For eight innings, the Indians and White Sox looked like two teams with no interest in being at the ballpark. One day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the White Sox had to suit up and play. The Indians, who eliminated themselves in late July when they started an 11-game losing streak, have been forced to play out the string through a brutal August and a lackluster September. In the ninth inning, however, things got very interesting as the teams exchanged two-run home runs. It took 12 innings, but the Indians came out on top 4-3.
Through the first three innings, neither pitcher had allowed a run and White Sox starter Jake Peavy had gone nine up, nine down. Shin-Soo Choo kept history from happening with a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. It was Choo's 16th homer and his first since August 18 in Oakland. That would be the only hit for the Indians until the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, Justin Masterson, who has had a very up and down season, including some strange home/road splits and several starts allowing seven or more runs, was putting up zeroes until the sixth. To that point, Masterson had allowed just two hits, both singles. In the sixth, Dewayne Wise doubled with one out and Orlando Hudson subsequently singled to drive him home. Masterson finished that inning without further damage and that was the end of his 2012 season. Masterson went six innings, allowing one run on four hits, with one walk and five strikeouts. He ends the season 11-15 with a 4.93 ERA.
It stayed a 1-1 game until the ninth. Jake Peavy had gone the distance for the White Sox and Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano followed Masterson with zeroes. Chris Perez entered in a non-save situation and that usually spells disaster. It did again on Tuesday night as Perez walked Dan Johnson and then gave up a go-ahead two-run homer to Dayan Viciedo. After a one out single from Jordan Danks, Perez hit Tyler Flowers with a pitch. The beaning, which appeared to be unintentional, drew a lot of ire from the White Sox dugout, with both benches being warned. Perez worked out of the inning without allowing any more runs.
Peavy came back out to attempt to finish his masterpiece. Michael Brantley hit a soft single to center field and Travis Hafner came out to pinch hit for Lou Marson. Hafner, who has missed a lot of time for the fifth consecutive season, may not be back with the Indians next season. In what might be his final at bat with the Tribe, Hafner got a hanging slider and hit it high and deep to right. It dinged off the outside of the foul pole for a game-tying two-run homer. As the theme from "The Natural" played over the sound system, Hafner rounded the bases on his 200th home run with the Indians.
The inning continued as Jason Kipnis sharply singled to right with two outs. Asdrubal Cabrera struck out and Carlos Santana worked a full count before beating out an infield single on a soft chopper to short. That left it up to Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall popped up foul to end the inning and send the game to extra innings.
Scott Barnes worked an impressive 10th inning. Jason Donald doubled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th but Vinny Rottino struck out to prolong the game. Esmil Rogers allowed a two out single, but worked a scoreless 11th. Matt Thornton worked a perfect 11th. Chris Seddon retired the Sox in order in the 12th.
Chisenhall doubled with one out in the 12th. Russ Canzler was intentionally walked. Matt LaPorta pinch hit for Casey Kotchman. Robin Ventura came out and made a pitching change, so Alomar countered with Jack Hannahan and he struck out. It was left up to Jason Donald. Donald roped a 1-1 pitch down the left field line for the walk-off winner.
With the win, the Indians move to 68-93. With the loss, the White Sox fall to 84-77. Chris Seddon gets the win in relief, moving to 1-1. Matt Thornton notched his 10th loss of the season.
Stat of the Night: With 200 home runs, Travis Hafner now joins Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Earl Averill, Hal Trosky, Larry Doby, and Andre Thornton in the 200 club.
Stat of the Night Part 2: According to our own Jonathan Knight, that was the Indians 1,000 win against the Chicago White Sox.
Player of the Game: Travis Hafner. He deserved that no moment. No matter what you think about Hafner, he has been a tremendous teammate and has always been cordial with the media. With every reason to be abrasive with all of the frustration and disappointment in his career over the last few seasons, he has always been a good ambassador for the organization.
Tomorrow's Game: The season (mercifully) ends tomorrow when Gavin Floyd and David Huff square off at 7:05.