In case you missed it, the no-longer-slumping Albert Pujols hit extra-innings walk-off homeruns on Saturday AND Sunday against the Cubs this past weekend, making him the first man to pull off such a feat since... my personal hero and yours, Albert Jojuan Belle-- in 1995, of course.
The most interesting thing about those Belle homers, though, is that they weren't even that remarkable by '95 standards. This was the summer of the more famous Manny bomb off Eck and Albert's own grand slam game-winner off Lee Smith. By comparison, Belle's pair of walkoffs in late August against Toronto seem a bit hazy 16 years later. But they are certainly worthy of a look back.
Wednesday, Aug 30, 1995: Indians enter with a ridiculous record of 78-35. Seven of the players in the starting lineup are hitting well over .300 (Lofton, Baerga, Belle, Murray, Thome, Ramirez, Herb Perry). Dennis Martinez duels Pat Hentgen for 7 innings. Bullpens keep it at 2-2 into the 14th inning. In the top of the 14th, Toronto finally plates a run off Paul Assenmacher with a sac fly by Mike Huff scoring Robbie Alomar. It's 3-2 Jays. But in the bottom of the 14th, Tony Castillo surrenders a leadoff double to Lofton. Vizquel bunts him to third. Baerga ties it up with a sac fly. And Albert drives a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers to win it. Seven wins straight overall for the Tribe. 41,000+ witness it.
Thursday, Aug 31, 1995: The Jays send out some dude named Edwin Hurtado up against the Indians recently acquired Ken Hill. Hill gives up 4 runs but goes 9 innings. Cleveland trails 4-3 heading into the bottom of the 9th. Facing Danny Cox, Manny Ramirez starts things off with a single to left, and Sandy Alomar follows with a double. Pinch runner Wayne Kirby is held at third base. After Herbert Perry strikes out, Carlos Baerga (who'd had a day off) pinch hits for Alvaro Espinoza and does the exact thing he'd done the previous night-- hit a game-tying sacrifice fly off of Tony Castillo. Lofton grounds out next, however, and the game goes to extras tied 4-4. Jose Mesa sends the Jays down in order in the 10th inning, and in the home half, following a Jim Thome walk, Albert steps in against Jimmy Rogers and puts on an encore performance, blasting another walkoff winner over the wall in left. 6-4 Tribe. It was Belle's 33rd of the year and 14th in August alone. Eight straight wins for the Indians. 41,000+ are there.
The very next day, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officially opens down the street. A pretty good week in Cleveland history.
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