COMMENTARY | The 2013 season marks the 20th season that the Cleveland Indians have called Progressive Field home.
Previously known as Jacobs Field, this park has seen much more prosperity for the Tribe than former home Cleveland Stadium. Seven division titles and two World Series appearances in this span electrified the fan base to such a level that the Indians were able to sell out 455 straight games between 1995 and 2001. Needless to say, with so much success over the last 20 years, the Indians have played many memorable games at Progressive Field.
Here are the five best:
5. May 7, 1995 -- Indians 10, Minnesota Twins 9 (17 innings): In what is still the longest game ever played at Progressive Field, the Indians faced off against the Twins in this early-season matchup in 1995. An early 6-2 lead for the Tribe didn't hold up, and the game entered extra innings deadlocked 9-9. Helped by nine scoreless innings tossed by the Cleveland bullpen, the Indians and Twins remained locked in a stalemate that reached the 17th inning. Finally, 6 hours and 36 minutes after the game began, Kenny Lofton's single (the 26th hit of the day for the Tribe) pushed across Manny Ramirez for the winning run, and this marathon win went to the Indians.
4. August 31, 1999 -- Indians 14, Anaheim Angels 12: All hope looked lost for the Tribe as they entered the bottom of the eight inning down 12-4 against Anaheim in this 1999 game. But the Indians pulled off one of their most remarkable comebacks in team history, scoring 10 runs in the frame, capped off by a three-run homer by Richie Sexson off Angels closer Troy Percival to complete the rally.
A rattled Percival then hit David Justice with the next pitch, igniting a bench-clearing brawl. The subsequent ejections led to some of the stranger scenes ever witnessed at Progressive Field, as pitcher Charles Nagy was forced to pinch-run and shortstop Omar Vizquel had to finish the game in right field for the depleted Indians.
3. April 4, 1994 -- Indians 4, Seattle Mariners 3 (11 innings): In the first game ever played at Progressive Field, the Indians rallied for a nail-biting win, which would become a trademark for the Tribe in their glory days of the late 1990s. Held scoreless for the first seven innings, the Indians struck for two runs in the eighth off Seattle ace Randy Johnson to tie the game 2-2. The Indians once again had to rally to tie it with a run in the bottom of the 10th, and, finally, after Wayne Kirby's game-winning single in the 11th inning, the Tribe had the win that would help propel them to a 66-47 record in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
2. October 5, 2007 -- Indians 2, New York Yankees 1 (11 innings): After a six-year drought, the Cleveland Indians returned to the playoffs in 2007, matched up in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. After winning Game 1, the Indians had no luck in Game 2 against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte and trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the eighth. This is when the midges earned their place in Cleveland sports lore. Thousands of the flying pests rattled reliever Joba Chamberlain into two walks, a hit batsman and two wild pitches, allowing the Indians to tie the game. Travis Hafner's single in the 11th plated Kenny Lofton, lifting the Tribe to victory and an eventual series win.
1. August 5, 2001 -- Indians 15, Mariners 14 (11 innings): Spotting leads of 12-0 and 14-2 to a club that would eventually go on to win 116 games in the 2001 season, the Indians pulled off an astonishing comeback that ranks as the best in Cleveland history.
After scoring three runs in the seventh inning, and four more in the eighth, the Tribe still found themselves down 14-9 heading into the bottom of the ninth. A two-out, three-run triple by Vizquel off Seattle closer Kaz Sasaki knotted the score at 14 heading into extra innings, and the now-deflated Mariners could only watch as Jolbert Cabrera's single won the game for the Tribe in the 11th as a nationwide audience on ESPN looked on in awe at what they had just witnessed.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor that has followed the Cleveland Indians for 25 years.
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