The Cleveland Indians are in this pennant race together. And so, despite feeling a rush of joy after hitting a monstrous, pinch-hit, game-ending, two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, slugger Jason Giambi made sure to find right-hander Chris Perez in the Tribe's clubhouse. Perez probably felt a little shaken, having blown a save opportunity a half-inning before, allowing a pair of home runs that had put Cleveland behind by a run. Heading to the bottom of the ninth, Perez was booed off the mound by fans at Progressive Field.
And the Indians, on the verge of being eliminated in the AL Central race and losing sole possession of a wild-card spot, were down to their last out against Chicago closer Addison Reed. Giambi took care of that, giving the Indians a stunning 5-4 victory, their 11th walkoff win by nine different players in 2013.
''I've said this before, but this is the ultimate team I've ever played on,'' Giambi said. ''It's unbelievable how many people have helped us win games this season.''
And then he took care of Perez:
''I made him give me a hug because he needed it,'' Giambi said of Perez, who hasn't spoken to the media in months. ''He can wipe this away and start fresh tomorrow.''
The Indians remained one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays and one game ahead of the Texas Rangers in the wild-card hunt. The Detroit Tigers are either a win or an Indians loss away from taking the division. These are intense times.
Giambi's drive, the 10th walkoff in his career, also gave the Indians 13 straight wins against the White Sox, who are trying to keep from losing 100 games this season.
''I've seen him do that before,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ''Having played with him, just knowing how he is on the team, you might not see it in numbers, but the personality of their team and how they play, how they go about their business, I know he's a pretty big piece of that, regardless of how much he's played.''
Giambi, who turns 43 in January, has said he wants to play another season. At first blush, his numbers aren't good — .181/.280/.374 with nine homers in 211 plate appearances coming in — but he's had his moments. He hit another walkoff homer in July to become the oldest player ever to do it. But even Hank Aaron, the previous record holder, retired at some point.
Giambi leaving might crush manager Terry Francona whenever the time comes.
''I think I have a man crush on 'G,''' Francona said. ''That was pretty awesome. Boy, did he hit that ball. Wow!''