Tonight was the first of my planned two games in Cleveland to catch the Twins take on the Tribe. My housemate, Patty, joined me for the three hour drive this afternoon and the subsequent game and current night’s stay at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Cleveland.* It was 80’s night at Jacob’s Field, and in honor of that event, all of the fans were given free Cleveland Indians Rubik’s Cubes. I solved mine quickly (okay, fine, they came solved… but I messed it up and retraced my steps quickly).
After Patty checked out the pro shop and picked up a jersey for her boyfriend, a German who roots for the Indians because he loved the movie Major League, we took our seats in the very back row of the bleachers. I met a guy from Cleveland earlier in the summer who heard of my baseball travels and told me that I had to get to Jacob’s Field, because “there’s not a bad seat in the house.” Well, I can now at least vouch that the half-off-in-September bleacher seats have a good view of the field, though they lose a few points for having no view of the Jumbotron.
The game started out looking bleak for the Twins, with the Indians scoring quickly in the first off of a pair of hits and a fielder’s choice. Carlos Silva looked a little uneasy on the mound and I was a little nervous about the Twins’ chances. Surprisingly, the fans weren’t all that excited, even when their team was ahead. I’d forgotten how much lower the energy in a stadium can be when the team isn’t contending for a playoff spot. I was impressed with the guy next to me, however, when he proceeded to name the line-up of both the ’87 and ’91 World Champion Twins, despite the fact that he was a lifelong Indians fan.
And speaking of the Twins, while they were down early, they certainly weren’t out. They got the initial run back in the third on a pair of singles of their own, followed by a pair of sacrifices from Little Nicky Punto and Mike “Joe Mauer who?” Redman to score Jason “The Piranha” Bartlett. Torii “Gold Glove” Hunter hit a homerun in the fourth to put the Twins ahead by one, and the boys from Minnesota grabbed an insurance run in the fifth off a Redman double. In the meantime, my worries about Silva’s pitching were quickly allayed as he pitched another six solid innings, giving up only three more hits and no runs, including a five pitch seventh that was over before you could blink.
Redman earned himself another RBI in the top of the ninth, proving that the Twins can depend on their catcher for offense even when Mauer isn’t in the game. (Have I mentioned that Redman has signed my scorebook? Well, he has and tonight I’m pretty proud of that.) Joe “Even better than Rivera” Nathan came in in the bottom of the ninth and the stadium began to slowly empty, even before he sent the Indians down 1-2-3 to earn his 33rd save of the season.
* – Priceline is pretty awesome for setting your own hotel rate, and I don’t mind giving them free advertising. This is the same line of hotel I stayed at in San Francisco back in April, with the sleep CD and ridiculously comfortable beds, not to mention excellent location (walking distance to Jacob’s Field). The price? $60 a night, split between us.