Jason Giambi had Cleveland rocking on Tuesday night with a walk-off home run that produced another dramatic win and moved the Indians closer to an improbable postseason berth.
Having blown a lead in the top of the frame, Cleveland trailed the Chicago White Sox, 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth. With his team down to its final out, Indians manager Terry Francona called on the 42-year-old slugger to pinch-hit for Matt Carson.
"He's always ready," Francona said of the 2000 American League MVP after the game, via MLB.com. "And that's why he's playing this game, because he wants to win, and he's willing to do anything for anybody at anytime. Fortunately for us, sometimes it's when he steps in the batter's box."
White Sox reliever Addison Reed started Giambi off with an 81-mph slider. The 19-year veteran swung and missed. On the second pitch, a 92-mph fastball for a ball, Michael Brantley, who had reached on a one-out single, stole second. With the game-tying run in scoring position, Reed went back to the slider for this third pitch to Giambi. Ballgame. The grizzled masher deposited the offering beyond the right-field wall.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Giambi told reporters after his teammates mobbed him at home plate, via The Associated Press. "I'm speechless."
The win was Cleveland's fifth straight and gave the team a magic number of 5 to clinch a playoff spot, per MLB.com. It also allowed the Indians to maintain a one-game lead over the Texas Rangers for the second AL Wild Card spot.