Giambi's dramatic homer wins game of year
September, 24, 2013
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
Greatest win of my life!!! #believeland— Nick Swisher (@NickSwisher) September 25, 2013
One moment, you're crying and cursing out Chris Perez for blowing the game by giving up two home runs.
The next moment, you're crying and hugging the person in the seat next to you, or hugging and dancing with your brother or your wife or maybe just your dog: Jason Giambi, old man Giambi, just hit a dramatic, walk-off, two-run, emotionally draining home run to help get your Cleveland Indians one game closer to the playoffs.
Or maybe you're not an Indians fan. Maybe you're just a baseball fan, rooting for drama and surprise and fantastical things. Giambi's home run was all of those.
Considering the circumstances, it was the game of the year so far: the Indians going from a heartbreaking blown lead in the top of the ninth to Giambi swatting a two-out, pinch-hit home run to beat the White Sox 5-4 and stun -- in a deliciously good way -- a Cleveland fan base that has understandably grown accustomed to expecting the worst kind of misery, no matter the sport.
But it happened. Believe it, Cleveland. Terry Francona sent up .177-hitting, gray-haired, one-homer-since-July Jason Giambi to do one thing, and Giambi did it, belting a 1-1 slider from Addison Reed deep to right field.
Jason Miller/Getty ImagesJason Giambi's blast might be his last, but it's one to remember.
Maybe it's difficult to get sentimental over a player like Giambi, with his steroids-stained past, but call me sentimental: It was one final great moment from a player I've always enjoyed watching. It very well may be the last home run Giambi ever hits in the major leagues, and if so, what a way to go out. The Indians could still miss the playoffs, or they could make the wild-card game and lose it, or maybe Giambi doesn't even make the postseason roster (he'd had just 19 plate appearances in September before Tuesday).
Maybe Reed shouldn't have thrown that 1-1 slider; Giambi's bat speed obviously isn't what it was during his MVP days with the A's, and as they say, don't help speed up a slow bat by throwing a slider. On the other hand, Giambi had just three hits off sliders all season -- 3-for-28, a .107 average -- but two of those hits were home runs. Now he has four hits off sliders; three of them were home runs, and two of those were walk-offs, both of them against the White Sox.
Remember when Giambi interviewed for the Rockies' managing job in the offseason? He lost out to Walt Weiss and instead signed with the Indians, one last gasp of a baseball career for a guy who had hit .225 with one home run with the Rockies in 2012. He’s 42 years old, and it's hard to give up this sport.
There had been cries to cut Giambi loose throughout the season, considering his average hovered below the Mendoza Line much of the season and he'd been hitting .136 since the All-Star break. But Francona kept him around, probably for his clubhouse presence as much as his ability to provide power off the bench. A left-handed bat with home run power isn't the worst thing to have around as your 25th guy.
The Rangers beat the Astros 3-2, so Cleveland's lead over Texas remains a slim one game. The biggest loser on Tuesday was the Royals, who needed the Indians and Rangers to lose.
That's the joy and heartbreak of a playoff race; Jason Giambi delivered joy to the Indians and heartbreak to the Royals with one memorable swing.
Game of the year? I say so. But, hey, we still have five days left in the regular season.