Jason Giambi joined an ever-growing list of heroes in the Cleveland Indians' charge to the postseason Tuesday night, belting a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tribe a 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.
The 42-year-old Giambi hit the bomb off White Sox closer Addison Reed, who blew his eighth save of the season and second in the past three days. Reed allowed Michael Brantley to reach base on a single and subsequently steal second. Down to their final out, manager Terry Francona brought Giambi off the bench to hit for Matt Carson.
The five-time All-Star worked the count to 1-1 before Reed left a breaking ball on the lower inside corner of the plate, which Giambi belted over the right field fence at Progressive Field. It was Giambi's ninth home run of the season and his 10th walk-off blast of his career. The Indians now have 11 walk-off wins in 2013 alone.
Giambi's late-game heroics helped atone for yet another frustrating outing for Chris Perez. After Jason Kipnis previously put the Indians ahead 3-2 in the seventh inning with an RBI single, the embattled Indians closer blew his fifth save of the season as White Sox outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza hit solo home runs off of him in the ninth inning.
Perez, whose inconsistencies have become a cause for derision in Cleveland, now has a 3.71 ERA and 1.37 WHIP—far higher than his career averages. Bryan Shaw came in to clean up after Perez, recording the final out in the top of the ninth to eventually collect his sixth win of the season. Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez went 6.1 innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out seven.
Although he's hitting .181 and is long since removed from his MVP days, Giambi has provided a stable, veteran presence on this young Indians team all season.
Tuesday night was just another example, as he helped keep the Indians ahead in the AL wild-card race. With the Texas Rangers nipping at their heels for the second wild-card spot and playing the Houston Astros, Cleveland had no room for error. The Rangers defeated the Astros 3-2, to stay a game behind.
Cleveland, red-hot throughout the second half of the season, has won five straight games and has only lost five times in September. The Indians are back in action with one more against the White Sox on Wednesday before finishing their season with four against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
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