GREAT SAVES

Great Save #257

Greatest Ballplayer Ever engineers a rain soaked masterpiece for save #10

Even Bobby couldn’t hide his glee over this one, and couldn't help but laugh all the way to the clubhouse. This is what it’s all about-being healthy and having fun. And winning.

After a 26 minute rain delay and an almost empty Turner field, in the first game of a double header with a 2 run lead, why not improvise a little?

As Bob enters the ninth with a 3-1 lead over the Marlins, Joe Borchard helps him out with a fly out to left on the first pitch.

After Alfredo Amezaga singles and takes second on indifference, Dan Uggla gets an unwanted 4-minute gardening lesson after the count goes to 2-1. Bobby brings out the guys with the clay bricks, sand, rakes and tamper to beautify his landing area and mess with Uggla’s head a little. Three pitches later, he’s a strikeout victim on a 3-2 high fastball.

The Master works the count to 1-2 on Hanley Ramirez, but senses Amezaga behind him at second possibly stealing signs. Time for the patented “Wickman Intentional Balk?” Naw, been there; done that. Wick takes time and brings Saltalamacchia to the mound and calls his next three pitches with his glove over his goatee.

Low and outside-no swing. Low and outside again-Ramirez doesn’t bite.

The Maestro brings down the house with a magnificent sweeping curveball that appears to head for Ramirez’s noggin, then drops over the plate as the clueless batter backs away a bit and then freezes. Called strike three. Game over.

                              

 A thing of beauty that only a grizzled veteran with pinpoint accuracy could pull off.  A true work of art that die hard baseball fans cherish watching-the underrated genius in his element. And all the while, you can sense that Bob Wickman is having the time of his life. J.Ladd 6/5/07

    Great Save #239

  Bob’s ERA might not be perfect anymore, but his save total is

Bobby Wick entered the August 30th game at Turner Field as close to perfect as a pitcher could be. In 14 appearances since joining Atlanta, he had surrendered no earned runs and had converted 9 of 9 save opportunities. He still hasn’t played in a game that the Braves lost.

Entering the ninth with a 5-2 lead against the Giants, the Wickster began his no-nonsense, throw strikes approach with Eliezer Alfonzo, who promptly smashed the first offering into the center field seats. It was the first Wickman earned run with his new team.

Oh well, no biggie. Had to happen sooner or later. Time for Bobzilla to bear down and win this game.

The speedy Randy Winn made things interesting with a high chop off the plate that seemed to take forever to come down to catcher Brian McCann. This set up a bang-bang play at first in which McCann fired a BB to gun down Winn by a micro-step.

After Steve Finley lined out to center, Bob’s pesky old friend Omar Vizquel greeted him with 0-2 slap shot single to left. Shea Hillenbrand, representing the tying run at the plate, sent a patented “ Wickman induced slow-roller” to shortstop Edgar Renteria for the third out.

It was save 10 of 10 for our hero with Atlanta, his 14th consecutive save and his 25th of the season. Since there’s no such thing as perfection in baseball, we’ll have to settle for the next best thing: Bob Wickman. J.Ladd 8-31-06

Great Save #230

Great save #230 came on July 24th with Bob Wickman, much to the dismay of heartbroken Indians fans, in an Atlanta Braves Uniform.

  It ended almost like it began. Only this time, Adam LaRoche's two-homer performance would give Tim Hudson a lead that wouldn't have to be regained with one of those see-saw, stress-filled, extra-inning conclusions.

Of course, that can be attributed to the arrival of Bob Wickman, who wasn't present back on July 14, when the Braves began this successful road trip with a wacky 11-inning win over the Padres.

After Ken Ray and Tyler Yates nearly wasted Hudson's strong effort and LaRoche's powerful display at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, Wickman ended the madness with a perfect ninth that capped a 10-8 win over the Phillies. His first save with his new team allowed the Braves to head home with the satisfaction gained from winning seven of nine on this trip.

But there would be no more late-inning letdowns similar to the multiple ones Jorge Sosa displayed. Wickman was there to ensure the plane ride back to Atlanta would be a jubilant one.

As much as losing Bob hurts all his friends up here in Cleveland, there’s never been any doubt that he made the right decision. Bob is not the type to stay where he’s not wanted, and the Tribe brass made it clear that they wanted to turn him in for a refund. His last two months here would have been filled with one miserable loss after another, and he’s still too great a ballplayer to sit and watch his career end with a moping team of underachievers that lost heart in May. They’re not worthy of him.  My hope is that when they’re sitting at home in October, Bobby is pitching in the World Series. Maybe it will dawn on them then that their lousy play helped put him there.

He had nothing left to accomplish here. Bob was loyal to the end and gave everything he had to the city and the Indians, but when they made it clear they didn’t want him anymore, he pursued his chance to see “what might have been.” Now the people of Atlanta, and possibly the whole nation will get to see why Bob Wickman is the greatest ballplayer I’ve ever known.

That's my rant of the week. J. Ladd  7/25/06

 

Thanks to Bob, GS #229 not so sad after all

Back in April of last year, when Bob was nearing Doug Jones all time Indians save record, I asked Bob for a baseball. About the only thing I hadn’t gotten from him in his 6 years with the Tribe was a ball from one of his saves. I knew that he almost always threw them to one of the little kids behind the dugout after he closed out a game, and when I asked him what he’d do with the ball that tied his buddy Jonesy, he said, “Just toss it to a kid, I guess.” When I told him I knew a 44-year-old kid that would love to have it for his Wickman collection he agreed to save it for me. I figured it wasn’t that significant a ball to ask for as say, the next one that broke the record.

Well, true to form, Bob’s April 28th save against the Rangers at Jacobs Field that tied the record was once again a drama filled nail-biter until Ronnie Belliard snow-coned the final out. I saw Bobby tossing balls to the kiddies afterward and figured that he forgot. Oh, well - understandable under the circumstances.

The next day when we talked about the game, I mentioned that I guess he forgot the ball in all the excitement. “I got it,” he laughed. “I put in my glove for you. Don’t worry, you’ll get it!” I felt dumb for doubting him.

After that the season started going downhill for the Tribe at an alarming rate. They could hardly get the ball to Bob in May, and then he had an awful June with horrific blown games against Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincy. Then with the trade in July, I kind of forgot about the ball altogether.

My “Great Save #229” article of July shows the bitterness that I felt writing of my friend’s last save in an Indians uniform:

 

To top it off, it was in stinkin’ California. I couldn’t even be at his last game.

Anyway, so I get this little box in the mail the other day. People are always sending me Wickman stuff, and I wondered what this was.

The note inside said, “Joe, this was all I could come up with. Bob.” The ball from the April 28th game must have gotten lost in the shuffle somewhere along the line.

Talk about shock and awe when I unwrapped a baseball from Bob-The one from his last save and last game as an Indian! All decked out with the July 19th date, 255th and final appearance designation and game score in red, white and blue ink! It even had a big scuff mark on it where his last pitch hit the dirt-the one that Vladamir Guerrero swung at for strike 3 and was thrown out at first base!

I felt like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” unwrapping his official Red Rider BB gun on Christmas morning. ALL HE COULD COME UP WITH?! This should be in his trophy case- I would have never asked him for such a memento of his career. There are just too many milestones wrapped up in this baseball.

So with this, I guess I’ve turned the page on my anger and resentment over Bob’s trade. With the pictures coming out of the Braves camp this year, I can see the smile that was missing from his face at last year’s spring training is back where it belongs.

Through all the major upheavals that he went through in his life last year, Bob Wickman never forgot a small promise he made. One that will always be huge to me. The Greatest Ballplayer Ever strikes again. J. Ladd 2/26/07

 

Bobby Wick is Indians All-Time Saves Leader!

Maybe Bob should go 1-2-3 in the ninth for some real excitement. This putting guys on and then escaping by the skin of his teeth is getting boring.

Bob Wickman passed Doug Jones with 130 saves on May 7th at Safeco Field by slamming the door on C.C. Sabathia’s 2-0 masterpiece against the Mariners.

After tying the record 0n April 28th, our hero had to wait 10 days for his chance. The pattern this season so far: When the Tribe isn’t blowing out the opposition they’re on the receiving end of a spanking. Luckily, the Maestro has his veteran experiences to rely on to keep him sharp when that call does come.

After retiring cleanup hitter Ritchie Sexson on a routine grounder, the Master began conducting another of his patented tension-filled symphonies.

Carl Everett and Adrian Beltre both singled to put runners at first and second, bringing the winning run to the plate. Bob Wickman and catcher Kenji Johjima had never faced each other before, but Bobzilla always does his homework. Having studied him extensively, Bobby went right at him with 3 straight fastballs. Johjima sent the third one to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who started a slick game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

“It was typical Wicky fashion,” said Sabathia. “I don’t even get nervous anymore. I knew he’d get that ground ball. I’m just glad I could be part of it.”

The Wickster is 6-for-6 in save situations this year and has converted 22 straight saves since last year. Bob, of course, was gracious and humble amid all the accolades.

“I remember my first game as a new closer,” said Wick. “Doug Jones came up to me and said, ‘If you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here for you.’ I took the job from him and he had no hard feelings.”

Bobby is going to give the record-setting ball to Chris Kelley, a former Indians bat boy seriously injured in a car accident in 2004.

“When Chris wakes up, he’s going to see that ball.”

Bobby Wick ties Doug Jones as the Club’s all-time saves leader with 129

Bob Wickman’s 221st save came with no surprises-it was the usual gut wrenching, no room for errors nail-biter that has become his trademark since his return from Tommy John surgery in 2004.

After the Tribe added an insurance run against Texas in the top of the ninth at the Jake, Bobby entered the 7-5 game to face the heart of the Rangers order.

Michael Young greeted our hero with a double down the right-field line, and was brought home with a Mark Teixeira drive off the left-field wall to cut the lead to 7-6 with no outs.

After a Phil Nevin ground ball advanced Teixeira to third, Bobzilla emerged for his first appearance in Cleveland this year.

With the heat turned up a few notches, the Wickster began to get nasty. He retired the dangerous Hank Blalock on a fly ball to Casey Blake in short right, who proceeded to fire a perfect strike to Victor Martinez at home, holding the tying run at third with two outs.

Enter Kevin Mench, who became the first right-handed batter in major-league history to homer in seven consecutive games when he went deep against Guillermo Mota in the eighth inning. A dramatic 9-pitch battle ensued, with Bobby ending the threat and the game by inducing a harmless pop out to Ronnie Belliard at second.

A fired-up Bobby Wick pumped his fists, shouted and walked around hugging everyone in sight.

“I wasn’t pumped because I tied the record, I was more excited about getting out of a jam. It’s fine with me if I don’t get any saves as long as we win,” said the Wickster. “I made quality pitches. If something had happened, I’d have gone home knowing I got beat with good pitches.”

Next up: Bob Wickman becomes the Cleveland Indians all-time saves leader. Don’t miss one pitch of baseball’s ultimate adrenaline rush! Same Wick- time, same Wick-channel…

GAME OF THE DAY / INDIANS 2, TWINS 1

Wickman starts, ends

Key stretch begins with clutch save

ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Cleveland -- Almost three hours after Bob Wickman squatted to catch the ceremonial first pitch, he threw the last one to silence Minnesota.

   Wickman stranded the tying run at third base in the ninth inning and sent the Cleveland Indians to a 2-1 win over the Twins in a peaceful series opener between the bitter AL Central rivals on Monday night.

   The Indians, starting a 13-game stretch in which they'll face either Minnesota or first-place Chicago 10 times, have won three straight and are inching closer to .500.

   "This was another big win," Wickman said.  "We're all chasing the White Sox.  But we need to get to .500 first."

   Before the teams renewed their heated rivalry, Wickman went out to catch the first pitch thrown out by Joe Ladd, the president of "Wickman's Warriors," the closer's official fan club.

   "I'm glad he threw a perfect one," Wickman said.  "I was nervous.  I'm not too mobile, and I was worried because I had all those people behind me getting ready to sing the national anthem."

   For one of the few times in the past few seasons, the Twins and Indians stuck to baseball without any brushbacks, beanings, or barking.

   There was barely a tight pitch or menacing glare between the clubs, who have been at odds the past few years.  Before the series started, Major League Baseball warned the teams to behave, sending a letter to both managers to keep their players in line.

   "I think it's kind of overblown," said Indians starter Scott Elarton, proudly wearing his blue "Wickman's Warriors" T-shirt complete with its "In Bob We Trust" insignia.  "It's a mutual respect more than anything."

   In the eighth, Victor Martinez, in a 1-for-24 slump, broke a 1-all tie by hitting a sacrifice fly to center that score Jhonny Peralta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our gutsy closer added some acrobatics to his latest ninth-inning production against the Oakland A’s on September 13th. With the Tribe up 5-2, a man on first (always) and no outs, Oakland’s Dan Johnson sent a bouncer in the hole that was snagged by first baseman Ben Broussard.

Our hero Wick, who never fails to hustle to first, collided with Johnson at the bag taking the return throw from shortstop Jhonny Peralta, sending both men sprawling to the turf.  After the ball hit Bob in the thigh and bounced into foul territory, he sprang immediately to his feet and retrieved it. Never taking his eyes off of the umpire, who made no call either way, Bobby did what no one else in Jacobs Field was thinking about. He calmly walked over to first and stepped on the bag to complete the double play, igniting a roar from the stunned crowd. Johnson had missed the bag.

“It was quite amazing,” said Kevin Millwood, the games’ winning pitcher. “How many people would’ve thought to touch the bag after a collision like that?”

Not I, that’s for sure. Being in shock after seeing our beloved closer fall on his pitching arm while wiping out at first base, I was grateful just to see him get up. A minute later, with his arm bleeding from just above his right elbow, Bob got the third out with a harmless fly ball to right for his league-leading 40th save.

Never hesitating during the heads-up play, Bob’s veteran intelligence came through again to seal yet another win against a contending team in this year’s thrilling wild-card race; a race we wouldn’t be enjoying if it wasn’t for Bob Wickman. J. Ladd 9/13/05

“Bob Wickman is killing me”

A last will and testament by: Joseph Ladd

I really thought that it would be a west coast trip that would finally do me in. The games start at 10PM here in Cleveland when the Tribe is on the left coast, and even if I catch a nap before the game or during the early innings, it’s usually about 1AM before Bob comes in to do his thing. Being the early guy at work, the lack of sleep combined with Bobby’s gut-wrenching performances pretty much turns me into one of those zombies from “Dawn of the Dead” the next day.

But it was Bob’s August 23rd stress-fest in Tampa Bay that took at least a year off of my life. It was a true masterpiece; a miracle filled ninth where everything that can possibly go wrong did and we still won the game. From most of the Warriors checking in the next day, the line of the evening seemed to go something like “Oh God, I don’t think I can stand to watch this again…”

With a 5-4 Indians lead, leadoff batter Toby Hall sent a Wickman fastball screaming about 1 foot foul of the left field foul pole before being retired on a fantastic diving catch by Coco Crisp a pitch later. Bob seemed to be on his way to a 1-2-3 inning after inducing a groundout to short by Alex Gonzalez for the second out, but then Julio Lugo began the tightrope walk with a single to left. Carl Crawford found the hole between 1st and 2nd , sending Lugo to third.  Then he stole second on Bobby’s first pitch to Jorge Cantu. In an attempt to quick-pitch Cantu, Bob made an apparent balk that wasn’t called by any of the 4 umpires, sending Rays manager Lou Pinella into one of his patented, hysterical on- field meltdowns. The balk would have scored Lugo from third with the tying run if called.

Like a fine orchestra conductor, the maestro Wickman brought down the house on the next pitch by knocking down Cantu’s hard liner to the mound and tossing it to first to end the exhilarating production. My breathing and heart rate returned to normal about 20 minutes later, and I just had to laugh at the replays of Bob giving high-fives going through the victory line.

 If the Indians do make the playoffs this year, I may have to watch the games in the nearest hospital emergency room just to be on the safe side. Like I’ve said here many times before, anyone that thinks baseball is a boring game isn’t a Bob Wickman fan.

 

  

Wickman Records 200th Save

Another milestone is met as Bobby’s banner year rolls on

Bobby Wick’s best-case scenario at the beginning of the season (according to the experts) was to will his reconstructed elbow through 30 or so saves with minimal time on the DL, then to pick up his last check, retire and ride off into the sunset.

But that isn’t Bob Wickman’s way. He didn’t put in all that grueling rehab work to meekly hang on and limp away in October. “I intend to let ‘er rip.” Bob said of his elbow in spring training. “If she goes, she goes. Then I’ll walk away knowing I did all that I could do.”

Leading up to his 200th career save on August 7th, he had appeared in 11 of the Indians’ past 15 games, turning 8 of those appearances into saves. Wick is now second in saves in team history at 110; 31-for-36 on the year as it stands today.

#200 came, unfortunately, on the road at Comerica against the Tigers. After the Indians blundered their way to a 5-0 deficit with 4 errors in the second inning, the Tribe began their comeback with dingers by Casey Blake and Grady Sizemore in the fifth to make it 6-3, then pulled ahead on Ronnie Belliard’s 3 run shot in the eighth.

The Wickster came on in the bottom of the ninth to face the Tigers’ 3,4, and 5 hitters with a 6-5 lead. Using his slider to perfection, our hero struck out Chris Shelton and Rondell White looking, with a weak groundout of Magglio Ordonez sandwiched in between. After throwing 16 pitches, Bob accepted his trophy ball from catcher Josh Bard and playfully tossed it as he walked to the victory line. He received a champagne toast from his teammates after the game.

His American League leading 31st save sealed a three game sweep of Detroit, leaving the Tribe 4 - 1/2 games out in the wild-card race with 50 left to play.

Instead of being in position to be lambasted by his critics as “another has-been who held on too long,” the Indians All-Star closer is leading his team into the thick of the wild-card race with his guns blazing. But that doesn’t surprise Wick’s Warriors at all. We all know that our guy has made a career out of shutting up his detractors and proving them wrong. J. Ladd – 8/8/05

Great Save #195

July 28th proves again to be a magical day for Bob Wickman*

After a heartbreaking blown save against Oakland on July 27th, Bobby Wick redeemed himself by nailing down his 26th save of the year the next night against the Mariners in Seattle.

Understandably upset after allowing the A’s to tie the score in the ninth and eventually win the game 5-4 in extra innings off of David Riske, Bob was took it pretty hard and blamed himself.

“It’s hard to win a tie game on the road. I put David in a tough situation in a game we should have had won. It’s a two game swing in the wildcard race--I didn’t do my job and I let the team down.”

Of course he didn’t mention that without his 26 / 30 converted saves this year, the Tribe would already be finished for the season. Bob converted his last 11 in a row before the A’s found the holes that day. It was only by his unflappable will that he escaped the inning with the score tied at four. A wheel play, a bases loaded play at the plate and a strikeout got him off the hook and allowed the Tribe to fight on.

The next evening our hero charged right back into the fire to close out a 6-5 lead against the Mariners. After a one out error put Bob in a jam again, he faced the dreaded Ichiro Suzuki at the plate representing the winning run. The Wickster induced the fastest man in the league to hit into only his second double play of the year to end the game.

That save was Bob’s 105th as an Indian, leading him past Jose Mesa’s 104 and sending him on his way toward Doug Jones’ franchise leading 129 saves. It was his third appearance in 3 days, converting 2 out of 3. The next milestone to fall will be his 200th career save. The Warrior faithful can only hope it will be at Jacobs Field so we can all join in the celebration with our favorite ballplayer.

*Great Save #195 came on July 28th, which seems to be a magical date in Bob Wickman’s life: It was his 5 year anniversary as an Indian, as well as the date of his first save (in 2004) after coming back from Tommy John surgery. It’s also the birthday of Bobby’s youngest son Ethan, who just turned 2. How fitting that the Indians turned –two to seal this great save on a special day. J. Ladd  - 7/28/2005

Great Save #185

Bobby Wick’s 7-6 save against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park on June 11th was a milestone in his Indians career. It was his 95th save in a Tribe uniform, moving him past Mike Jackson into 3rd place behind Jose Mesa and Doug Jones. And, in true Wickster fashion, it was a nerve-wracking, mind-bending experience. But what fun is there in doing things the easy way?

Really, how do you enter a game with runners on 2nd and 3rd, allow 3 stolen bases, and still get the save?  Here's how:

With a 7-4 lead in the ninth, the game looked well in hand when Bob Howry came in to finish off the Giants. A few base hits later, Wick came in to relieve Howry with runners on second and third with no outs. Bobby retired the first two batters, but each out produced a run.

Our hero walked Michael Tucker, who stole second. Then he walked his old friend Omar Vizquel to put runners on first and second.

“I don’t know if my grandmother was still awake, but Omar was her favorite Indian,” Bob said. “Omar was not going to beat me there. He wanted to be a hero, and I wanted to be a hero.”

After a double steal by Tucker and Vizquel, Bobzilla ended it by striking out J.T. Snow.

The steals tied knots in manager Eric Wedge’s stomach, but didn’t bother Killer at all.

“They’re going to score on a gapper, no matter what.”

Said Wedge after the game, “Wicky has nerves of steel.”

Yep, that’s why he’s #1 warrior. Never a dull moment.

The Wickman Intentional Balk

“What in the cockeyed hell was that?”

That was my reaction when I saw Bobby Wick balk Mike Cuddyer of the Twins from 2nd base to 3rd in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 4-2 game that he was trying to save on May 3rd.

“Wick doesn’t balk!” And it looked so goofy.

Turns out that Bob was having a flashback to a blown save on April 21st against the Angels in which Garret Anderson, with Darin Erstad on 2nd base,  reached out and blooped a low and outside pitch into center field to tie the game. Anderson seemed to know where the pitch was going, and the Tribe eventually lost the game 6-5 in 10 innings. He wasn’t going to let it happen again.

I did it on purpose,” explained the Wickster. “I didn’t want him calling pitches at second base. The run means nothing. If he goes to third he can’t call pitches, can he?”

Turns out that Bob ended up walking Shannon Stewart (at the plate) anyway, but then struck out Matt LeCroy to earn save #6 on the season and career save #175.

“It was my only balk my whole career,” Bob said after the game with a smile on his face.

It was another fine display of the depth of the veteran’s baseball knowledge, and his showmanship came at a great time. The Indians badly needed this win against their division rivals. 

Anyone who thinks baseball is boring sure ain’t a Bob Wickman fan. 

J. Ladd – 5-5-05

CASE CLOSED!

After 2 Years, Bob Wickman Records Great Save #157 On His 4th Anniversary As An Indian

7-28-2004

It took 2 years for me to write this article. I was waiting for Bob Wickman to give me the script. As usual, he didn’t disappoint me.

Bob finally came full circle in Wednesday nights’ 5-4 win over the Tigers at Jacobs Field. The Indians have been slowly easing Bob back into his closer role since his return from the disabled list on July 6th. He has performed brilliantly in his 8 appearances since.

After 5 appearances as a setup man, Bob was officially given the closer role on July 20th. His last hurdle was going back-to-back, which he cleared by striking out the side on 16 pitches in Tuesday’s 10-6 win. He needed only 8 pitches to induce 3 ground ball outs last night to save the game for Scott Elarton.

“That’s big,” said Wick. “It’s the one stepping stone everyone was looking at. There was enough adrenaline to keep me going in back-to-backs.”

Casey Blake’s two run home run in the seventh erased a 4-3 Tribe deficit and helped give Elarton his first win with the Indians and his first win in 18 starts.

Wick offered the game ball to Elarton, but Scott declined. “I got my game ball in 2002 after my shoulder surgery. I know he feels better than I do.”

It was a night for both Elarton and Wick to exorcise their demons.

The Indians (52-50) went 6-3 on the homestand and can now hit the road for the longest road trip of the year with confidence in their bullpen riding high. Without making a single trade, the Indians have solidified the biggest trouble spot on the team this season. They did it by patiently investing in the hard work and dedication of a great ballplayer. Bob Wickman is back.   J. Ladd 7-28-04

Great Save #150

 That’s what I get for not trusting in Bob.

 After Bob Wickman left a disastrous game in the Metrodome on June 5th with a numb elbow, I spent the next few days turning into a Wickman’s Worrier. OK, what did he tear? Nerve damage? When’s he going on the DL for the first time in his career?

 I spoke with Bobby before the game on Tuesday, June 11th and asked him point blank how bad it was. He assured me like he always does that it wasn’t that bad, that he’d just have to pitch with the injury and be careful he doesn’t overuse the arm or try to pitch when the elbow says he can’t.

 I was skeptical. “This is not a good thing, Bob. That’s the second time in 2 weeks I watched you leave the mound in pain.  You wouldn’t try to kid a kidder now, would you?”

 Entering the game later that night in relief of Bartolo Colon, Wick faced Jeremy Giambi, Scott Rolen and Travis Lee with runners on second and third, no outs and a 5-1 lead. Pass the Rolaids, this should be fun.

 With me wincing at every pitch he threw, Number One Warrior proceeded to pitch his most dominating save appearance of the season, using 14 pitches to strike out the side in succession and preserving another brilliant win for Colon. It was like watching Picasso paint a portrait of a save:

   

Jeremy Giambi

1)    92 MPH fastball- S1
2)   
92 MPH fastball fouled S2  
3)   
92 MPH fastball away B1  
4)   
88 Mph breaking ball swing and miss- 1 out

 

  Scott Rolen  

1)    92 MPH fastball inside B1
2)   
93 MPH fastball inside swing and miss S1
3)   
91 MPH fastball inside B2  
4)    Offspeed fouled S2  
5)   
92 MPH fastball low B3  
6)   
87 MPH slider swing and miss S3- 2 outs

 

  Travis Lee  

1)   
94 MPH fastball fouled S1  
2)   
88 MPH slider S2  
3)   
86 MPH slider B1  
4)   
91 MPH fastball called strike three- ballgame. Save #14 on the year.

(Looked a little low, but I’m through questioning genius)

 

Maybe I should start listening to my own slogan: “In Bob We Trust”. JL

 

The Hornet's Nest


 The wildest save of 2001 came against Seattle on August 26.

    The day after the infamous Vizquel-Rhodes earring game at Safeco Field, Rhodes held a 3-2 lead in the ninth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Kenny Lofton drove a 1-2 pitch over second to score Ellis Burks and Wil Cordero for a 4-3 lead.

    In comes Wick in the bottom of the ninth and gives up a single to Mike Cameron, but then he strikes out David Bell. Bobby broke Carlos Guillen’s bat on the next pitch, but Vizquel had no play on the slow roller. Pinch-hitter Stan Javier then skied a ball off home plate that Bob could only wait for and catch to load the bases.

    In comes the American League MVP and Rookie of the Ye
ar candidate Ichiro Suzuki, who promptly bounced a 2-2 pitch back to the mound. Wickman snagged it and smartly threw home for the force. Mark McLemore ended the game by hitting into a force play at second. Wick fought his way out of the hornet’s nest the same way he got into it--by having the batters beat the ball into the ground.

    Bob’s post game comments: "This game was huge. We started with a 4 ˝ -game lead and ended it with a 4 ˝ -game lead. We went 4 –3, but in my career I think it’s the best trip I’ve ever been on because of the good pitching we faced."

    But that was just the highlight in a road trip full of highlights for Our Boy. What’s truly amazing to me are August 21, 22, 23 games against Oakland earlier in the week in which Bob saved 2 games and won 1 in the span of less than 40 hours!

    This road trip in my opinion was the most important juncture of the Tribe’s season. Having gone 4 –3 against the two hottest teams in the league gave them the confidence to finish strong and take the division crown. I use Bob Wickman’s work on that trip often in my argument that he was the Indian’s MVP in 2001.

Bobby Whiffs Murderers Row

The May 25th, 2001 game certainly qualifies as a sensational save,  particularly because it was against the Yankees, and I was there.

The game featured Jaret Wright going in his second start after shoulder surgery against Orlando Hernandez on a cool Friday night.   It featured sparkling defensive plays by Omar Vizquel on a Chuck Knoblauch ground ball and an Einar Diaz-to-Vizquel pickoff of David Justice early in the game.

The Tribe’s scoring began immediately when leadoff hitter Jacob Cruz rapped a 2-1 pitch from Hernandez over the center field wall.  A run scoring double by Diaz and Juan Gonzalez’s 13th home run pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third. A run-scoring single by Vizquel in the 4th and a towering 2-run blast by Jim Thome in the fifth rounded out the Indians scoring.

Wright was not sharp, giving up three runs on six hits in 4-2/3 innings.  In comes the bullpen with relievers Rich Rodriguez, Steve Reed and Paul Shuey holding theYankees to one run on three hits over 3-1/3 innings and setting up closer Bob Wickman with a 6-4 lead in the ninth.

With everyone including me going nuts, in comes The Man who promptly proceeds to pick up save # 9 by fanning the heart of New York’s lineup-Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Justice – to end the game.  Bobby’s sinker was especially wicked that night with the ball dropping over the plate like it had a nail in it.  D. J. looked quite foolish as he flailed away trying to catch a piece of it.

Ah, well, nothing like beating the stinking Yankees on a Friday night in Cleveland. J.L. 5/26/01

On September 20, 2000, Bob Wickman saved both ends of a day-night doubleheader for the first time in his career. To Fenway Park:

Game 1: Indians fans will long remember the first time the Tribe beat Pedro Martinez. In what I always refer to as the "Woodard Game", Steve Woodard pitched six scoreless innings and protected Robbie Alomar’s RBI single before handing Paul Shuey a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Shuey carried it through the seventh and eighth before turning the game over to Wick, who hadn’t pitched in a week and was feeling a bit rusty. Kenny Lofton’s homer around the foul pole in short right field off of Derek Lowe in the top of the ninth gave Bobby a 2-0 cushion.  

Wickman walked Jose Offerman to start the ninth, but Jason Varitek hit into a force play at second. Nomar Garciaparra then doubled off the Green Monster, missing a game tying home run by a few feet. Troy O’Leary’s infield single made it 2-1 before Dante Bichete hit a bouncer that Wick snagged to the left of the mound and caught Garciaparra in a rundown between third and home.

Bob then struck out Brian Daubauch to record his eleventh save as an Indian and restart my heartbeat.  Indians 2, Red Sox 1.

Game 2: Omar Vizquel’s straight steal of home with the bases loaded in the fifth inning highlighted this little gem in the nightcap. Omar didn’t even draw a look from Rheal Cormier as he scored standing to tie the game at 3 all.
  
The Sox were trailing 5-4 when they loaded the bases with one out off of Paul Shuey in the eighth. Enter Wickman to end the threat by getting Lou Merloni to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Killer then worked a scoreless ninth for his 12th save. Indians 5, Red Sox 4.

Any hopes the Red Sox had for the wild-card died that day.  J L

Why walk a Red Sock when you can plunk him instead?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2001 found Bob Wickman well into his nervous breakdown phase of saving games; another thriller I was fortunate enough to attend. Jacobs Field vs. the Boston Red Sox:

    C.C. Sabathia struck out 11 in seven fine innings of work, turning over a 2-1 lead to Danys Baez in the eighth. The long ball provided all the scoring in this one, featuring back to back drives by Juan Gonzalez (31st) and Ellis Burks (23rd) in the sixth.  The Tribe looked clueless against the legendary Casey (don’t call me possum) Fossum until the consecutive bombs flew with 2 outs in the sixth. Manny Ramirez, whose leadoff homer in the fourth provided the Sox with their only run, struck out swinging against Baez to end the eighth.   Enter the Wickmiester with 40,000 fans still buzzing from the Ramirez whiff an inning earlier. Pass the Rolaids. 

   Bob started the ninth by giving up a bloop double to Dante Bichette on a ball that got past the diving Marty Cordova in right. Shea Hillenbrand moved Bichette to third on a grounder to second. As the left handed hitting Troy O’Leary stepped to the plate, my brother Frank and I looked at each other, shrugged and said, "hit him".  Wick’s next pitch nailed the pinch-hitter in the side to put runners on first and third with one out. A strike out of Jose Offerman proved to be huge as Bobby walked pinch- hitter Scott Hatteberg to load the bases for Trot Nixon.  Nixon then bounced a 1-2 fastball down and away to shortstop Omar Vizquel who threw to Robbie Alomar for the game-ending force. Sabathia gets win #14, Wickman save # 25.

Killer’s post game comments: "What C.C. did tonight, you don’t want it to go to waste. When an inning starts going like that, I get more focused."  Yeah, right. Let’s focus in on a 1-2-3 ninth next time, shall we Bob? Indians 2, Red Sox 1.

P.S. That win was the second of a three game sweep of Boston, which effectually eliminated them from any wild-card hopes for the second straight year. What a shame...J. Ladd 8/30/01