August 5, 2001: The Cleveland Indians complete the largest comeback in baseball history, overcoming a 12-run deficit to defeat the Seattle Mariners 15-14 in 11 innings.
Officially, the 2001 Indians comeback was tied with the 1911 White Sox and the 1925 Athletics for the record. But what made this comeback the most impressive of the three was that the Indians defeated the Mariners, who finished the season with the best record in the majors, 116-46 (the sixth-best regular-season record all-time).
The Mariners scored four runs in the top of the second inning and padded their lead with eight more runs in the third. Although the Indians were able to get on the board with two runs of their own, the Mariners responded once again.
At the game's halfway mark, the Mariners lead 14-2.
With the game seemingly out of reach, both teams began to pull their starters. By the seventh inning stretch, the Indians were still down by 12 runs.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Indians bench player Russell Branyan lead off the inning with a solo shot, bringing the score to 14-3. They scored another two runs that inning, bringing the score to 14-5. Cue the comeback.
Indians star Jim Thome lead off the bottom of the eighth inning with another solo shot, bringing their run total to six. They scored three more runs in the inning, but it seemed that the game was still out of reach.
Now in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the Indians were down to their final out against one of the greatest regular season teams ever. Cleveland catcher Einar Diaz stepped to the plate, with two men on base. After getting into a 2-0 count, he ripped a ball into left field, driving in two more runs. 14-11.
Needing only three more runs to tie things up, 34-year-old veteran Omar Vizquel was at the plate with the bases loaded. On his eighth pitch of the at-bat, he crushed a ball into right field, and all three runners scored.
Incredibly enough, the game was now tied at 14-14. Vizquel was stranded at third, and the side was finally retired. The game went to extra innings.
Both sides were retired in the 10th, and the Indians had another chance to clinch the comeback in the 11th. With one out, Kenny Lofton singled to center. Vizquel followed up with another single, his fourth hit of the game.
With Lofton on third, little-known Jolbert Cabrera came up to bat and connected on his first pitch. Lofton scored, completing the greatest comeback in baseball history.
Here is a video of the final four runs scored by the Indians to complete the comeback:
The Indians finally won, 15-14.