CLEVELAND -- There have been many big offensive games by members of the Tribe over the past century, but which ones stand out as the best of the best? Let’s take a look at the top five single-game hitting performances in Indians history:
1) Lonnie Chisenhall: June 9, 2014 at Texas
Welcome to the battle of Rocky Colavito and Lonnie Chisenhall.
There was no doubt that Chisenhall and Colavito would take the top two spots of this list, but determining who would be No. 1 was a challenge. Putting Chisenhall on top does not take away from Colavito's four-homer game (we'll get to this shortly), but Chisenhall’s five-hit, three-homer, nine-RBI performance gives him the slightest of all edges in this race.
Chisenhall’s nine RBIs matched a club record set by Chris James in 1991, and he became the first big leaguer in at least 100 years to collect at least three homers, five hits and nine RBIs without recording an out. He was just the fourth hitter to have at least that many home runs, hits and RBIs in a single game. Both Scooter Gennett and Anthony Rendon have since joined that list.
Chisenhall was also just the 32nd Indians batter to launch at least three long balls in a single game, and it marked the 15th time in at least the previous 100 years that a Major League player had at least three homers and nine RBIs in a single game.
2) Rocky Colavito: June 10, 1959 at Baltimore
Colavito penciled his name on a very short list of players who have hit four home runs in a single game. It had gone down as the best game by a Cleveland batter without a doubt, as he finished with five runs scored and six RBIs … that is, until Chisenhall gave him some competition almost 55 years later to the day. There really is no right answer as to who gets the title of the best individual game by an Indians hitter between the two, because they were both such dominant performances.
At the time, Colavito became just the sixth person in Major League history to accomplish the feat in the Tribe’s 11-8 victory over the Orioles. After a walk in his first plate appearance, Colavito went on to launch two solo blasts and a pair of two-run jacks. Since then, that prestigious list has grown to 16 players, with the most recent four-homer game coming on Sept. 4, 2017, by J.D. Martinez.
Hendrick got the Indians on the board in the first with a solo homer before he cut the Tribe’s deficit to one in the fourth with another solo blast. His third dinger of the game helped Cleveland come back from a five-run deficit to allow him to become the hero in the bottom of the ninth with a game-winning single to left field.
4) Luke Easter: Sept. 29, 1951 vs. Tigers
There have been 30 other Indians players to hit three homers in a game that haven’t yet been mentioned on this list. While Easter’s big game at the plate only included two long balls, he still earns the fourth spot on the list over the rest of the three-homer players with his clutch sixth-inning grand slam.
After already logging a triple in the second inning, Easter delivered the go-ahead slam in the sixth to put the Indians ahead of the Tigers, 5-4. After Detroit took the lead in the top of the eighth, Easter came back in the bottom half of the frame to launch yet another game-tying homer. After 13 innings, Cleveland was able to walk away with a 7-6 victory.
5) Chris James: May 4, 1991 at Oakland
This list wouldn’t be complete without the only other player (joining Chisenhall) to knock in nine runs in a single game in Tribe history. Cleveland’s 20-6 win over Oakland began with a three-run homer from James in the first before he smacked another three-run dinger in the second. He picked up an RBI double and a two-run single before he was replaced by Jeff Manto (who worked a walk in his plate appearance in the ninth) in the bottom of the eighth.
Casey Blake: July 5, 2003 at Minnesota
Blake become one of just 28 players in Indians history to plate at least seven runs in a single game in the Tribe’s 13-2 win over the Twins. Blake went 5-for-5 with two doubles, two homers, three runs scored and seven RBIs.
Victor Martinez: July 16, 2004 at Seattle
Martinez joined Blake on the list of players to knock in at least seven RBIs in a single game against the Mariners. In an 18-6 Tribe victory, Martinez went 5-for-5 with three runs scored and three home runs.
Joe Carter: Aug. 29, 1986 at Boston
In a 7-3 win over the Red Sox, Carter went 5-for-5 with three homers, four RBIs and three runs scored.