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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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Sizemore leads Tribe to division-clinching win

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians finally tasted something sweeter than all those postgame pies.

Expensive champagne – cases and cases of bubbly – soaked the home clubhouse at Jacobs Field for the first time since 2001 yesterday as the Indians, overlooked as a contender in baseball’s toughest division, clinched the AL Central with a 6-2 win over the Oakland Athletics.

The Indians, whose home opener was postponed by a freakish snowstorm and whose path to a title was unlike any in team history, will again play meaningful games in October.

“Somewhere among the snow and the craziness of the schedule and the injuries, this team became a family,” pitcher Paul Byrd said amid the delirium and flying liquid. “Everybody chipped in. I’ve never been on a team where everybody has been included in the victories as much as we have.”

And after every one of Cleveland’s home wins, the star player got smacked in the face during their TV interview with a whipped-cream pie, a tradition outfielder Trot Nixon started and one he continued during yesterday’s postgame mayhem by first nailing manager Eric Wedge and then general manager Mark Shapiro.

“This is what it’s all about,” Wedge said, clutching a bottle of champagne. “This is what we’ve waited for.”

Jake Westbrook struck out a career-high nine and Grady Sizemore had four hits as the Indians became the second team in the majors to clinch. The Boston Red Sox assured themselves of at least the AL wild-card spot Saturday night.

When reliever Rafael Betancourt struck out Oakland’s Mark Ellis for the final out and his second save, the sun-splashed crowd of 40,250 erupted as the right-hander jumped into catcher Victor Martinez’s arms.

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