About two weeks ago, Jack Hannahan's Cleveland Indians teammates chipped in thousands of dollars to get him on a private jet from Boston to Cleveland to be with his pregnant wife, who was about to give birth prematurely. He made it back just in time to witness the birth of his son.
Wednesday night in Cleveland, Hannahan gave that gift back to his teammates in the form of a career performance.
He hit a home run to the deepest part of Progressive Field in the second inning off the Athletics' Rich Harden to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead. After Oakland had scored single runs in the third and fourth innings to retake the lead, Hannahan came up again to face Harden in the sixth; he hit another home run, this one dinging off the right field foul pole (and its ad reading "WALGREENS") to tie the game 3-3. For Hannahan, who has just 24 career home runs in 1316 major league plate appearances, it was his third multihomer game.
And then... nothing. The score remained tied for nine innings and 12 relief pitchers. A's relievers gave up just two hits between the seventh and 15th innings; Tribe bullpen hurlers just six.
In the bottom of the 16th, at about five minutes past midnight in Cleveland, Jim Thome hit a one-out single and was replaced by pinch runner Cord Phelps, who advanced to second on another single by Carlos Santana.
That brought up Hannahan. He took two fastballs from Josh Outman, one for a strike, one for a ball, and then bounced another fastball through the right side of the infield for a single. Right fielder David DeJesus' throw was just a fraction too late to get Phelps, and the Indians had a 4-3 victory.
The Indians have been desperately trying to stay in the AL Central race; the win moved them ahead of the White Sox into second place, 5.5 games behind the Tigers. They've still got six games left with Detroit, including the final three games of the regular season, so they still have a chance.
And for Hannahan, perhaps the definition of "journeyman player" -- he's a .231/.318/.358 lifetime hitter over five major league seasons with the Tigers, Athletics, Mariners and Indians -- Wednesday night will be a day he'll never forget. It's always nice to see guys like this get some credit and recognition for all the time and hard work they've put into baseball, and have their moment in the sun, even if it was midnight and not sunny when it happened.