Indians recount excitement of division clinch

Indians recount excitement of division clinch

DETROIT -- Adrenaline was taking over for Roberto Perez. With two strikes on Detroit's Cameron Maybin in the ninth inning on Monday night, the Indians catcher signaled for a fastball from closer Cody Allen, and waited anxiously for the pitch.

"My heart started throbbing," Perez said Tuesday. "It was an awesome feeling, man. I couldn't describe the feeling."

Allen then unleashed a 95-mph fastball that put this season into the team's history books. Maybin swung through the pitch, bringing an end to a 7-4 win for Cleveland and sealing the club's first American League Central championship since 2007.

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Perez squeezed the ball with his glove, and then stood and pumped his fist. On the mound, Allen raised both arms in the air, as a gathering of Indians fans reacted raucously from behind the first-base dugout at Comerica Park. Perez walked to Allen and hugged the team's closer, whose mind was racing in that surreal moment.

What was going through Allen's mind?

"I couldn't even tell you," said the pitcher. "It was almost like when I asked my wife to marry me. I couldn't tell you what I said, what happened. I was so nervous, so excited, all at the same time. It just happened."

How They Got There: Indians

Behind Allen, the infielders all ran at one another. First baseman Mike Napoli, second baseman Jason Kipnis, shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez formed a bouncing circle that set off a celebration that lasted late into the night for the Tribe.

"I looked for Nap. And I looked for Ramirez," Lindor said. "I was like, 'We've got to hug it out, boys. We've got to hug it out. We did it, boys! We did it!'"

Before joining the growing mob, Perez handed the last-out baseball to Allen. The pitcher later gave it to an Indians staffer, who secured the ball for safe keeping. The Indians also gathered a pile of champagne bottle corks and a pair of party-used goggles for the team's archives. The lineup card for the win over Detroit will also be added to the team's collection.

When the celebration began, Allen said it was a great feeling to hear some Indians fans within the Comerica Park crowd.

"It was amazing," he said. "You're on the road. We're wearing gray uniforms and we're getting cheered for. It's an amazing feeling and we hope they keep coming for the rest of the series, and we can win some more baseball games."

Perez smiled when asked about being a part of the division-clinching out.

"It was one of the best moments of my life," said the catcher.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.