October 10, 1997 in Sports

Cleveland Finds A Way To Dodge Another Bullet

Associated Press
 

Four outs away from disaster for the second time this October, the Cleveland Indians found a way to win - again.

Marquis Grissom hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning off Armando Benitez on Thursday night, giving the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the A.L. championship series.

With the Indians trailing 4-2 in the eighth and on the verge of falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-7 series, Grissom hit a shot into the Orioles’ bullpen that stunned the Camden Yards crowd and surely sent living rooms and bars in Ohio into a frenzy.

In their division series with New York, the Indians were four outs away from elimination when Sandy Alomar homered off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to tie the game. Cleveland won in the ninth inning to force a decisive Game 5.

Maybe the Orioles weren’t watching that night, because they let the Indians repeat their magic.

“We won the first game here, but you’ve got to have that killer instinct,” Orioles outfielder Eric Davis said. “We were a pitch away from being up 2-0.”

Benitez had struck out Grissom in their only two previous matchups. This time, though, the center fielder got the best of the hard-throwing right-hander.

“Shoot yeah, it is,” Grissom said when asked if it was the biggest hit of his career. “… In these type of games, you’ve got to get good pitching and swing the bats. That’s why we’re here.”

Cleveland benefited from two walks and a controversial call in the eighth that set up Grissom’s shot.

Benitez struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Branson to open the inning before walking Sandy Alomar. He struck out Tony Fernandez and appeared to get pinch-hitter Jim Thome as well on a 3-2 pitch.

Thome checked his swing on the pitch and although TV replays showed his bat had crossed the plate, he was awarded first base. Grissom, who went 3-for-4, then drove a 1-1 pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark, bringing the Indians out of the dugout.

“I thought it was a great call,” a smiling Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said of Thome’s checked swing. “I didn’t think he swung. It depends on whose side you’re on as to whether or not he went.”

In last year’s playoffs, Benitez gave up a tie-breaking grand slam to Albert Belle in Cleveland’s 9-4 win in Game 3.

Paul Assenmacher got two outs for the win, Mike Jackson finished the eighth and Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for the save. It was the Cleveland bullpen’s night to shine. The Indians relievers held the Orioles scoreless over the final 3-1/3 innings.

Following a travel day Friday, the series will resume at Jacobs Field on Saturday. The Orioles will send ace Mike Mussina to the mound against Orel Hershiser.

Until Grissom’s dramatic shot, it appeared Baltimore’s new shortstop and its old one would push the Orioles a little closer to the World Series.

Mike Bordick snapped a sixth-inning tie with a two-run single, and Cal Ripken hit a two-run homer - his first career postseason shot - as the Orioles took a 4-2 lead into the eighth and turned it over to their brilliant bullpen, which was 83-4 when protecting leads after the seventh inning this year.

“It’s just another loss, a tough loss,” Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. “I can’t think of another time this year that Armando didn’t hold the lead in the eighth.”

Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the first inning for Cleveland, which stranded seven runners through the first four innings and was 0-for-7 in the series with runners in scoring position before Grissom’s homer.

Baltimore starter Jimmy Key, one of the game’s best control pitchers, set a postseason record by hitting three batters in one inning.

Indians 5, Orioles 4

Cleveland AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Roberts lf 5 0 0 0 0 2 .111

Giles lf 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Vizquel ss 3 1 0 0 1 2 .000

Ramirez rf 4 1 1 2 1 1 .143

MaWilliams 3b 5 0 1 0 0 1 .250

Justice dh 2 0 1 0 0 0 .400

a-Branson dh 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000

SAlomar c 3 1 0 0 1 0 .000

TFernandez 2b 2 0 0 0 1 1 .000

Seitzer 1b 2 0 0 0 1 1 .000

b-Thome 1b 0 1 0 0 1 0 .000

Grissom cf 4 1 3 3 0 0 .571

Totals 32 5 6 5 6 10

Baltimore AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

ByAnderson cf 4 0 0 0 1 0 .250

RAlomar 2b 5 0 0 0 0 1 .125

EDavis rf 5 0 1 0 0 0 .200

RPalmeiro 1b 4 1 2 0 0 2 .250

Surhoff lf 3 1 1 0 1 0 .333

CRipken 3b 4 2 2 2 0 1 .429

Baines dh 3 0 1 0 0 0 .286

c-Berroa dh 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Hoiles c 3 0 0 0 1 1 .000

Bordick ss 3 0 1 2 0 0 .167

d-Hammonds ph 0 0 0 0 1 0 — Totals 35 4 8 4 4 5

Cleveland 200 000 030 5

Baltimore 020 002 000 4

a-struck out for Justice in the 8th. b-walked for Seitzer in the 8th. c-flied out for Baines in the 8th. d-walked for Bordick in the 9th.

E-Roberts (1), Ramirez (1), TFernandez (1), RAlomar (1). LOB-Cleveland 9, Baltimore 8. 2B-RPalmeiro (1). HR-Grissom (1) off ABenitez; CRipken (1) off Nagy; Ramirez (1) off Key. RBIs-Ramirez 2 (2), Grissom 3 (3), CRipken 2 (2), Bordick 2 (2). SB-MaWilliams (1), Grissom (1). GIDP-Ramirez, Hoiles.

Runners left in scoring position-Cleveland 5 (Roberts, Ramirez, Seitzer 3); Baltimore 5 (ByAnderson 2, EDavis, RPalmeiro 2).

DP-Cleveland 1 (MaWilliams and Seitzer); Baltimore 1 (CRipken, RAlomar and RPalmeiro).

Cleveland IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Nagy 5-2/3 8 4 4 2 1 112 6.35 Morman 2/3 0 0 0 0 0 10 0.00 Juden 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.00 Assenmachr W,1-0 2/3 0 0 0 1 2 12 0.00 MJackson 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 9 0.00 Mesa S,1 1 0 0 0 1 1 13 0.00

Baltimore IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Key 4 5 2 2 2 4 77 4.50 Kamieniecki 3 0 0 0 1 1 38 0.00 ABenitez L,0-1 1 1 3 3 2 3 30 27.00 Mills 1 0 0 0 1 2 20 0.00 Inherited runners-scored-Morman 2-0, MJackson 1-0.

HBP-by Key (TFernandez), by Key (Justice), by Key (Vizquel).

T-3:53. A-49,131 (48,262).

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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