October 13, 1997 in Sports

Alomar Grounds Orioles Catcher’s Batting, Baserunning Heroics Elevate Indians To Brink Of A.L. Crown

Ken Berger Associated Press
 

With more hocus pocus at home plate and a game-winning hit from Sandy Alomar, the amazing Cleveland Indians are one win away from the World Series.

First, Alomar scored from second on a wild pitch in the fifth inning on a bizarre play that rivaled the wacky 12th inning of Game 3. Then, after the Indians blew a two-run lead, the former Spokane Indians receiver hit a game-winning single off Armando Benitez in the ninth Sunday night to give Cleveland an 8-7 victory over the stunned Baltimore Orioles.

“We expect to play Game 7 every day we come to the ballpark,” Alomar said. “We don’t take anything for granted no matter who we’re playing. We play like there is no tomorrow.”

Cleveland seized a 3-1 lead in the A.L. championship series as the frazzled Jacobs Field crowd cheered nonstop for several minutes after Alomar’s hit landed in the left-center field gap. Baltimore, with an A.L.-best 98 wins during the regular season, faces elimination in Game 5 tonight.

“Somebody’s messing with fate, the way I look at it,” Orioles manager Davey Johnson said.

Home plate, the pristine dish that symbolizes baseball’s endearing simplicity, has become the focal point for a messy, thrilling, nerve-wracking series.

Alomar - who squats behind it as the Indians’ catcher - was right in the middle of the mayhem. The star of the division series with a Game 4 homer that avoided elimination, he hit a two-run homer in the second and an RBI single in the fifth that led to the strange parade of runners on Arthur Rhodes’ wild pitch.

In another of Cleveland’s dramatic moments, Alomar got the winning hit in the ninth after a walk to Matt Williams with first base open.

“We’re the Cardiac Kids,” said reliever Brian Anderson, who pitched 3-1/3 innings of one-hit relief after rookie ace Jaret Wright was rocked for three homers in the third. “We definitely can keep things interesting.”

The Indians scored two runs on a wild pitch with two outs in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead and complete a comeback from a three-run deficit.

“I don’t know if fate is on our side,” Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. “If it is, good.”

It is obvious that this team has been touched by something. The Indians, arguably the most cursed franchise in sports for four decades, are keeping voices hoarse and hands chafed all over Ohio with this incredible foray into October.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Alomar said. “This team hasn’t played like this the whole season. It seems like in the postseason, we are a different team.”

Baltimore pulled within one in the seventh and Jose Mesa blew the lead in the ninth. He allowed the first two runners to reach on a walk and a single, and Rafael Palmeiro hit an RBI single off the reliever’s glove.

No more lead?

No problem.

Alomar and his magic wand were coming up in the bottom of the inning.

Manny Ramirez led off the ninth with a walk - the first runner in three-plus innings against reliever Alan Mills. Lefty Jesse Orosco came on and almost picked Ramirez off first, which would have been a replay of the ninth in Game 3.

Kevin Seitzer, batting above .400 as a pinch-hitter in his career, hit for Jim Thome and sacrificed Ramirez to second.

After Williams walked on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, Alomar came to the rescue.

Now, the Orioles place their whole season in the hands of Scott Kamieniecki, who starts Game 5 against Cleveland’s Chad Ogea.

“I’ve been two runs down and down to my last strike and won a ballgame, so don’t tell me about fate taking over,” Johnson said, referring to the New York Mets’ comeback against Boston in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. “We have a ways to go yet.”

Alomar won MVP honors with a decisive two-run homer in the All-Star game. He drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning single as the Indians clinched their third straight A.L. Central title by beating the Yankees.

Then came the Game 4 homer against the Yankees.

And now this.

The key to the night may have been the bizarre fifth.

Rhodes relieved Scott Erickson with two outs and walked Brian Giles, loading the bases. Rhodes then bounced a 2-2 pitch to Marquis Grissom, allowing Justice - Grissom’s teammate in Atlanta - to sprint home with the go-ahead run.

Indians 8, Orioles 7

Baltimore AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

ByAnderson cf 4 2 2 1 1 0 .375

RAlomar 2b 3 1 0 0 2 1 .143

Berroa rf 5 1 2 1 0 1 .250

1-Hmmnds rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Baines dh 3 1 1 2 0 0 .364

a-EDvs dh 2 0 0 0 0 1 .091

RPalmeiro 1b 5 1 3 2 0 2 .333

CRipken 3b 4 1 1 0 1 1 .250

Surhoff lf 5 0 2 1 0 1 .250

Webster c 4 0 1 0 0 1 .250

Bordick ss 4 0 0 0 0 2 .083

Totals 39 7 12 7 4 10

Cleveland AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Roberts 2b 3 0 0 0 0 0 .067

TFernandez 2b 2 0 1 0 0 0 .286

Vizquel ss 4 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Ramirez rf 3 2 3 1 2 0 .429

Thome 1b 3 1 1 0 1 0 .143

b-Seitzer ph 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Justice dh 5 2 2 0 0 0 .333

MaWilliams 3b 4 0 0 0 1 1 .250

SAlomar c 5 2 3 4 0 1 .188

Giles lf 3 1 2 0 1 0 .182

Grissom cf 4 0 1 1 0 1 .333

Totals 36 8 13 6 5 4

Baltimore 014 000 101 - 7

Cleveland 020 140 001 - 8

Two outs when winning run scored.

a-flied out for Baines in the 7th. b-sacrificed for Thome in the 9th.

1-ran for Berroa in the 9th.

E-ByAnderson (1), Webster (2). LOB-Baltimore 9, Cleveland 9. 2B-Surhoff 2 (2), Ramirez (1), Giles 2 (2). HR-Ramirez (2) off Erickson; RPalmeiro (1) off JrWright; Baines (1) off JrWright; ByAnderson (2) off JrWright; SAlomar (1) off Erickson. RBIs-ByAnderson (3), Berroa (1), Baines 2 (2), RPalmeiro 2 (2), Surhoff (1), Ramirez (3), SAlomar 4 (4), Grissom (4). SB- ByAnderson (2). S-Vizquel, Seitzer. GIDP-Justice.

Runners left in scoring position-Baltimore 5 (CRipken, Surhoff, Webster 3); Cleveland 4 (Roberts 2, Justice, Grissom).

Runners moved up-Thome.

DP-Baltimore 1 (CRipken, RAlomar and RPalmeiro).

Baltimore IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Erickson 4-2/3 11 7 6 1 3 87 4.26

Rhodes 1-1/3 1 0 0 2 0 21 0.00

Mills L,0-1 2 0 1 1 1 1 32 2.70

Orosco 2/3 0 0 0 0 0 5 0.00

ABenitez 0 1 0 0 1 0 12 13.50

Cleveland IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

JrWright 3 6 5 5 2 3 51 15.00

BrAnderson 3-1/3 1 1 1 1 4 48 1.69

Juden 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0.00

Assenmacher 1/3 1 0 0 0 0 3 0.00

MJackson 1 1 0 0 0 2 18 0.00

Mesa W,1-0 1-1/3 2 1 1 1 1 19 4.15

Mills pitched to 1 batter in the 9th, ABenitez pitched to 2 batters in the 9th, Juden pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

Inherited runners-scored-Rhodes 2-2, Orosco 1-0, ABenitez 1-1, Juden 1-1, Assenmacher 1-0, MJackson 2-0, Mesa 1-0.

IBB-off Rhodes (Ramirez) 1. WP-Rhodes.

T-3:32. A-45,081 (43,863).

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