October 16, 1997 in Sports

Magical Tribe Triumphs Cleveland Off To World Series After Fernandez’s 11th-Inning Hr Overcomes Another Sterling Outing By Mussina

Associated Press
 

They must be hiding good luck charms in those high socks of theirs.

How else to explain the strange fashion in which the Cleveland Indians keep finding ways to win?

The Indians won the A.L. pennant for the second time in three years Wednesday, beating the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 in Game 6 on an 11th-inning home run by late substitute Tony Fernandez.

The Indians open the World Series on the road Saturday night against the Florida Marlins.

Cleveland managed only three hits, yet still won their fourth one-run game of the series. The Indians prevailed in Game 2 on a three-run homer by their No. 9 hitter, Game 3 on a blundered squeeze bunt and Game 4 with the aid of a wild pitch that scored two runs.

“This whole series I didn’t think we caught many breaks,” Orioles manager Davey Johnson said.

“You don’t win this many one-run games because of fate or luck, but because you mind your Ps and Qs and you’ve got talent,” Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove insisted.

The Indians concluded a magical week with their best trick yet - surviving another brilliant effort by Mike Mussina and making the Orioles disappear from the playoffs.

The Indians managed only one hit in eight innings off Mussina, who turned in his second straight sensational performance in a losing cause. Mussina left after having thrown 108 pitches in his second successive start with three days’ rest.

“I don’t know if we’ve played a game this postseason in which we’ve been dominated by a pitcher like Mike Mussina,” Hargrove said. “He was absolutely outstanding.”

Mussina set an ALCS record with 15 strikeouts in Game 3, but the Orioles failed to score during his seven innings and lost 2-1 in the 12th. The right-hander was even sharper this time, retiring 20 of the first 21 batters while allowing only a leadoff double by David Justice in the fifth.

Again, however, Baltimore couldn’t give him any support and he left after allowing only one hit, two walks and striking out 10.

His line for the ALCS: 15 innings, four hits, no earned runs, 25 strikeouts and two no-decisions.

Mussina set records for strikeouts in an ALCS (25) and in one postseason (41).

Baltimore stranded 14 runners and went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Rafael Palmeiro was the worst offender, going 0 for 3 and stranding five.

Cleveland starter Charles Nagy allowed nine hits and three walks in 7-1/3 innings, but he matched zeros with Mussina to keep the Indians in the game.

The Indians finally broke the scoreless battle in the 11th, when Fernandez launched a 2-0 pitch from Armando Benitez over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field to stun the crowd of 49,075. Fernandez was playing for Bip Roberts, who was out of the lineup after taking a line drive below his left thumb.

“I knew something special was going to happen tonight, but I couldn’t tell you I was going to hit a home run,” Fernandez said. “It worked out for the best. I’m glad I was able to contribute in a positive way.”

It was the first postseason home run in 133 at-bats for Fernandez.

“I’m a genius aren’t I?” joked Hargrove. “It’s an absolutely fantastic story. It’s hard to embellish on it. I didn’t tell him to hit a home run that last time up or anything.”

Benitez also gave up the gamewinning hit in Game 2, a three-run shot by series MVP Marquis Grissom, and the decisive RBI single to Sandy Alomar in Game 4.

“Unfortunately, he’s a young pitcher and when you get behind in the count you can’t afford to throw a pitch up in the strike zone. It didn’t happen all year,” Johnson said.

“It was a learning experience. Hopefully I will learn from this season and come back better next year,” Benitez said.

Brian Anderson got the win, pitching a scoreless 10th inning, and Jose Mesa got three outs for the save.

The Orioles won a league-best 98 games during the regular season in becoming the third A.L. team to stay in first place from wire-to-wire.

They’ll be remembered as the first of those three to fail to win the World Series.

The Indians, who chose to pull their socks up to the calves as a show of unity, went the distance without Albert Belle, the sullen star who left as a free agent during the off-season. The new-look Tribe has only 10 players left from the 1995 World Series team which lost to the Atlanta Braves.

Indians 1, Orioles 0

Cleveland AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Vizquel ss 5 0 0 0 0 0 .040

TFernandez 2b 5 1 2 1 0 0 .357

Ramirez rf 4 0 0 0 1 1 .286

Justice dh 3 0 1 0 1 1 .333

MaWilliams 3b 4 0 0 0 0 3 .217

Thome 1b 4 0 0 0 0 2 .071

SAlomar c 4 0 0 0 0 1 .125

Giles lf 3 0 0 0 1 2 .188

Grissom cf 4 0 0 0 0 4 .261

Totals 36 1 3 1 3 14

Baltimore AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

ByAnderson cf 5 0 2 0 1 2 .360

RAlomar 2b 5 0 1 0 1 1 .182

Berroa rf 5 0 2 0 0 1 .286

Walton rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 —

Baines dh 3 0 1 0 1 1 .353

a-EDavis dh 1 0 0 0 0 1 .154

RPalmeiro 1b 3 0 0 0 0 1 .280

1-Hammonds lf 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000

CRipken 3b 3 0 2 0 2 1 .348

Surhoff lf-1b 5 0 0 0 0 0 .200

Hoiles c 5 0 0 0 0 1 .143

Bordick ss 4 0 2 0 0 1 .158

b-Webster ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .222

Totals 41 0 10 0 5 11

Cleveland 000 000 000 01 1

Baltimore 000 000 000 00 0

a-struck out for Baines in the 10th. b-grounded out for Bordick in the 11th.

1-ran for Palmeiro in the 8th.

LOB-Cleveland 5, Baltimore 14. 2B-Justice (1), Berroa (2), CRipken (2), Bordick (1). HR-TFernandez (1) off ABenitez.

RBIs-TFernandez (2). SB-Hammonds (1). GIDP-RAlomar, Berroa.

Runners left in scoring position-Cleveland 2 (MaWilliams, SAlomar); Baltimore 7 (ByAnderson 2, RPalmeiro 3, Hoiles, Bordick).

Runners moved up-Berroa, Baines.

DP-Cleveland 2 (Vizquel and Thome), (MaWilliams, TFernandez and Thome).

Cleveland IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Nagy 7-1/3 9 0 0 3 4 119 2.77 Assenmacher 1/3 0 0 0 0 0 1 9.00 MJackson 1-1/3 0 0 0 1 3 28 0.00 BrAnderson W,1-0 1 0 0 0 1 2 20 1.42 Mesa S,2 1 1 0 0 0 2 18 3.38

Baltimore IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Mussina 8 1 0 0 2 10 107 0.60 RaMyers 2 1 0 0 1 2 34 5.06 ABenitez L,0-2 1 1 1 1 0 2 12 12.00 Inherited runners-scored-Assenmacher 2-0, MJackson 2-0.

HBP-by Nagy (RPalmeiro).

T-3:52. A-49,075 (48,262).

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

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