DUQUETTE PUSHES ALL
THE RIGHT BUTTONS ...
ALDS, GAME #1
October 3, 1995
October 3, 1995 ...
On a team laden with power hitters, it was backup catcher Tony Pena, who hit a two-out home run off Zane Smith in the 13th inning to give the Indians a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox in the first game of their divisional series this morning at Jacobs Field.
It was one of the most memorable and action-packed playoff games in recent memory -- one highlighted by the confiscation of Albert Belle's bat after the Cleveland slugger slammed the game-tying homer to tie the score, 4-4, in the 11th.
There were two rain delays totaling an hour and two minutes, 14 pitchers had been used and Sox relievers escaped tight situation after tight situation in a game that wouldn't end. It was the longest night playoff game in major league history.
None was any tighter than the 12th, when Mike Maddux hit leadoff man Kenny Lofton with a pitch, then allowed Omar Vizquel to reach on a bunt attempt. Maddux fielded the bunt but threw low to Luis Alicea covering the bag. Alicea, who had four hits in the game, straddled the first base bag and umpire Joe Brinkman ruled Vizquel safe and Lofton raced around to third as Alicea argued.
After Carlos Baerga popped out to a drawn-in John Valentin, the Sox walked Belle to load the bases. Eddie Murray grounded to third, and Tim Naehring gunned the runner down at the plate. Jim Thome ended the threat when he grounded to Mo Vaughn, who slipped, fielded the ball and then got up to avoid a Buckneresque finish.
Naehring had homered in the top of the 11th to put the Sox ahead, but Belle connected off Rick Aguilera leading off the bottom. Once Belle circled the bases, Sox manager Kevin Kennedy had his bat confiscated by umpires to be checked for cork by American League officials. The bat was cut open after the game and there was nothing in it.
Albert Belle knocked in three runs and easily won the battle of MVP candidates against Mo Vaughn, who went a dreadful 0 for 6 and dropped a throw on a double play bid in the 10th.
Belle pulled a pitch low and away over the left-center fence, which is probably what caused the Sox to become suspicious. Kennedy's protest enraged Indians manager Mike Hargrove but only seemed to amuse Belle, who flexed his muscles and pointed to his biceps for the benefit of the Boston dugout.
Later in the 11th, Rick Aguilera grasped at his groin after a pitch, slipping on a mound that was pelted by rain throughout the game. Aguilera regrouped, and struck out Manny Ramirez before Paul Sorrento singled to put runners at first and second. Aguilera ran the count to 1-and-1 on Pena when Kennedy yanked his closer for Maddux, who retired Pena to send the game to the 12th.
In the top of the 11th, Naehring silenced the record crowd of 44,218 at Jacobs Field when he launched an 0-and-2 fastball down the middle of the plate from lefthander Jim Poole to give the Sox a brief 4-3 lead. Naehring, an Ohio native, had singled and hit a sacrifice bunt in three official plate appearances prior to the at-bat. It was the third Red Sox homer of the game, accouting for all four runs.
Aguilera relieved Mike Stanton, who has now allowed only one earned run in 23 2/3 innings of postseason work.
The closeness of the teams' regular-season series was more evident. The Indians took the season series, 7-6, and outscored the Red Sox, 71-69. It was a familiar story line as the Red Sox squandered a 2-0 lead, trailed, 3-2, and came back to tie.
Middle infielders Valentin and Alicea made Red Sox postseason history when both stroked home runs. Alicea, who led the Sox attack with four hits and a stolen base, tied the game, 3-3, on an ankle-high 3-2 pitch by Julian Tavarez in the eighth inning.
The Sox, who led, 2-0, through five innings, behind an impressive performance by Roger Clemens (seven innings, five hits), were snakebitten by their defense, which was the worst in the American League this season.
Mike Macfarlane dropped a throw to the plate in the sixth that allowed the tying run to score on Belle's double.
There were two outs and nobody on when Clemens walked Omar Vizquel. Carlos Baerga then seized the hit-and-run moment, guiding a single between second and third after John Valentin went to cover the bag, leaving the hole wide open.
Belle, who had struck out swinging on a drop-dead forkball in the fourth with runners on, pounced on Clemens' second pitch, a high fastball, and blasted it to the left-center wall. Vizquel scored and Baerga came around third with a head of steam. Valentin took the relay in short left-center and gunned a one-hop throw on the money to Mike Macfarlane, which the catcher dropped and kicked.
After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Al Nipper, Murray laced Clemens' next pitch to right field, scoring the go-ahead run.
Cleveland starter Dennis Martinez exited after six, allowing five hits on two runs.
The game's first dramatic moment came in the fourth when Clemens struck out Belle on a 2-2 pitch with two men aboard and one out.
In the third, an excellent take-out slide of Baerga by Alicea and Dwayne Hosey's speed down the line helped avoid a double play and keep the inning alive. Martinez then left a 1-and-0 pitch too far over the plate and Valentin went with it, slamming it a few rows into the right-field grandstand.