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October 23 in Cleveland Indians history: Comeback comes up short

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Only one game today and the comeback came up just a bit short as the Tribe fell behind 3-2 in the Series.

Sandy crushes a three run shot in the third to take a 4-2 lead.
Sandy crushes a three run shot in the third to take a 4-2 lead.
AP-Al Behrman

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1997 World Series Game 5, Jacobs Field: Marlins 8, Indians 7

After knotting up the series with a blowout win in game four, the Indians were faced with having to travel back to Florida no matter what. Game five was a rematch of game one, Orel Hershiser versus Livan Hernandez.

Devon White hit the first pitch of the game on the ground to second. Edgar Renteria and Gary Sheffield followed with singles. But Hershiser avoided any damage, getting Bobby Bonilla to hit into the 4-6-3 double play. Bip Roberts coaxed a walk to start the bottom half. Omar Vizquel bunted him over, but both Manny Ramirez and David Justice grounded out.

In the second, Darren Daulton smoked a ground rule double to start it off. Moises Alou popped out and Jeff Conine grounded to first, moving Daulton to third. Charles Johnson singled in Daulton for the first score of the game and then Craig Counsell walked. White doubled to the gap in right-center scoring Johnson, but Counsell was cut down at the plate on the relay, Ramirez to Roberts to Sandy Alomar, keeping it a 2-0 lead.

The Tribe finally made Livan work in the second. Matt Williams grounded out, but Jim Thome tripled to right. Alomar singled in Thome and moved to second on Brian Giles walk. Marquis Grissom moved them both over with a dribbler to third. Roberts walked to load the bases, but Hernandez avoided any more damage by getting Omar to lineout to deep left-center.

Orel had a quick third, a grounder and two lineouts by Renteria, Sheffield and Bonilla. That gave the Indians hitters another quick crack at Hernandez. But Manny grounded out and Justice struck out. Williams walked and moved over on a wild pitch. Thome also walked so when Alomar crushed one to deep left, three scored. Giles walked and Grissom singled, but again Hernandez limited further damage with Roberts lining out to short.

The fourth went quickly for both Hershiser and Hernandez, 1-2-3. And the fifth was similar with the exception of a Thome walk and Alomar 6-4-3 double play. But the sixth was Orel's undoing. He struck out Renteria, but Sheffield bled one through the hole. Bonilla walked and Daulton lined out to left. Moises Alou gave the lead back to the Marlins with a line shot over the fence. Two more singles by Conine and Johnson, and in came Alvin Morman from the pen. Counsell worked a walk, and Mike Hargrove called for Eric Plunk. White worked a full count walk, making it 6-4 before Renteria whiffed.

Staked to another lead, Hernandez went to work. He got the Tribe in order in both the sixth and seventh on just 19 pitches, again with a Manny single and Justice double play. Jeff Juden pitched a perfect seventh himself, but ran into trouble in the eighth. Alou singled back to the box and stole second. Conine moved him over on a ground ball and Johnson plated him with a single to left. Paul Assenmacher retired Counsell after a ten pitch battle. White doubled to left, Johnson heading to third before Renteria lined out to deep left, keeping it 7-4.

Hernandez worked around a leadoff Williams single and two out walk to Giles in the bottom of the eighth. Jose Mesa came out for the ninth, and in ominous fashion, gave up a one out double to Bonilla. Daulton singled to short right, moving pinch runner Alex Arias to third. Alou singled to center, scoring Arias and moving Daulton to second. Daulton stole third, but Mesa retired Conine on a popup and whiffed Johnson. The Marlins now led 8-4 headed to the bottom of the ninth.

Hernandez came out to start the ninth and muffed a grounder by Roberts. Omar singled to center moving Roberts to third. Jim Leyland called for Robb Nen. Manny struck out after fighting off two foul balls. With Justice up, Omar moved to second on defensive indifference. Justice singled up the middle, cutting the lead to two. Williams hit into a potential game ending double play, but Counsell's errant relay got Williams into scoring position. Thome singled to left to cut it to one, but Alomar's magic did not show up late as his fly to right ended up just a bit short in deep right. Those runs in the last two innings potentially were the back breaker as the Marlins now held a 3-2 series lead, with games six and seven back in South Florida.