After sweeping away the second best team in the American League, the Indians had to wait for the winner of the other Divisional Series to conclude. It went the maximum with the Seattle Mariners topping the New York Yankees in five games.
The Mariners had just completed a hotly contested divisional series with the New York Yankees. Their staff was depleted due to two extra-inning games, including the clincher, which went eleven. Plus the team got just one day of rest. So the Tribe not only had the edge from being the most dominant team in baseball that year, but a weary Mariners squad to boot. Although I am still unclear as to how Seattle got home field in this series.
AL Championship Series
October 10, 1995; Kingdome; Indians 2, Mariners 3
Ace Dennis Martinez opened the series, taking on Bob Wolcott. Wolcott was very nervous in the top of the first, walking the first three hitters, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Carlos Baerga. But for once on the season, the Tribe offense didn't deliver as Albert Belle struck out, Eddie Murray popped out on foul ground and Jim Thome grounded out. In the second, the offense stranded a one out double by Paul Sorrento.
Martinez's first hit came in the second. Unfortunately, Mike Blowers hit a deep enough fly ball over the fence after Jay Buhner had walked. Wolcott again courted danger in the third. Baerga led off with ta single and Belle walked. After Murray lined out, Thome drove in one with a single and then Manny Ramirez loaded the bases with another single. But Sorrento ended the inning with a double play grounder.
It stayed 2-1 until the seventh when Belle hit a one out solo shot to tie the game. But the Mariners struck right back. With one out, Buhner hit a ground rule double off Martinez. Then Blowers hit a grounder to Thome, who erred on the throw, making it first and second. Light hitting Luis Sojo doubled down the left field line for a 3-2 lead. Julian Tavarez retired the next batters to keep the score the same.
In the eighth, the Indians hit back to back singles with two out off Jeff Nelson and Norm Charlton, but Vizquel couldn't come through. In the ninth Charlton was nasty as he struck out both Baerga and Belle, and then retired Murray on a grounder.
In total the Tribe stranded 12 baserunners and were sitting in a 1-0 series hole. Lofton was the hitting star, going 3-3 with a triple and two walks, but did not score.
AL Championship Series
October 11, 1995; Kingdome; Indians 5, Mariners 2
Game two felt like a must win as the Indians did not want to go back home down 0-2 and have to try and beat Randy Johnson. And again in the first, the Tribe threatened but did not score. After Lofton flew out and Vizquel popped out off of Tim Belcher, Baerga singled and Belle walked. Murray did hit one deep, but not quite deep enough. Orel Hershiser also stranded a pair. Vince Coleman led off with a single. With two outs and a base open, he intentionally gave Edgar Martinez first and struck out Tino Martinez. Neither started got into any more trouble until the fifth.
Manny led off with a single and was forced on Sorrento's grounder. Sandy Alomar flew out to right. Lofton singled up the middles and Vizquel coaxed a walk to load the bases. Baerga also singled back up the middle to score both Sorrento and the speedy Lofton and the Tribe had their first lead of the series.
In the sixth, after two out, Manny crushed one to deep right making it 3-0. After Sorrento singled, Alomar tripled to left t score him and knock Belcher from the contest. Ken Griffey Jr. got one right back with a solo shot off Hershiser, but with just one third left to go in the game, Cleveland led 4-1.
In the seventh, the tribe loaded the bases against Bobby Ayala with walks to Vizquel and Belle, and a single by Murray. But Thome hit into an inning ending double play. Hershiser induced three ground balls on just ten pitches in the seventh. Manny opened the eighth with another solos shot to make it 5-1. After eight fantastic innings with just four hits and a walk, Hershiser gave way to Jose Mesa. After Tino Martinez grounded out, Buhner crushed one to deep left-center. Blowers lined out and then pinch hitter Alex Diaz had an infield single. But the tying run never got to bat as pinch hitter Doug Strange grounded back to Mesa.
The Tribe would head home tied at one game apiece.
AL Championship Series
October 13, 1995; Jacobs Field; Mariners 5, Indians 2; 11 innings
The Big Unit faced Charles Nagy in the pivotal game three. Nagy stranded a pair in the first as the Indians went down in order. Buhner led off the second with a solo shot to left, and again the Indians went down in order. Nagy was a bit unlucky in the third. After two were away, Griffey singled and stole second, but he ended up at third after an errant Alomar throw. Then Thome muffed a grounder from Edgar Martinez to make it 2-0 Mariners and Randy Johnson was in shut down mode, because after three innings he was perfect.
But Lofton tripled to left to start the bottom of the fourth and scored on a Vizquel fly ball to halve the lead. Nagy only allowed one single in the fourth before having perfect frames in the fifth and sixth, while striking out the side in the sixth. The Tribe threatened in the fifthafter Alomar walked and Alvaro Espinoza singled him to third, but Johnson struck out Lofton to end it.
In the eighth, Espinoza made it to second when Buhner could not handle his fly ball in right. Lofton singled to left, scoring pinch runner Wayne Kirby, and the Tribe had come back on Johnson, tying it at two. Both starters gave way to the bullpen in the ninth. Mesa had a clean 1-2-3 inning, but Charlton navigated some trouble. He hit Belle and Murray forced him. Manny walked and Mike Hargrove pinch ran Murray with Ruben Amaro. But Charlton struck out Herb Perry and Alomar grounded out.
Julian Tavarez pitched the tenth, allowing just a one out single to Sojo and the Tribe went 1-2-3 against Charlton. Joey Cora led off the eleventh with a single to right off Tavarez. Paul Assenmacher did his job and retired Griffey on a fly ball to center. Eric Plunk was called upon and got Edgar Martinez to pop out to Alomar behind the plate. After Cora stole second, Plunk gave Tino Martinez first base, setting up the force play. But Plunk hung one that Buhner crushed to deep right center.
Charlton came out for his third inning of work and got Baerga to ground out, Belle to fly out and Amaro to pop out to end the game. The home crowd went home with the Indians now trailing 2-1 in the series.
Next Up: The Indians try to come back in the series.