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This week in 1995: Playoff baseball for the Cleveland Indians for the first time in 41 years

Finally, after a long excruciating forty-one year wait, playoff baseball was returning to Cleveland. The Tribe had cruised essentially wire to wire with one of the most dominant teams the league had seen in years. First up would be the AL East champion Boston Red Sox.

The 1995 ALDS Game 1 hero, Tony Pena
The 1995 ALDS Game 1 hero, Tony Pena
Craig Jones/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians had just powered through the regular season with an amazing 100-44 record, steamrolling just about everyone in their path. The division had been clinched essentially in August, so would there be any rust as the team basically played out the string?

Normally a team with the best record gets to face the weakest playoff participant. In 1995, the Wild Card just happened to be the New York Yankees, but they actually finished a half-game ahead of the AL West champion Seattle Mariners. And in 1995, it was not allowed for a division champion to play a division rival in the Wild Card round. Therefore, instead of playing the Mariners or Yankees, the Indians were slated to play the Boston Red Sox, who were the second best team in the AL.

AL Division Series Game One:

October 3, 1995; Jacob's Field; Red Sox 4, Indians 5, 13 innings

After waiting for so many years, the fans filled Jacob's Field in a manner of minutes, cautiously hopeful that the best team they had seen in decades would exorcise so many bad, bad memories.

To nobody's surprise, manager Mike Hargrove chose the ace of the staff, Dennis Martinez in the opener. The opposing starter would be none other than Roger Clemens, who usually feasted on Tribe hitters. The weather wasn't half bad, 61F, with a bit of rain and a light wind at the start of the game. Martinez made quick work in the first, retired all three batters on 16 pitches. But Clemens matched him. The first hit of the game was by Mike Greenwell in the second, but he was stranded and Clemens had another perfect frame.

In the third, Luis Alicea dribbled one through the left side, and the player who should have been Albert Belle's competition for MVP, John Valentin smoked one to deep right. A hush went through the crowd as a quick 2-0 deficit to Clemens was usually a death sentence. He pitched a perfect third of the game before Kenny Lofton opened the fourth with a sharp single. With one out, Carlos Baerga also singled, but both were stranded.

The game stayed 2-0 until the sixth. Clemens retired the first two batters before walking Omar Vizquel. Baerga followed with an infield single. Belle stood at the plate and cracked a double into the left field gap, tying the game and he took third on an error by catcher Mike Macfarlane. Eddie Murray followed with an RBO single to right, and voila, the Tribe had their first postseason lead.

Julian Tavarez took over for Martinez in the seventh and got a lineout and two K's. But as usual, a soft hitting infielder would be the bane. Alicea led off the eighth with a homer of his own to tie it up. Tavarez would depart after a single by Valentin. Paul Assenmacher did his job, striking out Mo Vaughn. And Eric Plunk finished off the frame. The tribe stranded a pair in the bottom half. The Red Sox did the same in the ninth. And after going down in order to Mike Stanton in the ninth, the game headed to extra innings.

Jose Mesa allowed just a walk in the tenth. Sandy Alomar got aboard on a bunt single. After pinch runner Wayne Kirby was erased on a ground ball, Vizquel stole second, but was also stranded. Jim Poole took over in the eleventh and Tim Naehring took him deep. Closer Rick Aguilera came on for the save, but Albert Belle crushed one to deep left to tie it once again. This is where the Red Sox asked for Belle's bat to be confiscated and he made the famous bicep pose. Both Jim Thome and Paul Sorrento singled, but Mike Maddux would retire Tony Pena to end the threat.

Poole got into a bit of trouble in the twelfth with a double and awalk, but he did strike out both Dwayne Hosey and Vaughn. Ken Hill retired Jose Canseco for the final out. The Tribe loaded the bases in the bottom on a HBP, error and free pass to Belle. But neither Murray nor Thome could end the game against Zane Smith. Hill worked around a leadoff single in the top of the thirteenth, setting the stage for the very dramatic ending. Smith retired both Manny Ramirez and pinch hitter Herb Perry. But Pena worked the count to 3-0 and smacked one over the little green monster in left to send all the Tribe faithful home extremely happy.

AL Division Series Game Two:

October 4, 1995; Jacob's Field; Red Sox 0, Indians 4

After a wild and nail biting the night prior, game two found veteran Orel Hershiser on the bump. The Tribe defense did him no favors in the first as Belle misplayed a flyball and Sorrento dropped a throw from Bizquel. But luckily Sorrento get Hosey trying to get the third. The Tribe stranded Vizquel and Belle at second and third in the bottom half.

The Sox loaded the bases in the second, and Again Hershiser dodged danger.

The game remained scoreless until the fifth. Erik Hanson walked Sorrento to start the inning. Alomar bunted him over and Sorrento then took third on a wild pitch. After Lofton walked, Vizquel doubles toe right field gap, scoring both Sorrento and the speedy Lofton.

After the dangerous second inning, Hershiser cruised. He only allowed one more baserunner until the eighth. Alicea led off with a walk, but was forced by a Hosey grounder. With the dangerous Valentin up next, Hargrove called on Tacerez, who retired him on pop up. Assenmacher then entered to strike out Vaughn.

Hanson actually pitched a good game, but he walked Belle after one out in the eighth. Murray then deposited one down the right field line for two insurance runs. Mesa closed out the game out by retiring Canseco, Greenwell and Naehring on just four pitches.

AL Division Series Game Three:

October 6, 1995; Fenway Park; Indians 8, Red Sox 2

After a travel day, the teams headed to venerable Fenway Park.  Charls Nagy started for the Tribe while knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was his counterpart. After a scoreless first, Murray walked with one out. Thome smacked one down the right field line for a quick 2-0 lead. In the third, the Tribe plated one more and a two out single Baerga. Wakefield completely lost the zone and walked Belle, Murray and Thome to force in the third run.

Nagy stranded two in both the first and third, but was not as lucky in the third. Three consecutive singles by reggie Jefferson, Naehring and Alicea loaded the bases. Macfarlane lined out to left to score their first run.

The wheels finally came off for Wakefield in the sixth. Murray singled to start it. Thome flew out to deep right, and then Ramirez walked. Sorrento singled to right to score Murray. Then Alomar doubled to deep left-center, plating Ramirez and Sorrento stopping at third. Rheal Cormier relived Wakefiled and struck out Thome for out number two. But Omar singled in two more and then Baerga doubled him in. Maddux came in and did retire Belle, but the damage had been done. The Tribe had batted around and extended the lead to 8-1.

Nagy left after seven innings and Tavarez was called upon again. He struck out Jefferson, but three straight base knocks by Naehring, Alicea and Macfarlane loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Willie McGee hit into a fielder's choice, as did Valentin, but one more run had been tallied. Assenmacher pitched a perfect ninth and the Tribe had swept the red Sox in three games.

Next Week: The Indians take on the winner of the New York Yankees-Seattle Mariners Division Series.