October 26 in Cleveland Indians history: Ecstasy and Agony

Jim Thome celebrates after his bomb in the eighth inning of Game 5 in 1995 - JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

Now we come to one of my all-time favorite games ever and one of the most heartbreaking as well. I attended Game 5 in 1995 to see Hershiser beat Maddux and watch the Thome bomb to dead center. And then we had the one that slipped away in Game 7 of the 1997 Series.

October 26

W

L

Pct

All-Time

1

1

.500

Home

1

0

1.000

Road

0

1

.000

Extra Innings

0

1

.000

Thursday

1

0

1.000

Sunday

0

1

.000

Braves WS-5 1995

1

0

1.000

Marlins WS-7 1997

0

1

.000

1995 World Series Game 5, Jacobs Field: Indians 5, Braves 4

After an unsuccessful game four, the Tribe faced elimination with Greg Maddux on the bump for game five. In a rematch of game one, Orel Hershiser also returned to try and silence the Braves bats. [This is my favorite Tribe game ever as I actually attended this game]

Both Marquis Grissom and Luis Polonia hit weak grounders back to Hershiser to start the game. Chipper Jones crunched one down the left field line for a stand up double before Fred McGriff fanned. Kenny Lofton popped into shallow right and Omar Vizquel worked a five pitch walk. Carlos Baerga moved him over on a grounder to second. Albert Belle then crushed one down the right field line to take a 2-0 lead. While Eddie Murray batted, Maddux threw one high and tight that almost hit him. The benches cleared for a bit and Hershiser and Maddux ended up chatting on the mound. Murray eventually walked and was picked off first by Charlie O'Brien.

Possibly charged by the impromptu chat with Maddux, Hershiser struck out David Justice looking, got Ryan Klesko to ground to Baerga and Mark Lemke hit a popup to Omar. Maddux matched his zero, having Thome hit back to the box and both Manny Ramirez and Paul Sorrento fanning. The third was more of the same for Orel, a Charlie O'Brien grounder to Omar, a Rafael Belliard whiff and Grissom lining to right. Maddux got Sandy Alomar to ground out, Lofton to fly out and retired Baerga on a grounder after Lofton lines a single to center. After three, the lead still stood at 2-0.

Luis Polonia sliced that lead in half by homering to deep right leading off the fourth. But Jones, McGriff and Justice went down in order after him. As did Belle, Murray and Thome to Maddux in the fourth, with Murray almost taking off Maddux's head with a screaming liner that he snagged. Klesko laced a single to right to start the fifth. Lemke hit one back to Orel, who erred when trying to start the double play at second. O'Brien bunted them both over and Bobby Cox substituted Dwight Smith for Belliard. Orel intentionally passed him to load the bases. Grissom dribbled one to the third base side of the mound on the first pitch to tie the game and leave the bases loaded. Polonia then got Orel out of the inning with a 6-4-3 ground ball.

Mike Mordecai replaced Belliard in the field and Maddux only allowed a two out double to Alomar in the fifth. Orel had his third 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, on just nine pitches. The Indians finally mounted a rally against Maddux in that sixth. Omar grounded to short to start the inning, but Baerga doubled down the left field line. Maddux gave Belle first. Murray moved Baerga to third on his liner to right. Thome hit one back up the middle with Baerga scoring and Belle racing to third. He scored as well when Manny singled to right. Maddux got Sorrento for the third out, but the Tribe had doubled up the Braves, 4-2.

Mike Hargrove this time went defensive, replacing Manny and Sorrento with Wayne Kirby and Herb Perry, although they flipped batting positions. Hershiser had another perfect inning, three straight grounders by Klesko, Lemke and pinch Hitter Javy Lopez. Lopez was retired by Alomar unassisted on his swinging bunt. Maddux came back out for the seventh and after Alomar singled to right, got Lofton, Omar and Baerga in order.

In the eighth, Mordecai singled off Hershiser to start the frame. Grissom whistled one back up the middle, but Orel snagged it and doubled Mordecai off first. After Polonia struck out, the Indians were three outs from forcing a game six in Atlanta. After 102 pitches from Maddux, Brad Clontz took over for him in the bottom half. He struck out Belle and Murray grounded out. After fouling off three pitched from Clontz, Thome finally got a pitch he liked on the eighth pitch and hit one over the trees in center, which would prove fortuitous.

Because, in the ninth, Jose Mesa once again looked shaky. Chipper lined out to deep right with McGriff following with a double to deep left. Justice hit one to Baerga and McGriff moved over to third. After fouling off Mesa's first two pitched, he crushed one to deep right, making it just a one run game, 5-4. Finally, Mesa got out of the inning by whiffing Lemke. The Tribe had won a tough game, but would have to beat both Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in games six and seven if they were to end their title drought.

1997 World Series Game 7, Pro Player Stadium: Marlins 3, Indians 2, 11 innings

After forcing a winner take all game the night before, Mike Hargrove decided on bringing back Jaret Wright on short rest rather than matching up Charles Nagy in a rematch with Al Leiter. And Wright ended up not disappointing. But Leiter started off even better. Omar Vizquel grounded to third, Tony Fernandez lined to center and Manny Ramirez grounded to short in the first. Devon White grounded to short, then Edgar Renteria doubled to right. After pitching around Gary Sheffield, Darren Daulton hit into an inning ending double play.

David Justice grounded to first, Matt Williams whiffed and Sandy Alomar flew out to center to give Leiter two perfect innings. Moises Alou popped to second in short center, Bobby Bonilla grounded to second and Charles Johnson struck out looking as Wright matched Leiter.

Jim Thome became the Tribe's first base runner after walking on a full count. Marquis Grissom then shot one through the hole into left, getting a rally started. Wright did as he was expected and bunted them over. Omar made the second out, popping to short. But Fernandez came through, lining one into center scoring both Thome and Grissom. Manny walked and Justice struck out. But in a game seven, drawing first blood is always a good thing. Wright got Craig Counsell to fly out to center, but walked Leiter. After whiffing White he also walked Renteria but wiggled out of the mini jam with a Sheffield pop fly to third.

In the fourth, Williams struck out, Alomar singled, then Thome flew out to right and Grissom struck out. Wright found a bit of a groove in the fourth. Daulton grounded to second, Alou stuck out looking and Bonilla did the same, swinging.

The Tribe threatened to break it open in the fifth. After Wright fanned, Omar popped one over short and stole second. Fernandez struck out and Manny was passed to first. Omar stole third as well but Justice struck out looking with a full count. Johnson hit back to the box and Counsell struck out looking. Wright walked Leiter for the second time and White flied to center to end the inning.

Williams led off the sixth with a walk and Alomar followed with foul pop to first. Thome then hit into a 3-6-3 double play. Renteria lined out to deep right-center and Sheffield whiffed. Daulton would have been the third out of the game but Manny misplayed his liner into a three base error. Luckily Wright retired Alou on a fly ball to keep it 2-0.

Leiter gave way to Dennis Cook in the seventh, but he continued to confound the hitters. Grissom flew out to deep right. Wright stayed in the game and fanned looking while Omar went down swinging. The Marlins finally got on the board when Bonilla led off the bottom half with a solo shot to deep right-center on the first pitch he saw. Wright struck out Johnson on a full count but walked Counsell on four pitches. Hargrove lifted him for Paul Assenmacher who was to face pinch hitter Cliff Floyd. Leyland countered with Kurt Abbott who flew out to deep right. Assenmacher then struck out White and the Indians were just six outs away but the lead had been sliced in half and the margin for error razor thin.

Antonio Alfonseca only needed nine pitches to retire Fernandez on grounder back to him, fanning Manny looking and Justice on a grounder to first. Mike Jackson came in for his normal eighth inning work. He induced a grounder from Renteria back to himself and struck out Sheffield swinging. With Daulton due up, Brian Anderson came in. But Leyland countered again, using Jeff Conine, and he fouled out deep down the left field line. Three outs to go.

With the lead at one, the Indians went about trying to get an insurance run. Williams led off with a walk. Alfonseca got Alomar to force him at second. With Thome up, in came Felix Heredia. Thome hit one into right and Alomar moved to third. Now Leyland pulled a double switch. In came closer Robb Nen and Jim Eisenreich took over at first for Conine. Grissom hit one to Renteria, who threw out Alomar at home. Brian Giles pinch hit for Anderson and flew out to deep left-center. Not getting that run in form third with one out would prove disastrous.

As in game five, Jose Mesa came in and was not sharp. Alou singled to center to start the bottom of the ninth. Bonilla fanned with a full count. Johnson singled to right and just like that, it was first and third with one out. Gregg Zaun pinch ran for Johnson as he was the lead run. Counsell hit a 1-1 pitch deep down the right field line to knot it up. Eisenreich grounded to second, but it was a little late. And the Marlins and Indians were headed to just the third ever extra-inning game seven of a World Series.

Nen came back out for the tenth and struck out the side (Omar, Manny and Justice) with Fernandez singling to left with one out. Mesa also came out for the tenth. White bounced one of Mesa that Vizquel nipped him at first. Both Renteria and Sheffield singled and it looked like Mesa was going to give it up again. But he fanned pinch hitter John Cangelosi. With Alou due up, Hargrove called for bypassed starter Nagy. Alou flew out weakly to right and danger was averted.

Jay Powell came in and Williams drew another leadoff walk. Sandy tried to bunt him over, but Powell forced Willams at second. Then Thome hit into a 4-6-3 twin killing and any threat was dust.

Bonilla got on base to start the eleventh for Florida, via a single up the middle. Zaun failed to get a bunt down, popping to Nagy. Counsell hit a tailor made double play ball, but Tony Fernandez whiffed on it and Bonilla went to third. Eisenreich was walked to create a force at any base. It worked with White up, as Fernandez forced Bonilla at home on a grounder for out number two. But then Renteria dashed the Tribe's title hopes with a single up the middle that Nagy could not snag, scoring Counsell to win the Series.

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