Phils step up after Stewart stumbles, 6-4 Eisenreich HR caps 5-run 3rd

Series tied at 1

October 18, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jim Eisenreich retired from baseball nine years ago at the age of 25, which rates him a special place in the pantheon of unlikely World Series heroes.

Obviously, he didn't stay retired. He came back from a serious nervous disorder to rebuild his baseball career and arrive at his moment in baseball history last night. His three-run home run off Dave Stewart in a five-run third inning made the difference in a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 2 at SkyDome.

So, Stewart isn't invincible after all. He had built a reputation as the best big-game pitcher of his era, but a little bad luck and one high fastball allowed the Phillies to even the 90th World Series at a game apiece.

"I guess even a blind squirrel finds the acorn once in a while, but I'll gladly take it," said Eisenreich, who entered the game with two hits in 19

postseason at-bats.

There was more to it than that, of course. Eisenreich had excellent career numbers against Stewart, including two home runs, but he was down 0-2 on the count when he lined the ball over the center field fence for his first career homer in postseason competition.

"He just made a bad pitch and it cost him," Eisenreich said. "For some reason, I see the ball real well off him. He's always around the plate and he always gives you something to hit."

Stewart always seems to win when it counts, too, but that did not hold true last night. He hurt himself with a couple of no-out walks and got hurt by a couple of no-clout singles before Eisenreich delivered the big swing that would hold the game together until reliever Mitch Williams recorded another suspenseful save.

The victory was critical for the Phillies, who now go home for three games at Veterans Stadium, beginning with Game 3 tomorrow night. They came here hoping to get a split and they go home with a long-shot chance to win the world championship without returning to SkyDome.

"It just comes down to a best-of-five series now," said manager Jim Fregosi. "We have played well at home, just as Toronto plays well here. We got out of here with a split, which is good for us."

Left-hander Terry Mulholland pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings to record his first career postseason victory, but he wouldn't have gotten it without a lot of help. Roger Mason and Williams came on in relief and Lenny Dykstra added his seventh career postseason home run in the seventh inning just to be sure.

Nothing ever comes easy for the Phillies. The game remained in doubt right into the final inning, but what do you expect with Williams on the mound?

The Blue Jays kept scratching back. They had the tying run at the plate in the eighth, until an inexplicable base-running mistake by Roberto Alomar took them out of the inning. Alomar stole second base without a throw, but Williams caught him leaving too soon for third and threw him out to end the inning.

There was no reason to steal third base in that situation. The base didn't mean anything, but the runner did. By getting thrown out, Alomar took the Blue Jays out of an opportunity and assured that the bottom third of the Toronto batting order would hit in the ninth.

"Robbie normally doesn't do things like that," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. "Normally, you don't have to bother with ** Robbie. He's what I call a low-maintenance player."

Williams recorded his first World Series save in characteristic style. He walked the leadoff batter in the ninth before getting out of trouble with two sharp ground balls. The victory went to Mulholland, but the save also preserved Eisenreich's place in the sun.

Nearly a decade after giving up on the game because of a debilitating case of Tourette's syndrome, he turned in the best season of his career in 1993, batting .318 in his first season with the Phillies. He had two hits in his first 19 postseason at-bats, but singled in a run in the ninth inning of Game 1 and delivered the big blow last night.

His story is an inspiring one -- a long and difficult journey to achieve a lifelong dream -- but Eisenreich was hesitant to cast his performance as a story of human triumph.

"I don't look at it as a long journey," he said. "It's just the journey of life. Everybody has ups and downs. I hope I've had my downs. This is a moment that I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

Stewart had every right to curse the fates after the five-run third inning. He walked the first two batters to set himself up for the fall, but what followed was more bad luck than poor pitch selection.

John Kruk hit a pop fly to center that fell in front of Devon White for an RBI single. Dave Hollins followed with a similarly soft fly ball to center that dropped in to score a second run. Darren Daulton moved both runners up with a bouncer to first before Eisenreich jumped on an 0-2 fastball and drove it over the center-field fence.

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