Splitting town: Indians tie series Late home run yielded by Benitez defeats Orioles

Game 2 Indians 5, Orioles 4

October 10, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

The Orioles were halfway to heaven, or so they thought. They were just four outs away from a quick two-game lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series when the Cleveland Indians offered a not-so-subtle reminder that it's never over until it's over.

Center fielder Marquis Grissom launched a three-run home run to the deepest part of Camden Yards to shock the usually dependable Orioles bullpen and quiet the sellout crowd of 49,131. The Indians held on to score a 5-4 victory in Game 2 and headed home on the upbeat side of a much-needed split in Baltimore.

That kind of thing doesn't happen very often around here. The Orioles reached the playoffs largely on the strength of their six-man bullpen and had lost only four games during the regular season that they led after seven innings. But setup man Armando Benitez served up the dramatic home run, and the chemistry of the series changed as the ball sailed over the center-field fence.

To that point, it was looking like another perfect evening at Oriole Park. Left-hander Jimmy Key struggled in the early innings, but right-hander Scott Kamieniecki bailed him out in the fifth and pitched three hitless innings before turning the game over to the all-but-unbeatable short relief staff.

Of course, nobody's perfect, and Benitez was shaky in the eighth. He struck out two batters and walked two others -- including pinch hitter Jim Thome on a disputed check swing -- to bring Grissom to the plate representing the go-ahead run. Moments later, he punctured the feel-good atmosphere at Camden Yards with his first home run of the postseason.

Cal Ripken had brought the Orioles from behind with a two-run home run in the second inning, and Mike Bordick put them ahead with a two-out single in the sixth inning.

Pub Date: 10/10/97

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