And now, 'Fish' get chance to take dip in twilight zone

October 20, 1997|By John Eisenberg

MIAMI -- Seen this act before?

Sure, you have, as much as you would rather forget.

The characters and plots were different, but the end results were exactly the same.

The end results were the Indians finding life in a series after looking dead in Game 1.

You bet you have seen this act before.

In the American League Championship Series, it was Marquis Grissom turning Armando Benitez's hanging slider into a three-run homer.

In the Division Series, it was a rookie pitcher named Jaret Wright shutting down the Yankees in the Bronx.

Last night, it was Chad Ogea beating Marlins ace Kevin Brown at Pro Player Stadium.

The end result, all three times, was a Game 2 victory for the Indians after a bad loss in Game 1.

And you know what happened to the Orioles and Yankees after they lost Game 2.

Cue the "Jaws" theme for the team nicknamed the Fish.

The Marlins had better get ready for weird and unexplainably bad stuff to start happening.

If the pattern holds, the next Lenny Webster is already in their midst, an otherwise capable player on the verge of committing unthinkable largess.

If the pattern holds, the Indians will soon begin benefiting from another round of game-winning failed bunts, two-run passed balls, countless opposing runners left on base and other acts of the baseball occult that have blessed the Indians this October.

Actually, weird stuff already is happening as the World Series shifts to Cleveland for three games after the Indians' 6-1 victory in Game 2 last night.

Ohio weather forecasters are calling for numbing cold all week and snow for Game 4 on Wednesday.

Browns weather, in other words.

Not exactly classic Team Teal conditions.

The good news is that the Marlins won't have to pack their little shorts and T-shirts that they wore for batting practice before the first two games.

The bad news is that they have to go to Cleveland to try to save the World Series in arctic conditions.

Have fun!

"I don't know if fish can swim in snow," Indians reliever pitcher Mike Jackson said last night.

He insisted that the Indians would have the advantage because they're accustomed to cold weather.

"We played in it all year," he said. "It was still freezing in June. That should help us."

Probably not, actually -- all clubs, Marlins included, played a lot of cold-weather baseball this season.

Marlins manager Jim Leyland dismissed the idea.

"It's going to be cold, but in the situation we're in and what the stakes are, the heart stays warm," he said. "The feet get cold, the hands stay warm and hopefully the heart stay warm."

It's the Marlins' heart, not their feet and hands, that will be tested if the Indians use their latest Game 2 win as a starting point for another comeback.

The Yankees felt great after hitting back-to-back-to-back homers beat the Indians in Game 1, and look what happened.

The Orioles thought they were on their way to the Series after winning Game 1 and taking a 4-2 lead into the eighth inning in Game 2, and look what happened.

The Indians pulled their usual Game 1 routine against the Marlins on Saturday night, going down so easily that South Florida seemingly started to celebrate with a one-game lead and Brown on the mound for Game 2.

One local columnist even suggested that the Marlins were destined to win in six games and maybe five.

They hadn't paid attention to the American League playoffs, obviously.

They didn't know that a depressing Game 1 loss was the first part of the Indians' plan.

They didn't consult Benitez, who is still trying to uncross his eyes from the devastating effects of Grissom's Game 2, ALCS homer.

That series turned on that one swing, and the Marlins can only hope this series doesn't follow the same course.

The Indians didn't need late-inning dramatics last night with Brown struggling from the beginning.

"He threw some nice sliders and some that weren't so nice," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "It was obvious that he wasn't at his best."

It was obvious early, as a matter of fact, when Omar Vizquel nailed Brown's fifth pitch for a line-drive double, giving Vizquel his first extra-base hit in 48 October at-bats this year. He came around to score on a single by David Justice.

Brown settled down after that, but the Indians broke things open with three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth, with the last two coming on a long home run by Sandy Alomar -- him again.

Meanwhile, the four Marlins who hit doubles all were stranded on base.

Ogea, who was pitching for Triple-A Buffalo in August, was the winning pitcher.

He also laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to set up the three-run rally in the fifth.

Starting to see that familiar pattern forming again?

A pitcher up from Buffalo, a miracle bunt, snow in the forecast, poor clutch hitting from the other team -- it's all part of the &L strange brew of events that keeps pushing the Indians forward, pushing them to places few thought they could reach when the playoffs began.

The Marlins will need a lot more than just parkas to beat them.

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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