The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 6, 1996 · Page 35
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 35

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Sunday, October 6, 1996
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Page 35
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THE SALINA JOURNAL BASEBALL PLAYOFFS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1996 OS O's end Cleveland's title hopes Many wondering how the Indians could be ousted in first round By KEN BERGER The Associated Press , CLEVELAND — How could this happen? the Cleveland Indians, who went to the 1995 World Series and led the majors with 99 wins this yedr, were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round with a 43 loss in 12 innings to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. The performance wasn't quite like the heart-breaking football team that used to play across town (three and out). But Cleveland hardly looked like the carefully assembled champion they were thCiUght to be. •', Turns out Albert Belle's tie- breaking grand slam on Friday night — a great October baseball moment — will be but a footnote to this season. .Cleveland won the AL Central By-14% games after taking it by a major league record 30 games last season. But they lost 3-1 in the best-of-five divisional series by Baltimore, a team that won 11 fewer games than Cleveland during the regular season. . There will be criticism of baseball's new playoff system, which forced the team with the best The Associated Press Roberto Alomar (right) is greeted at home plate by teammate Rafael Palmeiro after hitting his game-winning home run in the 12th inning to give Baltimore a 4-3 victory over Cleveland on Saturday. record in baseball to play its first two playoff games on the road. Some will say that Roberto Alomar, who drove in the tying'run with a single and the winning run with a homer, should not have been playing because he spat in the face of an umpire in the last week of the regular season. The talk radio hounds are probably already licking their chops, ready to renew the criticism of general manager John Hart, who traded Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray. The Murray trade is especially galling because the future Hall of Famer gets to keep going in the playoffs with the Orioles. Before this Baltimore victory is given majestic upset status, let's remember that the 1996 Indians were nothing like the juggernaut that went 100-44 in '95. Cleveland struggled through an 18-21 slide from May to July, watched Baerga's skills deteriorate and then watched him get traded to the New York Mets. While Belle slumped during several controversies, the Indians' record suffered, too. While Cleveland was relatively healthy last season, this year there were key injuries. Mark Carreon was in the Florida Instructional League rehabilitating a bruised shin instead of in uniform for this series. Free-agent signee Jack McDowell was hampered by a stint on the disabled list, and first baseman Julio Franco missed almost two months with a pulled hamstring. Dennis Martinez, who beat the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS last year to send Cleveland to its first World Series in 41 years, was lost for the season with a strained elbow. Sometimes in baseball, things just don't work out as planned. Look at the Atlanta Braves, who beat Cleveland in the World Series last year. Atlanta lost the Series in 1991 and '92, then got knocked out in the NL playoffs by the Philadelphia Phillies in '93. The Braves won 104 games that year to the Phillies' 97 wins. Yankees exploit Rangers' weaknesses Hirschbeck forgives Alomar for incident By The Associated Press NEW YORK — Umpire John Hirschbeck forgave Roberto Alomar on Saturday, saying baseball needed to get beyond the problems stemming from last week's spitting incident. "I wish to state publicly that I forgive Roberto Alomar for his actions," Hirschbeck said in a statement released from his home in Poland, Ohio. "I am sure that he wishes as much as I do that this incident had never occurred." "Denise (Hirschbeck's wife) and I speak today with the hope of putting the events of this past week to rest, and to begin the process of healing and restoration. It is time to bring closure to this matter," he said. Alomar, who issued a written apology last week, was glad to hear Hirschbeck had forgiven him. "I hope this puts everything behind us. I hope that I can meet with him and his family to tell him how sorry I was that this ALOMAR happened," Alomar said in the Baltimore clubhouse after the Orioles' 4-3 victory in 12 innings for a three games-to-one win over Cleveland in the AL playoffs. "Hopefully, we can move on with our lives. I respect him as a person, I respect his family and wife," Alomar said. "We both regret doing it," he said. "I apologized to him, and I'm happy that he and his family accepted my apology. Now we can both move on with our lives and be friends, like we were before." Alomar capped a controversial week with two big hits Saturday. He tied the game with an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning, then hit a home run in the 12th that won it. A week ago Friday in Toronto, Alomar spat in the face of Hirschbeck after being called out on a third strike. Later that night, Alomar said Hirschbeck had become "bitter" in recent years because of the death of his 7-year-old son to a rare brain disease. The next day, Alomar was suspended for five games by AL president Gene Budig, and the Orioles All-Star second baseman appealed the penalty. Texas unable to overcome bad bullpen, lack of clutch hitting By JAIME ARON The Associated Press DARLINGTON, Texas — The -Texas Rangers survived a shaky tyxllpen and a lack of clutch hitting "fq make the postseason for the first •tiftie in franchise history. y.vThey could not, however, hide tfiose weaknesses in the playoffs. • •'"•New York victimized Texas re- '.lievers for a 6-4 victory Saturday — l!$eir third'straight comeback win ^ while the Yankees' bullpen continued to shut down Rangers hit- •ters, Jordan's heroics lift Cards By The Associated Press ' SAN DIEGO — Brian Jordan's ;bat and glove made sure there •would be no repeat of San Diego's ! stirring playoff rally of 12 years :ago. Jordan hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and made a diving catch of Jody Reed's line drive in the eighth as the Cardinals completed the three-game sweep df their NL divisional series with a 7-5 victory Saturday night over the Padres. Jordan, a former NFL defensive back, made a diving catch of R'fied's slicing liner to right field with a runner on second, ending the eighth and keeping the score tied at 5. ' "The ball gets by, it's a different game," Jordan said. "One thing I want to do in my career is win a ;Gold Glove. I really work hard in ;the field and the game was on the 'line, so I put my body on the line and thank goodness I caught it." ; Ken Caminiti hit two home runs for the Padres, including a solo shot that tied the game in the eighth. Padres relief ace Trevor Hoffman took over to start the ninth and walked Ron Gant with one .out Jordan then drove a full- count pitch into one of the palm trees beyond the left-field fence, 'with Rickey Henderson making a ifutile jump at the ball. :« Jordan said he was looking for a fastball from Hoffman, who instead threw a slider. : "I kept my hands back good and •hit it pretty good," Jordan said. i?<When I hit that, I knew we had : : Eclt (reliever Dennis Eckersley) in ithe bullpen to close it out." !2 The NL Central champion Car- finals, in the playoffs for the first •time in nine seasons, will face the Defending World Series champion •Atlanta Braves in the NL champi- ionship series starting Wednesday 'night at Atlanta. The Braves went ;9-4 against St. Louis this season. 1 The teams also met in the 1982 : NL championship series. As a result, New York won the series 3-1 to advance to the American League championship series beginning Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Rangers starters did a decent job of slowing down Yankees hitters while Texas' offense was able to consistently build leads off New York's starters. But the Rangers' bullpen wound up blowing leads of 4-0 on Saturday, 2-1 on Friday and 4-1 on Wednesday. In Saturday's fiasco, manager Johnny Gates used eight different pitchers and still couldn't find someone to stop the Yankees. "Sometimes you come in and you get the job done and sometimes you don't," Mike Stanton said. "Today, the bullpen didn't get the job done." RAIPH WEIGH Bonds - Insurance Phone 827*2906 The offense never made things easier as the Rangers didn't score a run after the fifth inning in any of those games. "We had leads in every game," Will Clark said. "Not only could we not hold them, we couldn't put them away. ... It's a failure-oriented game." Texas set all sorts of club hitting records this season, then batted only .218 against New York. The only reliable bat belonged to Juan Gonzalez. He hit .438 with five of the Rangers' six home runs and nine of the team's 16 RBI. Otherwise, only Ivan Rodriguez (.375) and Kevin Elster (.333) hit above .211. "We really couldn't put a lot together," said Dean Palmer, who struck out to end the game. "Juan was the only consistent guy." "We didn't help him out at all," said leadoff hitter Darryl Hamilton, who hit just .158. "We had our chances but we couldn't get the big hit. We know we're better than we were this series." The October flameout was a continuation of a September swoon that almost cost Texas its first AL West title. The Rangers went 13-14 in September and saw a division lead that peaked at nine games be narrowed to one. "Every team goes through a slump," Mark McLemore said. "Unfortunately, ours happened to be the last two or three weeks of the season and the first week of the postseason." 2-3 TIMES DAILY! 825-6000 cmogoru GOOD brought to you bu fKSAL?) \^ NCTrfMbllSO^/ SALINA BASEBALL ENTERPRISES We are now accepting applications for the positions of Head Coach of the Salina American Legion baseball teams. The positions available are the Falcons and Eagles. Send resumes to P.O. Box 1244, Salina, KS 67401. Hitting slump zapped Dodgers By TOM SALADINO The Associated Press ATLANTA — It was three and out again for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their bats fell silent more than a week ago and never awoke against Atlanta's starting trio of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. For the second consecutive season the Dodgers failed to win a game in the postseason, losing the best-of-5 series to the Braves, who advanced to the NLCS with a 5-2 victory over the listless Dodgers on Saturday. Last year, it was the Cincinnati Reds who ended the Dodgers' season before they too ran into the Braves. Atlanta swept the Reds in four games before going on to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. The Dodgers managed only five hits and one run off Glavine on Saturday in 6 2-3 innings and got another hit and run off re- liever Greg McMichael. Los Angeles managed just 14 hits and five runs — two unearned — in the three games. As a team, the Dodgers hit .147. The Dodgers' 3-4-5 hitters — Mike Piazza, Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi — hit a combined 4-for-30. ' Piazza, who hit .336 with 36 homers and 105 RBIs during the regular season, was 2-for-10 with a pair of RBIs. Karros was O-for-9 after hitting .260 with 34 homers and 111 RBIs during the season, and Mondesi, a .297 hitter with 24 homers and 88 RBIs, went 2- for-11 with an RBI. "Our pitchers did a good job for us. We just didn't hit enough," Mondesi said. Los Angeles wound up losing its last seven games, including four straight down the stretch run of the regular season. Needing just one victory to clinch the NL West title, the Dodgers lost to San Francisco and then dropped three straight at home to San Diego, handing the Padres the division title. The Dodgers scored only five runs in the four games. "When you face that staff and you're not swinging the bat well, that's what's going to happen," said Dodgers third baseman Tim Wallach. "You don't see too many mistakes from that staff. When you get one, you've got to take advantage. We didn't." Smoltz had allowed only four hits in nine innings in Atlanta's 2-1, 10-inning win in Game 1 and Greg Maddux scattered three hits in seven innings in the Braves' 3-2 victory in Game 2. Mark Wohlers picked up saves in each of the three games, giving up a harmless single in 3 1-3 innings. 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