On This Date in Sports October 5, 1997

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Trying to close out the Division Series in Game 4 with a five out save against the Cleveland Indians, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees suffers a rare postseason hiccup as Sandy Alomar Jr. ties the game 2-2 with a two-out home run in the eighth inning. The Tribe would go on to win the 3-2 on Omar Vizquel’s walk-off hit in the ninth. Cleveland would go on to win the series in five games, winning the finale 4-3.

In the third year of the expanded playoff format the New York Yankees, defending World Champions faced the Cleveland Indians in a battle of the last two American League pennant winners. The Indians looked to make a statement early in Game 1, as they scored five runs in the first inning in the Bronx against David Cone. The Yankees though fought back against and took the lead with five runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by three straight home runs from Tim Raines, Derek Jeter, and Paul O’Neill as Mariano Rivera slammed the door for an 8-6 win.

Two nights it was the Yankees struck first with three runs off Jaret Wright in the first inning. This time the Tribe fought back, scoring five runs against Andy Pettitte in the fourth inning as they recorded a 7-5 win to even the series, with the final three games at Jacobs Field in Cleveland.

On a rainy night in Cleveland, the Yankees led by David Wells regained control of the series with a 6-1 win, as Paul O’Neill provided the big blow with a grand slam in the fourth inning off Charles Nagy to let the air out of the balloon at Jacobs Field.

The Yankees went into Game 4 looking to close the series out with Dwight Gooden opposing Orel Hershiser. Paul O’Neil and Cecil Fielder combined to give the Yankees an early 2-0 lead with runs in the first inning, while David Justice provided the offense for Cleveland with a solo shot in the second. Gooden, along with Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton held the Tribe off the board until the eighth inning, when Joe Torre called up in his closer Mariano Rivera who had been lights out all season to finish the series with one out in the eighth inning. Rivera got Matt Williams to fly out for the second out before Sandy Alomar Jr. stepped to the plate. Falling behind 2-0, Mariano Rivera grooved one which Alomar hit into the right-field stands to tie the game 2-2. After Tony Fernandez grounded out to end the inning, the Yankees went down in order against Michael Jackson in the ninth inning. In the ninth inning, Ramiro Mendoza came on to pitch for New York, allowing a leadoff single to Marquis Grissom. After a sac bunt by Bip Roberts, Omar Vizquel singled up the middle to score Grissom with the winning run to even the series with a 3-2 win.

In Game 5, Andy Pettitte struggled again allowing three runs in the third inning, as the Tribe built an early 4-0 lead with Jaret Wright on the mound. The Yankees would not go down without a fight, scoring a pair of runs in fifth and one in the sixth to cut the deficit to one run. However, they would not get closer, as the Tribe pitched around trouble in the final three innings. With Jose Mesa on the mound to wrap up the series, Paul O’Neil kept the Yankees flickering hopes alive with a two-out double. The next batter Bernie Williams than just missed and hit a fly ball to left center, that was caught by Brian Giles on the edge of the warning track to end the series, with the Indians advancing to the ALCS with a 4-3 win, as Wight earned his second win of the series.

The Cleveland Indians would advance to the World Series for the second time in three years, beating the Baltimore Orioles in six games. In the Fall Classic, the Tribe would lose a heartbreaker to the Florida Marlins in seven games, as Jose Mesa failed to close Game 7, with Marlins winning 3-2 in 11 innings. The New York Yankees would retool over the winter and become a dynasty winning the next three World Series, and four American League pennants, as Mariano Rivera became the most dominant closer in the history of baseball.