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Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Chad Ojea, left, hands the baseball to manager Mike Hargrove as he is replaced in the second inning against the New York Yankees during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 11, 1998, at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

New York state of bind

Monday, October 12, 1998

By PAUL HOYNES
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

Baseball's long road might have finally run out of blacktop for a contrary Indians team that a room full of psychologists couldn't figure out.

The end could come tomorrow night in the unfriendly confines of Yankee Stadium following the Tribe's 5-3 loss to New York yesterday in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. If this is the end, it has been a long time coming.

The Indians have played 200 games this year starting with a Feb. 27 exhibition against Pittsburgh. They won the American League Central for the fourth consecutive year with an uninspiring 89 victories. They upset Boston in the division series and held a 2-1 lead over the powerful Yankees before losing Games 4 and 5 in Jacobs Field to put them one loss away from elimination.

What choices does that leave them?

"It means that after all this time," said third baseman Travis Fryman, "we're finally going to play a must game. The Cleveland Indians must win Tuesday night."

And if they do, if Charles Nagy beats David Cone in Game 6, then they must do it all over again on Wednesday in Game 7 to reach the World Series for the second straight year.

"We've got to win," said Kenny Lofton. "No other assessment has to be made."

This is what the Indians have done to themselves in the best-of-seven ALCS by losing yesterday and Saturday. Many will point to New York's 4-0 victory in Game 4 behind the pitching of Orlando Hernandez as the turning point of this series. It pulled the Yankees into a 2-2 tie and gave them time to exhale.

But Game 5 played a large role as well.

Look what manager Mike Hargrove brought into the game. He had rookies Richie Sexson, Einar Diaz and Enrique Wilson as the last three hitters in his lineup. Sandy Alomar Jr. and David Justice, two of his playoff-tested veterans, couldn't start because of injuries. Alomar was out with a sore back. Justice, who pinch hit in the ninth, had a bruised right forearm.

Chad Ogea, the Tribe's starting pitcher, didn't even make the division series roster. Yes, he won two games in the World Series last year, but this year has been far different. He made three trips to the disabled list and wouldn't have even been considered for the start if Jaret Wright hadn't pitched so poorly in Games 1 of the ALCS and division series.

Then just to make things more interesting, a small portion of the 44,966 fans who might have watched the last game in Jacobs Field this year went and upset left-hander David Wells. Talk about a bad idea.

Ogea, who had allowed three runs in 10 innings in two previous postseason appearances against New York, didn't make it out of the second. He gave up four runs on four hits in 1 innings.

He opened the first by hitting Chuck Knoblauch with an 0-2 pitch. Derek Jeter struck out, but the game skidded away from Ogea on a potential double-play bouncer by Paul O'Neill. Ogea stretched for the ball, but it glanced off his glove and went into left field for a single as Knoblauch went to third.

"That ball changed the complexion of the game," said Ogea. "I can't second-guess myself, but at that moment I wished I had shorter arms."

Ogea never regained his focus.

Bernie Williams walked and Chili Davis hit a two-run single off Sexson's glove at first for a 2-0 lead. Ogea hit Tino Martinez with a pitch to load the bases and Tim Raines made it 3-0 with a grounder to second.

The Indians made it 3-2 in the bottom of the first against an obviously distracted Wells. Lofton hit a leadoff homer just inside the right-field foul pole for his third homer of the postseason.

Omar Vizquel and Fryman followed with singles to put runners on first and second. After Vizquel stole third, Manny Ramirez scored him with a sacrifice fly. Fryman followed with a another steal of third, but the Indians couldn't get him home. Wells sruck out Mark Whiten, walked Jim Thome and struck out Sexson, who's 0-for-6 in the postseason.

The Indians have been outscored in the first inning, 15-3, in nine postseason games this year.

Wells said his concentration was jolted by what some fans yelled at him while he was warming up in the bullpen.

"You got a bunch of clowns out there talking about my mother," said Wells, "and not knowing that she'd passed away about a year and a half ago. It really bothered me. What got me more, was that some little kids out there started doing the same thing."

Wells didn't stay distracted long. He pitched 7 innings to improve his postseason record to 7-1 with a 2.41 earned run average.

He's 4-0 with a 3.05 ERA against the Indians in the postseason and 13-3 against them overall.

"To those idiots out there," said Wells, "this one is for you."

Still, this was a game in which the Indians had several chances against Wells. But the Yankees were always able to stay a couple of runs ahead of them.

O'Neill singled home Knoblauch for a 4-2 lead in the second. Ogea started the inning by walking Knoblauch, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt.

"That was a really big run for us," said manager Joe Torre. "When we've gotten a lead in the postseason, we haven't been able to add on to it."

The Yankees are hitting .198 in this series, the Indians .218.

Wright relieved Ogea after Williams singled to move O'Neill to third. On his first pitch, Davis hit into a 6-4-3 double play as Vizquel barehanded his bouncer to start the play.

The Yankees made it 5-2 in the fourth with a homer by Davis, who drove in three runs. It was the only run Wright allowed in six innings in the first relief appearance of his career.

"Jaret pitched well," said Hargrove. "But his first two starts in the postseason were not what we expected. Consequently we went with the more experienced pitcher in Chad Ogea."

The Indians made it 5-3 in the fifth when Thome hit a towering homer over the right-field foul pole. It was his third homer of the ALCS and his fifth of this postseason. Wells was so impressed that he told his teammates "Wow, now that's a tater," when he got back to the Yankee dugout.

The homer was measured at 439 feet. It was his 11th homer in the postseason, tying him for sixth place on the all-time list.

The Tribe's last real scoring chance came in the eighth. After Wells struck out Vizquel to start the inning, Jeff Nelson relieved and hit Fryman with a pitch. Ramirez followed with a single to left and Torre brought in Mariano Rivera to face Whiten. He grounded into a double play to end the inning.

"I really wanted to get up in that situation," said Thome, who was on deck, "but that's the way things go. Now we've got to go to New York and win two games. It's not going to be easy, but we've been in situations like this before."

Rivera pitched the ninth for his first save of the ALCS.

©1998 THE PLAIN DEALER. Used with permission.

BOX SCORE -    10/11/98


NY YANKEES (5) AT CLEVELAND (3) - FINAL 

NY YANKEES             ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Knoblauch 2b            1  2  0  0   3  0   0  .129
Jeter ss                4  0  0  0   0  2   4  .138
Oneill rf               4  1  2  1   1  0   2  .323
Williams cf             4  1  1  0   1  1   1  .179
Davis dh                5  1  2  3   0  1   2  .294
Martinez 1b             1  0  0  0   3  0   0  .148
Raines lf               4  0  0  1   0  1   2  .143
 Curtis lf              1  0  0  0   0  1   1  .286
Posada c                1  0  0  0   3  0   1  .154
Brosius 3b              3  0  1  0   0  1   3  .333

Totals                 28  5  6  5  11  7  16

BATTING: HR - Davis (1, 4th inning off Wright 0 on, 2 out). S - Jeter, 
Brosius. RBI - Davis 3 (4), Raines (1), Oneill (4). 2-out RBI - Davis. 
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - Brosius 2, Jeter 2, Oneill 2. 
GIDP - Davis, Raines. Team LOB - 11.

BASERUNNING: SB - Oneill (2, 2nd base off Ogea/Diaz). 
CS - Posada (1, 2nd base by Wright/Diaz). 

FIELDING: DP: 2 (Jeter-Knoblauch-Martinez, Knoblauch-Jeter-Martinez). 

CLEVELAND              ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Lofton cf               4  1  1  1   0  1   1  .231
Vizquel ss              3  1  2  0   0  1   0  .314
Fryman 3b               3  0  1  0   0  1   3  .188
Ramirez rf              3  0  1  1   0  2   1  .344
Whiten lf               4  0  0  0   0  3   3  .286
Thome dh                3  1  2  1   1  0   0  .206
Sexson 1b               3  0  0  0   0  1   3  .000
 a-Giles ph             1  0  0  0   0  0   0  .111
Diaz c                  3  0  0  0   0  1   0  .000
 b-Justice ph           0  0  0  0   1  0   0  .250
Wilson 2b               4  0  1  0   0  2   1  .167

Totals                 31  3  8  3   2 12  12

a-grounded to second for Sexson in the 9th; b-walked for Diaz in
the 9th.

BATTING: HR - Lofton (3, 1st inning off Wells 0 on, 0 out);
Thome (5, 6th inning off Wells 0 on, 2 out). SF - Ramirez. RBI -
Lofton (7), Ramirez (7), Thome (6). 2-out RBI - Thome. Runners
left in scoring position, 2 out - Sexson 1, Fryman 1. GIDP - Sexson, 
Whiten. Team LOB - 6.

BASERUNNING: SB - Vizquel (4, 3rd base off Wells/Posada); Fryman
(2, 3rd base off Wells/Posada). CS - Vizquel (1, 2nd base by Wells). 

FIELDING: DP: 2 (Vizquel-Wilson-Sexson, Sexson-Vizquel-Sexson). 

--------------------------------------------------
    Ny Yankees     - 310 100 000  --  5
    Cleveland      - 200 001 000  --  3

--------------------------------------------------

NY YANKEES                   ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Wells (W, 3-0)                7 1/3   7   3   3   1  11   2   1.90
Nelson (H, 2)                 0       1   0   0   0   0   0   6.75
Rivera (S, 3)                 1 2/3   0   0   0   1   1   0   0.00

CLEVELAND                    ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Ogea (L, 0-1)                 1 1/3   4   4   4   3   2   0   8.10
Wright                        6       2   1   1   7   3   1   9.82
Reed                            1/3   0   0   0   0   0   0  11.57
Assenmacher                     1/3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0.00
Shuey                         1       0   0   0   1   2   0   0.00

Nelson pitched to 2 batters in the 8th.

WP - Wells. HBP - Knoblauch (by Ogea); Martinez (by Ogea);
Vizquel (by Wells); Fryman (by Nelson).  Pitches-strikes: Ogea
47-25; Wright 100-52; Reed 2-2; Assenmacher 1-1; Shuey 15-9;
Wells 104-73; Nelson 6-1; Rivera 21-12.  Ground balls-fly balls:
Ogea 2-0; Wright 12-2; Reed 1-0; Assenmacher 1-0; Shuey 1-0;
Wells 5-5; Nelson 0-0; Rivera 3-1.  Batters faced: Ogea 13;
Wright 24; Reed 1; Assenmacher 1; Shuey 4; Wells 29; Nelson 2;
Rivera 5. 

UMPIRES: HP--Tim Welke. 1B--Jim Mckean. 2B--Jim Evans. 3B--Ted
Hendry. LF--John Shulock. RF--Larry Young.
T--3:33.  Att--44,966.   Weather: 61 degrees, sunny.   Wind: 7 mph, 
in from left.