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Travis Fryman beats the throw to first base as Chuck Knoblauch covers on the play in the 12 inning. Yankees firstbaseman Tino Martinez fielded Fryman's bunt, but his relay to first hit Fryman in the back. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)


Enrique Wilson tumbles over homeplate to score the game-winning run in the 12th inning. Wilson scored from first base on teammate Travis Fryman's bunt. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

The thrill of the bunt

Thursday, October 08, 1998

By PAUL HOYNES
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

NEW YORK - A funny thing happened to the Yankees last night on the way to baseball immortality. The greatest team to walk the earth lost a game.

Now New York is really in trouble. The Indians didn't want to do it, but they had little choice. Faced with the prospect of playing a team in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series that by all accounts has no flaws, the Indians went to their bunt offense.

Travis Fryman's bunt single in the 12th inning sent rookie Enrique Wilson on a wild sprint around the bases to score the winning run in the Tribe's 4-1 victory over New York in Game 2 of the ALCS. The series stands at 1-1 with Bartolo Colon scheduled to face Andy Pettitte in Game 3 tomorrow night in Jacobs Field.

How serious is the Tribe's bunt game?

Just ask Baltimore. The Orioles, like this year's Yankees, were heavily favored in last year's ALCS. But with the series tied, 1-1, Omar Vizquel botched a squeeze bunt. Orioles catcher Lenny Webster thought Vizquel had fouled the ball off and didn't pursue it. That was the only opening Marquis Grissom needed as he rushed home from third to give the Tribe a 2-1 victory in 12 innings.

The Indians went on to win the ALCS and advance to the World Series.

Who knows what awaits them this year.

"We should bunt a lot more than we do," said Vizquel with a smile. "Look at the things that happen."

With the score tied, 1-1, Jim Thome started the 12th with a single to left off Jeff Nelson. The 11 previous Indians had gone down in order. Manager Mike Hargrove immediately inserted Wilson as a pinch runner and called for Fryman to move him to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Fryman sent a perfect bunt down the first-base line. First baseman Tino Martinez rushed in to field the ball. He turned to throw to Chuck Knoblauch, who had slid over from second to cover the bag. But Martinez's throw hit Fryman in the back.

The ball bounced off Fryman and rolled away from the bag. Knoblauch, blowing bubble-gum bubbles as he stood on first, didn't pursue the ball. Instead he argued with plate umpire Ted Hendry that Fryman had interfered with Martinez's throw.

And all the while the ball was rolling free.

Third-base coach Jeff Newman needed no further invitation.

"Enrique was running hard toward me," said Newman, "and I just kept waving him around the bag. It was a gamble on my part because there were no outs. But I thought I minimized it when I saw Knoblauch pointing and arguing with the umpires and not going after the ball."

The one thing he couldn't calculate was Wilson's legs turning to spaghetti on the wet infield grass.

"When I saw Enrique go by me," said Newman, "I felt real good. I said, "He's got a great chance to score.' Then I picked him up again and all I saw was elbow and knees."

Knoblauch had retrieved the ball by this time, but Wilson skidded into home just ahead of his throw for a 2-1 lead. He looked like one of those old World War II gut-shot fighter planes cartwheeling into the Pacific.

"As soon as we saw that no one was going after the ball," said David Justice, "everybody in the dugout became a third-base coach. We were all waving Enrique home."

Manager Joe Torre, whose Yankees had an 11-game winning streak broken - four in the postseason and the last seven of the regular season - said Fryman clearly interfered with the throw. Hendry, though, would not reverse his decision.

"It was a terrible call," said Torre. "It was blatant."

Fryman, like Wilson, never stopped running. He ended up on third as Wilson belly-flopped home.

"My first thought was that I got the bunt down," said Fryman. "When I got by Tino, I told myself, "Dang, I got this thing beat.' Then I felt the ball hit me and roll about 30 feet toward second. I saw Enrique running and I figured I'd run, too."

Fryman said he didn't think he interfered with Martinez's throw.

"If I had been hit with the throw five feet away from the bag, I probably would have been called out," said Fryman. "But I was right at the bag when the ball hit me."

Crew chief Jim Evans, working third base, said: "You can run around the pitcher's mound on your way to first base. If the runner interfered with a legitimate throw, he'd be out. But this play occurred right at the bag. Fryman had a right to be in that position."

The Tribe's offense, held to four runs in the previous 18 postseason innings, didn't rush to take advantage of the break. Brian Giles took a called third strike in the opinion of Hendry, whose strike zone could only be called inconsistent.

"But at least he stunk for both sides," said Torre.

Nelson hit Sandy Alomar Jr. with a pitch and walked Joey Cora to load the bases. Lefty Graeme Lloyd relieved to face Kenny Lofton, hitless in his first nine at-bats in the ALCS. Lofton lined a two-strike single to left-center to score Fryman and Alomar for a 4-1 lead.

Mike Jackson pitched the 12th for the save to end a strong performance by Tribe pitches.

Charles Nagy held the Yankees to one run on five hits in 6 innings. The Yankees' only run came in the seventh when Scott Brosius doubled home Bernie Williams with two outs. Steve Reed relieved and retired Jorge Posada with runners on second and third to end the inning. He was the first of six Tribe relievers who combined to hold the Yankees scoreless for 5 innings.

The victory went to Dave Burba, who registered one out in the 11th.

©1998 THE PLAIN DEALER. Used with permission.

BOX SCORE -    10/7/98


CLEVELAND (4) AT NY YANKEES (1) PLAYOFFS - FINAL IN 12 INNINGS 

CLEVELAND              ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Lofton cf               6  0  1  2   0  0   0  .269
Vizquel ss              6  0  1  0   0  1   1  .125
Justice dh              4  1  2  1   1  0   1  .333
Ramirez rf              4  0  0  0   1  1   3  .318
Thome 1b                5  0  1  0   0  3   1  .130
 Wilson pr-2b           0  1  0  0   0  0   0  .000
Fryman 3b               4  1  1  0   0  1   1  .143
Giles lf                4  0  0  0   1  3   1  .143
Alomar c                4  1  1  0   0  0   3  .200
Cora 2b                 4  0  0  0   1  0   1  .059
 Sexson 1b              0  0  0  0   0  0   0  .000

Totals                 41  4  7  3   4  9  12

BATTING: 3B - Vizquel (1, Cone). HR - Justice (2, 4th inning off
Cone 0 on, 1 out). S - Fryman. RBI - Justice (7), Lofton 2 (6).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - Alomar 2, Ramirez 1,
Vizquel 1. GIDP - Ramirez. Team LOB - 7.

FIELDING: E - Fryman (1, line drive). DP: 1 (Cora-Vizquel-Thome). 

NY YANKEES             ab  r  h rbi bb so lob   avg
Knoblauch 2b            6  0  0  0   0  0   0  .091
Jeter ss                5  0  1  0   1  1   1  .222
Oneill rf               5  0  1  0   0  0   2  .333
Williams cf             4  1  1  0   1  2   1  .158
Martinez 1b             4  0  0  0   1  2   3  .150
Raines dh               4  0  1  0   0  3   3  .200
 Bush pr-dh             0  0  0  0   0  0   0  .000
 b-Davis ph-dh          1  0  1  0   0  0   0  .286
 Ledee pr-dh            0  0  0  0   0  0   0  .000
Spencer lf              5  0  1  0   0  1   3  .308
Brosius 3b              4  0  1  1   1  2   1  .389
Girardi c               3  0  0  0   0  0   2  .300
 a-Posada ph-c          2  0  0  0   0  0   2  .286

Totals                 43  1  7  1   4 11  18

a-grounded to shortstop for Girardi in the 9th; b-singled for Bush 
in the 11th.

BATTING: 2B - Jeter (1, Nagy); Oneill (4, Nagy); Brosius (1, Nagy). 
RBI - Brosius (5). 2-out RBI - Brosius. Runners left in scoring 
position, 2 out - Williams 1, Raines 1, Girardi 2, Martinez 1. 
GIDP - Posada. Team LOB - 10.

BASERUNNING: SB - Jeter (2, 2nd base off Shuey/Alomar); 
Bush (2, 2nd base off Shuey/Alomar). 

FIELDING: E - Martinez (1, throw). Outfield assists - Spencer
(Lofton at 2nd base). DP: 1 (Jeter-Knoblauch-Martinez). 

--------------------------------------------------
    Cleveland      - 000 100 000 003  --  4
    Ny Yankees     - 000 000 100 000  --  1

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

CLEVELAND                    ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Nagy                          6 2/3   5   1   1   1   5   0   1.23
Reed                            2/3   0   0   0   1   0   0  13.50
Poole                           1/3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0.00
Shuey                         2       1   0   0   2   2   0   0.00
Assenmacher                   1       0   0   0   0   2   0   0.00
Burba (W, 2-0)                  1/3   1   0   0   0   0   0   4.76
Jackson (S, 4)                1       0   0   0   0   2   0   3.60

NY YANKEES                   ip       h   r  er  bb  so  hr    era
Cone                          8       5   1   1   3   5   1   0.66
Rivera                        2       0   0   0   0   2   0   0.00
Stanton                         2/3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0.00
Nelson (L, 0-1)                 2/3   1   3   2   1   2   0   4.50
Lloyd                           2/3   1   0   0   0   0   0   0.00

IBB - Brosius (by Shuey). HBP - Alomar (by Nelson). 
Pitches-strikes: Cone 117-72; Rivera 32-25; Stanton 18-13;
Nelson 22-11; Lloyd 8-6; Nagy 85-54; Reed 13-8; Poole 5-3; Shuey
36-19; Assenmacher 15-8; Burba 7-3; Jackson 20-13.  Ground balls-
fly balls: Cone 8-11; Rivera 1-3; Stanton 1-1; Nelson 0-0; Lloyd 
1-0; Nagy 8-7; Reed 2-0; Poole 0-1; Shuey 3-1; Assenmacher 0-1; 
Burba 0-1; Jackson 1-0.  Batters faced: Cone 31; Rivera 6; Stanton 2; 
Nelson 6; Lloyd 2; Nagy 26; Reed 3; Poole 1; Shuey 8; Assenmacher 3; 
Burba 2; Jackson 4. 

UMPIRES: HP--Ted Hendry. 1B--John Shulock. 2B--Larry Young.
3B--Tim Welke. LF--Jim Mckean. RF--Jim Evans.
T--4:28.  Att--57,128.   Weather: 60 degrees, overcast.   Wind: 5 mph, 
left to right.