Baseball moguls, instead of working to heal the wounds left by the strike, immediately opened new ones when their ill-conceived postseason playoff and TV arrangements were announced. Unlike in every other professional sport, the plan offered no advantages to a team with the best regular-season record. Even more disturbing to fans, games for the four first-round playoff series were played at the same time, with games broadcast only regionally.
Despite these obstacles, the 1995 season proved an aesthetic, if not financial, success, as the two best teams in the majors snaked through the labyrinthine playoff structure to meet in the 1995 World Series.
The American League entry, for the first time since 1954, was the Cleveland Indians. Buoyed by Albert Belle's record slugging feats -- and ample support from Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Carlos Baerga, and Kenny Lofton -- the Tribe ripped through the regular season, winning 100 games and topping the American League Central by a whopping 30 lengths. Their reward was to draw the American League East-champion Boston Red Sox, owners of the American League's second-best record, in the first round of the playoffs. Still, Cleveland breezed to a three-game sweep.
The other American League division playoff paired the wildcard New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners. The Cinderella Mariners had caught the Angels in the final week, forcing a one-game shoot-out for the division crown. Strikeout king Randy Johnson won it for the Mariners -- and then won game three of the division playoff to avert a Yankees sweep. The Mariners took games four and five as well, winning the finale 6-5 on American League batting champ Edgar Martinez's two-run double in the bottom of the 11th. The victory dubbed Lou Piniella's Mariners "The Refuse to Lose Boys."
Although Seattle won the opener of the ALCS, its bubble then burst when Cleveland's superior pitchers -- Dennis Martinez and Orel Hershiser especially -- asserted themselves. The Indians won in six.
The National League playoffs offered little drama. The Reds swept Los Angeles in the opening playoff round, while Atlanta received a fight from wildcard Colorado before prevailing in four games. Like the Indians, the Braves were not given home-field advantage in the LCS despite having the top record in the National League. However, the Braves took only the minimum four contests to squelch Cincinnati in the NLCS.
In the 1995 World Series, the Braves opened at Fulton County Stadium, and their raucous home crowd helped spur them to victories in two straight one-run pitchers' battles. Atlanta lost two one-run games in Cleveland but sandwiched them around a 5-2 win in game four behind pitcher Steve Avery. Bobby Cox's crew returned to Georgia up 3-2 in games.
Game six matched Tom Glavine and Dennis Martinez. Elbow trouble sidelined Martinez in the fifth inning, and in the following frame David Justice rifled a drive over the right-field barrier off Tribe reliever Jim Poole. Justice's solo shot held up, as Glavine and closer Mark Wohlers hurled a combined one-hitter. The Braves' crisp 1-0 triumph made them the first team to win a world title representing three different cities -- Boston (1914), Milwaukee (1957), and Atlanta.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1995 baseball season.
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