Baseball-Almanac.com's Divisional Series section
1997 American League Divisional Series:
Cleveland Indians (3),
New York Yankees (2)
The 1997 American League Divisional Series was penned as both a "re-peat and three-peat" as all participants were returning for their second and/or third postseason appearance. Many critics scoffed at the predictability that had become the ALDS and questioned the levity of major league playoff baseball. The Baltimore Orioles, who had defeated the Cleveland Indians in '96 returned to meet the Seattle Mariners, who had defeated the New York Yankees in '95. The New York Yankees in turn, returned in '97 after beating the Texas Rangers in '96 to face the Cleveland Indians - who had lost previously to the Baltimore Orioles. In all, the Orioles and Mariners were both making their second trip, and the Indians and Yankees were making their third. Unfortunately, this pattern of predictability would change little for years to come.
The New York Yankees, still riding high from their '96 World Series run, started things off with a "bang" becoming the first in postseason history to hit three consecutive home runs for an 8-6 opening rally against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians' 21-year-old rookie Jaret Wright got off to a rough start in the first inning of Game 2, but regained his composure on the mound and managed to overcome a three-run deficit to even the series with a 7-5 comeback. Yankees lefty David Wells tossed a clutch-five-hitter in Game 3 with support at the plate by Paul O'Neill who added the first franchise-post season grand slam in 33 years. That however, would be the end of "big news" for the "big apple". Following a Sandy Alomar homer off Mariano Rivera in the ninth to keep the "tribe" alive, Omar Vizquel delivered with a 3-2, Game 4 winner off pitcher Ramiro Mendoza's glove. Things remained in Cleveland's favor with a 4-3 victory in the decisive Game 5, advancing the Indians to their second AL Championship Series in three years and ending the Yankees bid for a 24th World Series title.
The Baltimore Orioles repeated their opening day performance from the last season with a dominant 9-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners and "Big Unit" Randy Johnson. Baltimore pitcher Mike Mussina also tallied his first (of many) postseason wins. Game 2 mirrored the massacre in Game 1 as the Oriole hitters slaughtered the Mariners bullpen for six runs nine hits, for a second straight 9-3 victory. Seattle's Jeff Fassero stepped up on the mound for the third contest and managed to keep his team alive with a clutch performance that allowed only 3 hits in eight shutout innings. Fassero also retired 18 straight batters in one stretch for the crucial 4-2 win. Mussina met Johnson for the second time in five days for Game 4 and with home run insurance from both Jeff Reboulet and Geronimo Berroa picked up a second postseason win and 3-1 series clincher.
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