How wild is this? The Florida Marlins, that wild-card team, that expansion franchise, those guys in teal, are one win away from winning the World Series.
In one of the most seesaw Series ever, Florida overcame yet another deficit, beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 Thursday night to take a 3 games to 2 lead. Now, with the heat on the Indians, they leave the Rust Belt, go home to Miami and play before 67,000-plus fans doing the fish.Two chances for this 5-year-old franchise to become both the youngest Series champion and the first wild-card team to take the title.
"When it happens, it's going to be wild," said Moises Alou, who hit yet another go-ahead three-run homer off Orel Hershiser and drove in four runs.
In all three of their wins, the Marlins have come from behind. This time, 22-year-old Livan Hernandez overcame an awful first three innings to become the first rookie in 50 years to win two Series starts.
"I had (pitching coach) Larry Rothschild and every Spanish-speaking guy on the team talk to him to make sure - `Don't lose your cool, settle down, we're going to score some runs, just keep it right there,' " Marlins manager Jim Leyland said.
"I don't know which one it was, but one of them hit home," he said.
Neither team has sparkled in the first five games. Florida's ERA is 6.75 and Cleveland's is 6.14. There have been 11 errors and 56 walks - 12 short of the record for an entire Series.
Cleveland, trying for its first title since 1948, has outscored Florida 38-33, yet is on the verge of losing the Series for the second time in three seasons.
"We didn't get the big hits that they did," Marquis Grissom said.
If the Indians don't get some Saturday, when Kevin Brown pitches for Florida against Chad Ogea, the season will be over.
"They came here and beat us twice," Grissom said. "I don't see any reason we can't go down there and win two."
Florida led 2-0, but Sandy Alomar continued his magical season by putting Cleveland ahead 4-2 with an RBI single in the second and a three-run homer in the third. That gave him 10 RBI, two short of Bobby Richardson's Series record.
"I'll trade all the records for the World Series ring," Alomar said.
Hershiser made the lead stand up until the sixth, when Alou's three-run homer put the Marlins ahead. In Saturday's opener, Alou's three-run drive off Hershiser broke open a 1-all game.
"Even though I haven't had that many hits in postseason play, I've been driving guys in," said Alou, who has three homers and nine RBIs. "That's what counts."
Eric Plunk forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk later in the inning, Charles Johnson singled home a run in the eighth and Alou got an RBI single in the ninth to make it 8-4.
And all those runs were necessary.
Hernandez, who walked eight in eight-plus innings, was still around at the start of the ninth and allowed a grounder to first by Bip Roberts. The pitcher took the throw from Jeff Conine and appeared to touch the bag, but umpire Ken Kaiser - bringing back memories of Don Denkinger's blown call that helped Kansas City win Game 6 in 1985 - ruled the runner safe.
Robb Nen relieved one batter later and allowed a two-run single to David Justice and an RBI single to Jim Thome.
With the potential tying run on first and two outs, Alomar came to the plate. He hit a long fly to right, but Gary Sheffield caught it just in front of the warning track.
Florida flew back to the Sunshine State with the lead.
"Yes, there's a one game-advantage," Leyland said. "But the postseason is unlike the regular season. They're only one game behind. If they win a game, everything is back even. The Cleveland Indians are very capable of making that up."
Series notes: Teams alternated wins in the first five games for the first time since the New York Yankees and New York Giants alternated wins in all seven games of the 1962 Series. . . . The last rookie starter to win twice in a Series was Spec Shea for the Yankees in 1947. . . . It was 46 degrees at gametime, eight degrees higher than at the start of Game 4. And there wasn't any snow.