Scott alluded to the heartbreak of Game Three in our previous installment of our look back at the 1995 World Series and man, was it brutal. John Smoltz struggled as he lasted just two innings and gave up 4 runs. However, the Braves rallied to take the lead late only to have the Indians tie the game to force extras and then walk off in the bottom of the 11th inning to close the Braves' lead in the series 2 games to 1.
The Braves got the scoring started as Fred McGriff would drive in Chipper Jones after Chipper hit a double to the left-center gap, but after that things got rough. John Smoltz is widely considered to be a great postseason player and he was... but this was not his finest hour. The Indians lineup was stacked in 1995 and during the first three innings, they showed their strength, especially in the top half of the order. Smoltz only recorded one out in the third inning and gave up 6 hits and 2 walks total as well as RBIs to Carlos Baerga (2), Omar Vizquel, and Albert Belle. Brad Clontz would relieve him in the third and mercifully induced aninning ending double play from Manny Ramirez to keep the Indians' lead at 4-1.
Over the next few innings, the Braves' and Indians' pitching staffs held firm with Brad Clontz and Kent Mercker holding things down, until things started getting more interesting starting in the sixth inning. Fred McGriff, continuing his strong World Series, hit a solo homer to right field to cut the Indians' lead to 4-2 and Ryan Klesko (he of the Captain Caveman swing) followed with a solo shot of his own to bring the Braves within a run. However, Carlos Baerga would drive another run in off of Mercker to extend the Indians lead to 5-3 before we entered the 8th inning.
Did I mention that the Braves rallied? Because they did... and it was awesome. After Marquis Grissom doubled and Luis Polonia drove him in to chase Charles Nagy in the 8th, Chipper walked and McGriff would put Polonia and Chipper in scoring position with a deep fly out. David Justice would then reach on an E4 when Baerga booted a deep grounder which would score Luis Polonia and tie the game. After another Indians pitching change, Mike Devereaux would pinch hit for Ryan Klesko (there's a sentence I never thought I would type) and the switch would pay off as Devereaux would drive in Chipper and the Braves took the lead 6-5.
Unfortunately, the excitement for the Braves was short lived as Mark Wohlers would come in in the bottom of the 8th inning after a couple of Indians reached base (it was a different, non-Fredi time... cue the pictures in the comments of Kimbrel being trapped in the bullpen against the Dodgers). Wohlers would then give up a double to Sandy Alomar and the Indians would force extra innings.
In extras, the teams traded a couple hits here and there, but the bullpens held firm for the most part. In the bottom of the 11th, however, after Carlos Baerga (the Terror) hit a double and was replaced with a pinch-runner, pinch-hitter and future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray came to the plate. Then...this happened.
That one still stings. With their win, the Indians cut the Braves lead to 2-1 as they tried to hold serve at home. For the next game, Steve Avery would take on Ken Hill in Cleveland in another great game....but more on that in our next installment.