During the 1997 World Series, the Florida Marlins actually fared better in Cleveland than they did in South Florida. The Marlins won the series in seven games and took two of three at Jacobs Field.
As was the case in Game 3, the Marlins used a late-inning rally to take Game 5. They did so on this day 25 years ago for an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians and a 3-2 series lead.
The series was even 2-2 as the teams arrived in Cleveland on Oct. 23, 1997. The Marlins drew first blood in the second inning but were on the short end of a 4-2 score as the contest shifted to the sixth inning.
Cleveland starter Orel Hershiser had retired nine straight Marlins as he took the mound in the top of the sixth. He started the inning with a strikeout of Edgar Renteria, but a single from Gary Sheffield and a walk to Bobby Bonilla put the tying run on base. After Darren Daulton lined out, Moises Alou came to the plate.
Already with two home runs for the series, Alou did what he had done against Hershiser in Game 1 – went deep to give the Marlins the lead. On a 2-1 pitch, Alou hammered it over the centerfield wall to put Florida back in front, 5-4. Following consecutive singles from Jeff Conine and Charles Johnson, Hershiser’s night was done.
The Cleveland bullpen had a rough start to the night as Alvin Morman and Eric Plunk issued consecutive walks to push home another Florida run. The top of the sixth ultimately ended how it started – with a Renteria strikeout.
For Florida, rookie starter Livan Hernandez went eight innings and faced the minimum in four straight from the fourth through the seventh. The Marlins added insurance runs in the eight and ninth innings and they would need them.
Johnson’s RBI single in the eighth pushed the Marlins’ lead to 7-4. In the ninth, Alou plated his fourth run of the evening with an RBI single of his own. Hernandez came out to start the bottom of the ninth, but his own error and an infield single from Omar Vizquel forced manager Jim Leyland to go to closer Robb Nen.
After struggling in Game 3, Nen was far from sharp in Game 5, but again, he got the job done. Nen began his night with a strikeout of Manny Ramirez, but a two-run single from David Justice cut the Florida lead in half. Following a groundout from Matt Williams, Jim Thome’s RBI single made it an 8-7 game and brought Sandy Alomar to the plate.
Alomar was responsible for the Cleveland offense early. After Florida pushed across two runs in the second on an RBI single from Johnson and an RBI double from Devon White, Alomar singled home the Indians’ first run in the bottom of the inning. In the third, his three-run blast gave Cleveland the lead.
Nen was able to get ahead 1-2, but Alomar’s big swing put lumps in plenty of throats back in South Florida – but only for a moment. A deep drive to right drove Sheffield back toward the warning track, but he made the catch to seal the 8-7 win and send the series back to Florida.
Cleveland bounced back to win Game 6, but the Marlins rallied to win Game 7 and the World Series. Although the series concluded in South Florida, the Marlins had plenty to celebrate in Cleveland. The final game at Jacobs Field from that series was a one-run contest played on this day a quarter-century ago.