3 Down, 1 To Go for Marlins
Oct. 24, 1997
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Now the World Series returns to Miami, where warmer weather, a rabid reception and perhaps a parade await the Florida Marlins.
Leading the Cleveland Indians three games to two, Florida needs only one more victory to win the World Series.
It's not a lock: The Series has been at 3-2 some 56 times, and the team trailing has rallied to win the series 18 times.
``Yes, there's one game-advantage,'' Marlins manager Jim 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.''
On Saturday, the Indians will have to beat the Marlins' best pitcher, 16-game winner Kevin Brown.
``We're going back home and we've got our No. 1 guy pitching,'' first baseman Darren Daulton said. ``If you were ever to look at a picture and say I like what I see, this would be the time.''
A frenzied crowd of more than 65,000 will be on hand at Pro Player Stadium, rooting for a victory that would give Miami its first professional sports title since the 1973 Miami Dolphins won the Super Bowl.
Despite the 24-year wait, Marlins mania has happened fast. Five years ago, the team didn't exist. Four years ago, the Marlins lost 98 games. This year, they posted a winning record for the first time.
The Marlins reached the playoffs faster than any previous expansion team, then became the first wild-card team to reach the World Series.
They're a combination of high-priced hired hands and homegrown youngsters, as Thursday's 8-7 victory over the Indians showed. Veteran Moises Alou hit a three-run homer to put Florida ahead to stay, and rookie Livan Hernandez pitched eight innings for the victory.
As the media filed into the clubhouse afterward, third baseman Bobby Bonilla shouted to his teammates.
``Great win, guys, great win,'' he said. ``Don't get too happy. We have to win another one.''
Despite a $54 million payroll following owner Wayne Huizenga's $89 million spending spree last offseason, the Marlins were underdogs when the postseason began. But in the first two rounds, they swept the San Francisco Giants and upset the two-time defending National League champion Atlanta Braves.
Along the way, the Marlins overcame injuries to Alou, Bonilla and 17-game winner Alex Fernandez. Against the Indians, they've overcome shaky starting pitching and a cold snap in Cleveland.
Brown lost Game 2 of the World Series, allowing six runs in six innings. But he was the winning pitcher in Florida's pennant-clinching victory against Atlanta.
``You have to feel good with Kevin Brown going Saturday,'' first baseman Jeff Conine said. ``He's our ace, he wrapped up the last series for us, and hopefully he can wrap this one up.
``But Cleveland is scary. They're very tough to beat.''
Detractors say other teams deserve to be in the Series instead of Cleveland and Florida. Before Game 5, Leyland defended his club.
``I'm sick and tired of hearing about New York and Atlanta and Baltimore,'' Leyland said. ``I get tired of having to apologize because the Florida Marlins and the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series.''
It's a safe bet the Marlins won't apologize if they win the World Series.