Take Game 5 as the latest example.
Baltimore was three outs away from a nice, tidy shutout that would send the Orioles home and prolong their season. Then Cleveland began working its Jacobs Field magic again.
Trailing 4-0, the Indians scored two runs and had runners at second and third with two outs in the ninth when Omar Vizquel sent a grounder through the middle that had game-tying single written all over it.
This time, though, Roberto Alomar made the play as the Orioles survived with a 4-2 victory, leaving the Indians with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"Whatever chance we might still have, we still have a chance," said Orioles starter Scott Kamieniecki, who combined with Jimmy Key to blank the Indians for eight innings. "Until you deep-six us, we're going to come out playing."
As will the Indians, although Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove isn't sure what to expect in Game 6 on Wednesday at Camden Yards.
"The way this series has been, I don't see how anyone can feel confident about anything. We've got our work cut out for us going back into Baltimore. Certainly, we'd rather be in the position we're in, but they have a very good ballclub. It's come down to the last two games."
After an off-day, the best-of-7 series will resume with Cleveland's Charles Nagy facing Mike Mussina, who struck out an ALCS record 15 in Game 3 and will again pitch in the twilight.
For the first time in three games at Cleveland, the Orioles weren't undone by the bizarre or unexplainable. There was no steal of home on a botched squeeze play in the 12th inning or two runners scoring on a wild pitch.
Meanwhile, the Indians let down their rowdy fans by not putting away the Orioles.
"It's kind of disappointing because the fans have been doing a great job for us this series," Vizquel said. "They deserved to see us win."
Leading 2-0, the Orioles added two crucial runs when Eric Davis, whose comeback from colon cancer surgery has given the Orioles an emotional lift, connected for a pinch-homer off Paul Assenmacher and Cal Ripken hit an RBI single.
Compared to two straight nerve-racking weekend games, Game 5 seemed almost a snoozer. The Jacobs Field crowd of 45,068, which screamed itself hoarse during Cleveland's stunning wins on Saturday and Sunday, was rather subdued until the ninth, when trailing 4-0, the Indians finally stirred some more October drama.
David Justice singled off Randy Myers leading off, and Matt Williams followed with an RBI double. Sandy Alomar flied out to right and Tony Fernandez hit another RBI double that brought the potential tying run to the plate.
Marquis Grissom reached on an infield single _ Myers knocked down a comebacker, but couldn't come up with the ball _ and Bip Roberts struck out as Grissom stole second.
With the crowd shaking the ballpark, Myers finally ended it with an assist from Alomar. Vizquel hit a grounder up the middle that the second baseman ran down on the outfield grass and made an off-balance throw that beat the speedy Vizquel by a step.
Kamieniecki, who relieved Key in Game 2, was making his first start since Sept. 24. The right-hander gave Johnson everything he could have hoped for by limiting the Indians to four hits in five innings, with one walk and four strikeouts.
But he was forced to leave with elbow stiffness after the fifth, and Key came on in relief for the first time since he won the deciding Game 6 of the 1992 World Series for Toronto.
Key pitched three scoreless innings, with three strikeouts. Baltimore's bullpen finally closed out a win after going 0-3 with a 3.14 ERA in the first four games.
"I knew I'd get a stellar performance out of Kamieniecki," Johnson said, "and I got a bonus with Jimmy Key."
Baltimore took a 2-0 lead off Chad Ogea in the second. Chris Hoiles singled with one out, and after Mike Bordick struck out, Brady Anderson's hit to right sent Hoiles to third.
Ogea was careful with Alomar, walking him to load the bases, and Geronimo Berroa followed by lining a two-run single. First baseman Jim Thome cut off Grissom's throw on the play and nailed Alomar at third to end the inning.
Kamieniecki pitched inside to Manny Ramirez twice in the first inning before hitting the Cleveland right fielder on the upper left arm. Ramirez never dropped his bat as he shouted at Kamieniecki and was escorted to first base by plate umpire Larry McCoy.
"I don't know why he would think I would try to hit him," Kamieniecki said. "It kind of got me ticked off, him thinking I was trying to hit him."
Ogea, who was also the Game 1 loser, allowed six hits in eight innings. The Indians haven't scored a run for him in 19 1/3 innings during the playoffs.
Notes: Only eight teams in postseason history have come back from 3-1
deficits to win a series. It's been done five times in the World Series
and three times in league championship series. ... The five games have
been decided by a combined eight runs. ... Cleveland had three double
plays to set an ALCS record with nine in the series.