The 5-year-old Marlins made child's play of the World Series opener,
getting back-to-back home runs by Moises Alou and Charles Johnson and a
nice effort by rookie Livan Hernandez to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4
In doing so, Florida picked on a familiar foe.
It was Hershiser whom the Marlins beat in their very first game as an
expansion team, back on April 5, 1993, when he pitched for Los Angeles.
And now, in the biggest game in franchise history, they got him again.
Robb Nen, the fourth Marlins pitcher, worked out of a first and second
jam in the ninth for a save. His fastball was clocked at 102 mph as he struck
out Jim Thome and Sandy Alomar Jr. to give manager Jim Leyland a win in
his first Series game.
A Marlins' record crowd of 67,245 dressed in teal at Pro Player Stadium
saw Alou's three-run homer and Johnson's upper-deck shot in the fourth inning
put Florida ahead 5-1.
An inning after Alou and Johnson became the 11th set of teammates to
hit consecutive homers, Jeff Conine finished the 39-year-old Hershiser with
an RBI single. In that 1993 opener, Conine went 4-for-4 in the win over
the October ace.
"To get the first game is awesome," Alou said. "Now we
need to keep playing the same way. We are playing a team that never gave
up. They battled and kept coming back."
While Hershiser was tagged for a Series record-tying seven earned runs,
the 22-year-old Hernandez stayed in control. He became only the fifth rookie
to win a Series opener _ Philadelphia's Bob Walk did it last in 1980 _ and
showed the poise that enabled him to strike out 15 in Game 5 against Atlanta
in becoming MVP of the NLCS.
"He had very good stuff. He reminded me of (Greg) Maddux,"
Alou said of Hershiser. "He had good movement tonight and a very good
Florida followed its pattern of quick starts this year. The Marlins won
their first 11 spring training games, won three in a row to begin the regular
season and won four straight to start the NL playoffs.
The Indians, despite home runs by Manny Ramirez and Thome, lost the opener
of a postseason series for the sixth straight time. Cleveland closed to
7-4 in the eighth on Brian Giles' RBI double, but Jay Powell struck out
Omar Vizquel with two runners on base to end the inning.
Game 2 will be Sunday night, with Florida's Kevin Brown pitching against
Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings and improved
to 3-0 this October. Without umpire Eric Gregg's enlarged strike zone, he
Hernandez overcame a double by Bip Roberts on the third pitch of the
game. Wearing No. 32 on his cap in tribute to injured teammate Alex Fernandez,
he did not shake.
Hershiser, meanwhile, lasted just 4 1-3 innings and fell to 8-2 in postseason
play. With sweat creeping out on his cap bill in the 76-degree heat, he
The score was 1-all when Hershiser began his own downfall with a leadoff
walk to Bobby Bonilla in the fourth. Darren Daulton followed with a single
on a grounder that second baseman Roberts stopped but could not throw.
Up stepped Alou, whose sore left wrist contributed to him hitting only
.067 in the NLCS. Hershiser got two quick strikes, then Alou hooked a drive
to left that hit the foul pole for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead.
It was the third big hit of the postseason for Alou. He had a game-winning
single in the bottom of the ninth against San Francisco in the division
series and hit a three-run double off Maddux in a Game 1 victory in the
The crowd was still buzzing when Johnson gave them even more reason to
let loose. He launched a drive a lot longer than Alou's shot, a blast that
landed in the upper deck in left and was estimated at 438 feet, electrified
the neon-dressed fans.
Alou and Johnson hit the first consecutive homers since Boston's Dwight
Evans and Rich Gedman did it in Game 7 in 1986 in a loss to the New York
Ramirez homered off the facing of the upper deck in left, making it 5-2.
His eight postseason home runs are the most in Indians history.
The Marlins wasted no time in striking back, however, scoring twice in
the fifth for a 7-2 lead.
Conine, the lone Marlins regular left from the team's inaugural game,
hit an RBI single that finished Hershiser. Conine replaced Daulton in the
top half in a defensive switch.
Jeff Juden relieved, and his wild pitch on ball four to Johnson scored
another run that gave Florida a 7-2 lead.
Thome, held to one RBI in the AL playoffs after hitting 40 home runs
in the regular season, went the opposite way for a solo homer in the sixth
that closed Cleveland to 7-3.
Dave Justice, sidelined in last year's World Series by an injured shoulder,
put the Indians ahead 1-0 in the opening inning. Roberts led off the game
with the first of his two doubles and scored on Justice's single.
The Marlins tied it in the third when Craig Counsell doubled, moved up
on a sacrifice and scored on Edgar Renteria's grounder.
Notes: Gary Sheffield walked twice. He has walked in all 10 of Florida's
postseason games, drawing a total of 14. ... The previous most southerly
spot to hold a World Series was San Diego in 1984. ... Tony Fernandez, whose
11th-inning homer gave Cleveland a 1-0 win over Baltimore in the ALCS clincher,
did not start. Roberts played second base instead, though Fernandez is expected
back in the lineup when the DH is used at Jacobs Field.