| ||CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians feared Nomar Garciaparra
so much they walked him intentionally twice. They should have
worried about Troy O'Leary.
Twice O'Leary came up after the AL batting champion stared at
four balls and twice he homered on the first pitch -- a grand slam
in the third inning and a three-run homer in the seventh.
Finally, the Indians decided to walk O'Leary intentionally in
the ninth. By then it was too late.
The two homers by O'Leary, who doesn't get much attention
because of his soft-spoken nature, gave the Boston Red Sox a 12-8
win as they came back from losses in the first two games to take
the AL Division Series 3-2 Monday night.
"It's the biggest night of my life," Boston's left fielder
There haven't been many good ones lately. He had been 2-for-17
in the series before his first homer and he had tailed off at the
end of a season in which he hit .280 with a team-high 28 homers.
"It doesn't matter. That's all in the past," O'Leary said.
"Tonight's a big night for us."
The Red Sox move on to the AL Championship Series against the
New York Yankees starting Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium.
O'Leary's second homer off Paul Shuey broke an 8-8 tie in the seventh and put
the Red Sox ahead 11-8. The first, off Charles Nagy, had put Boston in front 7-5 in
It was understandable for the Indians to risk pitching to
He went 0-for-5 Sunday night when Boston pounded out 24 hits in
a 23-7 win at Fenway Park that tied the series. And first base was
open both times Garciaparra came to the plate before the homers.
"We had been handling O'Leary up until tonight," Cleveland
manager Mike Hargrove said. "There was no way to pitch around
(Garciaparra) in the first inning because there was a man standing
on first base.
"In subsequent times, first base was open so we put him on."
The first inning gave the Indians even more reason to pitch to
O'Leary rather than Garciaparra, who had given Boston a 2-0 lead
with a homer. O'Leary ended the inning by striking out.
He was in the midst of his second straight horrid Division
Series after going just 1-for-16 last year as Cleveland beat Boston
In the third, after Brian Daubach's double put runners at second
and third with one out, Hargrove had Nagy walk Garciaparra.
O'Leary then hit Nagy's next pitch 417 feet into the right-center
field stands for Boston's first postseason grand slam in its
"My man Troy!" an uncharacteristically exuberant general
manager Dan Duquette said, pouring champagne over O'Leary's head.
"Got the first grand slam in postseason history. Thatta baby!"
It was Duquette who claimed O'Leary on waivers on April 14,
1995, after Milwaukee gave up on him. O'Leary responded by batting
.308 that season.
On Monday, the score was tied 8-8 when Hargrove faced a decision
on whether to walk Garciaparra in the seventh. And, despite
O'Leary's grand slam, the manager still wanted no part of
So after John Valentin walked and moved to second on Daubach's
grounder to second baseman Roberto Alomar, Shuey deliberately
threw four balls to Garciaparra.
"They walked Nomar a few times. That's a personal challenge,"
Boston right fielder Trot Nixon said. "Troy took that to heart."
"It's been happening all year. Sometimes I respond. Sometimes I
don't," O'Leary said of the intentional walks to Garciaparra.
"The way I've been swinging, I told myself just make good
He couldn't have done much better.
"It was Troy's day today," said Valentin, who just one night
earlier had two homers and seven RBI. "He doesn't get the credit.
We love him."
Mon, October 11
On Tuesday, Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain
Dealer wrote that after Nomar Garciaparra had 11 RBI in the
postseason last year, 17 against the Indians this year
and then a home run and a double in Game 1, that in
baseball history there was Mordecai "Three Finger"
Brown, Antonio Alfonseca of the Marlins, who has six
fingers, and Mike Hargrove who needed to learn the four fingers -- meaning to walk
Well, Hargrove did what the fans and the writers wanted and you can see what it got
him. Troy O'Leary hit the next pitch each time and knocked in seven runs. I don't know if you
second-guess the decision to walk Garciaparra or not. Maybe Hargrove should have
brought in Ricky Rincon in that spot, but this year O'Leary did hit .354 against
left-handed pitchers. The big problem for the Indians was that their bullpen
really imploded in this series.
Red Sox vs. Indians series page
Pedro's relief work pitches Red Sox into ALCS