The New York Yankees' bags at their hotel were already packed for Baltimore. The Cleveland Indians made sure they'll stay in their rooms for at least another day.
With one of those did-you-see-that comebacks that make baseball's postseason a riveting ritual of October, the Tribe sparked hysteria at Jacobs Field Sunday night with a 3-2 victory over New York that evened the American League playoff series at two wins apiece.
Sandy Alomar homered in the eighth off New York bullpen ace Mariano Rivera to tie the game at 2-2. Then the baseball gods smiled upon the Indians, as Omar Vizquel ricocheted the game-winning single off pitcher Ramiro Mendoza in the ninth to score Marquis Grissom.
Suddenly gone is the aura of invincibility around the New York bullpen -- which had not been scored upon for 11 2/3 innings in this series until Alomar's home run. Suddenly back is the Indians' swagger that disappeared in Saturday's 6-1 clunker.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are hoping this series isn't going to rekindle memories of their 1995 division series collapse in Seattle.
Game Five is tonight (8, Ch. 29) with Cleveland rookie Jaret Wright trying for an encore of his Game Two performance against New York's Andy Pettitte.
Vizquel's two-hopper changed direction when it hit Mendoza and skittered past the dive of New York shortstop Derek Jeter as Grissom scored from second. Grissom led off the ninth with a single and took second on Bip Roberts' sacrifice.
"I saw it go past the pitcher and I didn't see it again," Grissom said. "So then I picked up the third-base coach (Jeff Newman) and he kept waving me. It was a special moment."
"One of those things," Jeter said with a shrug. "It changed directions and there's not much you can do."
"Omar has been so big," Alomar said of Vizquel, who has a series-best eight hits. "He's been getting a chance to start some rallies. Now he finished one."
After trailing, 2-1, since the second inning, the Indians finally tied the game on Alomar's two-out, opposite-field home run to right in the eighth. Alomar's drive off Rivera barely cleared the leap of right fielder Paul O'Neill.
"Mariano supplies the power because he throws so hard," Alomar said. "When I hit it I thought it was gone, but I saw Paul going back and I said, 'No way.' But it was good enough to go out."
"I couldn't believe it. It wasn't that bad of a pitch," New York center fielder Bernie Williams said. "Alomar just went with it."
For nearly six innings, the game was a duel between starting pitchers Dwight Gooden and Orel Hershiser. Gooden left after 5 2/3 , allowing a run on five hits, striking out five and walking three. Hershiser went seven innings, allowing six of his eight hits over the first two frames, and walking none.
Hershiser quickly fell behind, 2-0, in the first on an RBI double by O'Neill and an RBI single by Cecil Fielder. It could have been much worse.
Charlie Hayes added to Hershiser's misery by driving an 0-2 pitch for a single to left, but Brian Giles ended the rally by gunning down Tino Martinez at the plate. It was a play that loomed large as the game stayed close. By the end of the night, it became a season-saver for Cleveland.
"When I got the ball, Tino was just rounding third," Giles said. "I was pretty shallow so I thought I had a good shot. Sandy was there for me at the other end. Runs in the postseason are so scarce that anything you can do to shut them down is a big boost."
"Giles really picked me up," Hershiser added. "That could have turned into a debacle right there. . . . My mechanical adjustment was letting Brian Giles throw the guy out at the plate."
The Indians cut the lead in half in the second when David Justice golfed an inside fastball from Gooden for a leadoff home run to deep right-center.
The pitchers then took over, with Hershiser retiring 15 of 16 in one stretch and Gooden getting 10 of 11 in another. The Yankees were four outs away from their second straight ALCS against the Orioles. They never got them.
"If you're going to get to Orel, you have to do it early and we didn't," New York manager Joe Torre said. "That was a big key. We had him on the ropes and just couldn't do a whole lot."
The Yankees recovered in fine fashion after their Game Two defeat with a 6-1 whipping of the Indians on Saturday. They'll need to bounce back again tonight if they hope to repeat as world champs.
"You really don't have time to feel sorry for yourself in the playoffs because it doesn't get you anywhere," Torre said. "Whether you win or lose, you have to turn the page and deal with the fact and deal with reality."
The reality is that the Indians became the favorites to win this series as soon as Grissom raced home.
"When he crossed the plate, I said to myself, 'Tomorrow, we've got a chance,' " Alomar said. "I was already forgetting about this game."
Maybe Alomar was looking ahead, but forget Sunday night's game? No matter what happens tonight, the finish to this one will be a lasting memory of this series.