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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Indians Sweep Up Red Sox

October 07, 1995|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOSTON — Omar Vizquel leaped into Albert Belle's arms at game's end, took a quick look around at his teammates and realized he was overdoing it.

There were handshakes all around, and maybe a high-five or two, but the Cleveland Indians' celebration of their three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox was relatively tame.

"I thought there would be champagne," Vizquel said after the Indians' 8-2 victory that clinched their American League playoff series Friday night before 34,211 at Fenway Park.

Friday's victory was the Indians' 103rd in 147 games in 1995, and although it doesn't look as if anyone can match their hitting, defense or pitching, there was a sense in the clubhouse that there remains more to be accomplished before the partying begins.

"To be known as a great team, I think we're going to have to win the World Series," General Manager John Hart said.

Charles Nagy, who pitched four-hit ball over seven innings, spoke as if it were merely another regular-season victory instead of his first playoff victory in his first playoff start.

"This is just one step to where we want to go," Nagy said. "The next series is going to be tough."

Cleveland, which went 41 years between postseason appearances, advances to play the winner of the Seattle-New York series.

And that's 13 consecutive playoff losses for the Red Sox, whose failures will torment their faithful for yet another winter. The Red Sox haven't won a World Series since 1918 and have been swept in three consecutive AL playoff series.

"It will stick with me all winter the way this series went," Boston first baseman Mo Vaughn said. "I'll have to live with it. We'll learn something. I'll learn something."

Vaughn, a most valuable player candidate, went hitless in 14 at-bats during the series, one member of a 0-for-39 trio that also included leadoff hitter Dwayne Hosey and cleanup hitter Jose Canseco.

Cleveland's lineup was celebrated for its power throughout the season, but standout starting pitching keyed the Indians' sweep. Nagy, like Dennis Martinez in Game 1 and Orel Hershiser in Game 2, was solid, consistent and able to tame a good-hitting club.

Boston hit .280 during the season, but only .184 against Cleveland during the playoffs.

Friday, the Indians methodically pulled away as Nagy and relievers Julian Tavarez and Paul Assenmacher quieted the Red Sox.

"I'm not sorry Mo Vaughn didn't get a hit," Cleveland Manager Mike Hargrove said. "But a guy like Mo Vaughn deserves better."

A couple of persistent reporters cornered Hershiser, pressing him to find a weakness on the Indians. He tried feebly to duck the question, then finally gave up.

"I don't know," Hershiser said, smiling. "you try to find one. I think there's always been a sense that this team can do something special. Fortunately, we've been able to respond.

"I think the first month of the season or so, when we were getting those incredible comeback victories, you could see this coming."

No comebacks were needed in Game 3.

The Indians built a 3-1 lead, then broke the game open with five runs in the sixth inning. Vizquel had a two-run single and Sandy Alomar a two-run double to key the big inning.

Boston Manager Kevin Kennedy started Jose Canseco in right field, inserting Reggie Jefferson in the designated hitter's spot in a desperate effort to produce more offense.

Before Friday, Canseco had played the outfield only once since a fly ball conked him on the head and flew over the fence in 1993.

"Defense is one thing, but we need to score some runs," Kennedy said when asked if he wasn't gambling by playing Canseco in the field. "Reggie Jefferson has hit extremely well."

In the end, neither Canseco nor Jefferson made an impact. None of the Red Sox did.

Canseco, who batted .306 with 24 homers and 81 runs batted in during the regular season, went 0 for 13 in the series. Vaughn, who hit 39 home runs with 126 RBIs in '95, struck out seven times. Hosey was 0 for 12.

Against the Indians, the Red Sox needed so much more.

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