Small roles by many add up to big win Surhoff's pinch single, no-hit relief, Wells' start all played a part

CLEVELAND — CLEVELAND -- Game 4 of the 1996 American League Division Series between the Orioles and Cleveland Indians may very well be remembered as the Roberto Alomar game, for the Orioles second baseman's game-tying hit and game-winning home run.

However, it was much more than that. It was a team effort.


A series of clutch performances combined to give the Orioles their 4-3, 12-inning win, and a trip to the American League Championship Series. Those efforts may not be recalled as frequently as Alomar's heroics, but during the Orioles' wild clubhouse celebration, they were just as talked about.

"With our lineup, it's always going to be a team effort," said center fielder Brady Anderson. "We have so many weapons and our pitchers are keeping us in games. In the playoffs, one person is not going to carry us all."


Who knows if there even would have been a 12th inning if not for B. J. Surhoff's ninth-inning, pinch-hit single? Surhoff begged manager Davey Johnson to start yesterday, but Johnson feared Surhoff would aggravate his knee and hamstring injuries. He told Surhoff to be ready for late-inning duty, however.

Surhoff, who said he will be fine to play the field in the ALCS starting Tuesday, delivered a one-out single, and his pinch runner, Manny Alexander, eventually scored the Orioles' third run to force extra innings.

"That was my toughest at-bat ever for seeing the ball," Surhoff said. "It was as difficult to see as [any] I've ever had, and [Indians closer Jose] Mesa was pitching."

"Without B. J., the game is over," Anderson said. "That inning was the key to give us a chance to win the game."

The bullpen did the rest.

Terry Mathews, Jesse Orosco and Armando Benitez combined to no-hit the Indians, one of the best-hitting teams in the league, for the final five innings after starter David Wells went the first seven.

Mathews kept the Orioles in the game for 1 1/3 innings, shutting down the heart of the Indians' lineup in the eighth. Mathews struck out Kevin Seitzer, induced slugger Albert Belle and Julio Franco to pop out, then left after walking Manny Ramirez to start the ninth.

Orosco struck out Kenny Lofton to end the ninth with runners on second and third base, just one day after Orosco walked the bases loaded in Game 3, leading to the Orioles' only loss of the postseason.


In Game 3, Orosco was followed by Benitez, who served up a grand slam to Belle. Yesterday Benitez picked up his second win of the playoffs, striking out four batters, including Belle, in two huge innings of work.

"The second time was better for me," Benitez said. "I said I'm not going to give in to [Belle] and I didn't. I'm very happy with what happened."

Benitez made Orosco -- the 39-year-old dean of the Orioles' bullpen, affectionately called viejo (Spanish for old man) by his teammates -- very happy as well.

"That's what a bullpen is all about," Orosco said in the joyous clubhouse. "Everybody has to pick up everybody else. That's what we've done for each other. The other day Jesse Orosco screwed up and put Armando in a tough spot. Today he came in like I did and got out of a jam.

"I thank Davey Johnson for not giving up on me. That was pivotal."

And Orosco wouldn't have had a shot to redeem himself if not for the strong start from Wells, who scattered seven hits and three runs yesterday. He left with the Orioles trailing 3-2, but he could hold his head up after the game.


"My job is to keep the team in the game and give 110 percent," Wells said. "Everybody contributed [yesterday]. We all did our job. That's why we won."

Pub Date: 10/06/96