With a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Cleveland Indians clinch the American League Central Division crown. With the season shortened at the front-end of the schedule, it was the 123rd game of the season, the fastest that any team has won a title in Major League history. The Indians improve to 86-37 with the win.
Cleveland got all of the runs that it needed in the third inning off of Baltimore starter Kevin Brown. Sandy Alomar was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to third on a single to right by Kenny Lofton. A sacrifice fly from Omar Vizquel scored Alomar with the game’s first run. A single to right from Carlos Baerga advanced Lofton to third and after a walk to Albert Belle to load the bases, Eddie Murray delivered a two-run single to center to make it 3-0.
A double play grounder from Bobby Bonilla in the top of the fourth off of Cleveland’s Orel Hershiser knocked in the O’s first run of the night. A pair of doubles in the seventh off of “the Bulldog” scored Harold Baines from second to make it a one-run game and ended Hershiser’s outing.
Holding on to a one-run lead in the ninth and working against his former club, closer Jose Mesa got Cal Ripken to ground out and Baines to fly out. After a walk to catcher Chris Hoiles, Jeff Huson popped up in foul territory, where third baseman Jim Thome made the catch and Cleveland celebrated the end of its 41-year playoff drought.
Kansas City, second in the Central, was 23.5 games in back of Cleveland at the end of the day.