12. Roberto Alomar plays hero in Game 4 to clinch the 1996 American League Division Series
The Cleveland Indians were the best team in baseball after winning 99 games in the regular season while the flawed — and often dysfunctional — Orioles needed a late-season rally to qualify as the American League’s 1996 wild card. That didn’t stop Baltimore from taking the first two games of the ALDS played at Camden Yards before traveling to Jacobs Field, which was a house of horrors for opposing teams against the Indians’ powerful lineup.
After losing Game 3 thanks to a grand slam by Albert Belle off Armando Benitez, the Orioles trailed 3-2 in the ninth inning of Game 4 with the prospects of their early-series edge evaporating and the deciding game also being played in Cleveland. That’s when second baseman Roberto Alomar came through, stroking a game-tying single off All-Star closer Jose Mesa with two outs to force extra innings.
The teams remained tied until the top of the 12th when Alomar — who was public enemy No. 1 everywhere but Baltimore after the spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck only days earlier — led off with a home run to right-center off Mesa to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead and eventually the series win as they advanced to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1983.
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