Enough talk about Randy Johnson. It's time to recognize Mike Mussina as one of the best pitchers in the game, too.
Mussina outpitched Johnson for the second time in five days, and the Baltimore Orioles got home runs from Jeff Reboulet and Geronimo Berroa to beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 Sunday and win their AL division series, three games to one.Baltimore will open its second straight appearance in the AL championship series Wednesday at home against either Cleveland or the defending World Series champion New York Yankees. New York led 2-1 going into Sunday night's game in the best-of-5 series.
Mussina, working on three days' rest for the first time this season, allowed two hits in seven innings to win his second game of the series - both against Johnson, the Mariners' ace and a 20-game winner.
"I'll tell you, the more I see him pitch the more impressed I am with him," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "He goes out there and battles."
Johnson started five games against the Orioles this season and Seattle lost every one of them. The Big Unit was 0-4 against Baltimore compared to 20-2 against the rest of league.
"I someone had told me the Big Unit would start five times against us and we would win all five of them, I'd say they were crazy," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said.
The reason, according to Piniella, is clear.
"He was matched up against Mussina, unfortunately, three of those times," Piniella said. "And Mike has just pitched outstanding against us. I don't look at is as much as Randy getting beat today as the fact that we just didn't hit the baseball."
Johnson, who came in 3-8 with a 4.93 ERA lifetime against the Orioles, struck out 13, walked two and allowed seven hits in his sixth complete game of the year. But as is usually the case, it wasn't good enough to beat Baltimore.
Johnson, who allowed five runs in five innings in the opener, absorbed a second straight defeat for the first time since April 30-May 6, 1994.
That's because Mussina was brilliant. The only hits against the right-hander were a home run by Edgar Martinez and a single to Rob Ducey, both in the second inning.
Mussina, who also won Game 1, struck out seven and walked three in improving to 10-1 lifetime against the Mariners - 3-0 this season.
Armando Benitez pitched the eighth, retiring Ken Griffey Jr. on a grounder with a runner on second to end the inning, and Randy Myers completed the two-hitter for the save.
"I felt like I did what I was supposed to do, and the bullpen did what they were supposed to do," Mussina said.
"We've won all year with Benitez and Myers, so I didn't have any problem making the change," Davey Johnson said.
The Mariners led the majors with 925 runs scored, but managed only 11 in the series. Griffey, who hit .304 with 56 homers, was 0-for-4 Sunday and finished 2-for-15 in the series without a home run.
"We weren't going to let him beat us," Davey Johnson said.
The Orioles wasted no time in letting Randy Johnson know that this game would be similar to all the rest this season. With one out in the first, Reboulet hit a 3-2 pitch into the left-field seats - his 14th career homer and second off Johnson.
Reboulet started in place of All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar as Davey Johnson again stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters against the big Seattle lefty.
Berroa followed with a double and Cal Ripken lined a single to right for a 2-0 lead. Johnson struck out the side but threw 35 pitches.
Martinez led off the second inning with his second homer off Mussina in the series and fifth in 35 lifetime at-bats against the right-hander.
Both pitchers settled down after that. Mussina struck out the side in the third inning and Johnson got his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. By that time, Johnson threw 79 pitches and had seven strikeouts.
Johnson added two more strikeouts in the fifth before Berroa drove a 1-0 slider into the left-field seats, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead and drawing derisive chants of "Ran-dee, Ran-dee" from the sellout crowd.
Berroa also homered off Johnson in the opener.
Indians 3, Yankees 2
At Cleveland, Omar Vizquel slapped a game-winning hit off Ramiro Mendoza's glove in the ninth and the Cleveland Indians avoided elimination at the hands of their old nemesis.
The teams will meet Monday in the first playoff game in Cleveland baseball history in which both teams face elimination. Cleveland rookie Jaret Wright, who won Game 2 impressively in New York, faces Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte.
Sandy Alomar set up the ninth-inning drama with yet another heroic homer in the best year of his career. Alomar, who hit the game-winning homer in the All-Star game at Jacobs Field, tied it 2-2 in the eighth with a solo homer off Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera.
It was the first run New York's bullpen surrendered in the series, but not the first time the Indians have beaten Rivera. On July 14 at Yankee Stadium, Marquis Grissom beat Rivera with a 10th-inning homer.
Grissom led off the ninth with a bloop single to right, and Bip Roberts sacrificed. Vizquel then smacked a ball off Mendoza's glove that bounced past shortstop Derek Jeter, who got crossed up and was expecting to field it up the middle.
Cleveland avoided getting ousted in the first round for the second straight year and snapped a 22-inning slump in which they scored only two runs.
The Indians also stopped New York's nine-game postseason road winning streak.
Graeme Lloyd, Nelson and Mike Stanton extended New York's bullpen's scoreless innings streak to 11 2-3 innings before Alomar, now 3-for-6 in his career against Rivera, homered to right.
Dwight Gooden and Orel Hershiser dueled brilliantly into the seventh in a rematch of a Game 1 showdown in the 1988 NL championship series.
Gooden was making his first postseason start since Game 4 of the '88 NLCS, which his Mets lost to Hershiser's Dodgers in seven games.
Hershiser is 8-1 in 14 postseason starts.