1995 World Series
After losing the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship in '93, the Atlanta Braves returned to the Fall Classic following a forced one year hiatus due to the subsequent cancellation of the Series by the collective team owners. Baseball's newest dynasty had boasted a strong farm team system that featured Andruw Jones who batted .277 with twenty-five home runs, one hundred runs batted in and fifty-six stolen bases at Class-A Macon (South Atlantic) and their current line-up was just as good with Javier Lopez, Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones at the plate.
The biggest advantage in Atlanta however was the presence of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine (16-7, 3.08 ERA) and John Smoltz on the mound who combined for one of the best rotations in the history of the game. Their opponents, the Cleveland Indians were 2-1 in Series play and had not made a final postseason appearance in a staggering forty-one years. The American League champs were not as stacked in either category, but still finished the regular season with an amazing 100-44 record and a .694 winning percentage.
Atlanta ace Maddux set the tone in Game 1 after single-handedly defeating four of his rivals' counterparts (Orel Hershiser, Paul Assenmacher, Julian Tavarez and Alan Embree) in a 3-2 opening victory that featured a Fred McGriff blast as the only home run. Game 2 took a different turn as eight combined pitchers went head-to-head including Cleveland's Dennis Martinez, Alan Embree, Jim Poole and Julian Tavarez and the Braves' Tom Glavine, Greg McMichael, Alejandro Pena and Mark Wohlers (who emerged 4-3 victors). Both Eddie Murray and Lopez managed homers for their respective teams, but the revolving bullpens depleted the pool of relievers available for Game 3.
The "pitcher's clinic" continued in the third outing as the National League's John Smoltz, Brad Clontz, Kent Mercker, Greg McMichael, Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena matched the American League's Charles Nagy, Paul Assenmacher, Julian Tavarez and Jose Mesa bringing the total to a staggering eighteen pitchers used in two games. This time the Indians held on for the 7-6 win despite surrendering homers to both Ryan Klesko and McGriff.
Eight more arms received the call on the hill in Game 4 as Cleveland led the race thanks to an Albert Belle blast followed by a Manny Ramirez homer, but failed to finish the marathon falling behind 5-2 for their third loss. Orel Hershiser got revenge against Maddux the next day as only two pitchers (each) were used in the fifth outing. Klesko and Luis Polonia knocked one out of the park and were matched by Albert Belle and Jim Thome who pushed their team to a 5-4 triumph that extended the Series for another day. Cleveland's Kenny Lofton dominated the baselines with a record, six stolen bases in Game 6, but was unable to beat Tom Glavine's change-up, that vanquished five Indian pitchers, for the 1-0 victory and their third World Series title.