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TWinnipeg Goldeyes @ Blarney Drive Bandits

Winnipeg GoldeyesBlarney Drive Bandits84-56 National League Wild Card Winner Winnipeg Goldeyes take on the National League Western Division Winner 94-46 Blarney Drive Bandits for a chance to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Batting HRs ERA/OBA
Blarney .272/.343/.425 136 3.13/.224
Winnipeg .264/.340/.421 174 3.75/.250

Teams are fairly even batting wise. Bandits BA a bit higher but Goldeyes slugging gets the nod. Pitching is the biggest difference between the clubs.

GAME #1 – Tom Candiotti 16-9 (3.29) vs. Randy Johnson 22-1 (1.59)

Johnson was a major horse all year for Blarney and he delivered 8 innings of 2-run ball.
Candiotti was up for the match as he allowed just 1 run over 5.2. We pick up the action in the bottom half of the 8th, Goldeyes leading 2-1, Steve Reed on in relief of Candiotti: Henderson leads off the inning and Reed walks him. Reed rubs the ball a bit more as Lou Whitaker steps in. Whitaker taps it to Reed but he has to go to first as the speedy Henderson takes 2nd. Ryan Klesko pops up to Ventura, no joy. Goldeyes Manager pulls a switch and Dave Veres trots in to face Eddie Murray. It’s Veres game to save. Veres brings the heat and tries to saw-off the veteran Murray but Eddie gets the barrel out and drills it by a diving McGwire, Henderson scores easily and it’s all tied up 2-2. Veres then gets Greenwell to end the 8th. Lee Smith climbs the hill for the Bandits and delivers a great 1-2-3 9th.  Winnipeg’s Veres stalks out to redeem himself in the 10th, will he? Shawn Green grounds out but the pesky Kevin Seitzer follows that up with a walk. Veres paws the dirt. Brett Mayne (Mr. Clock Me With A Sundial) settles in as the Bandit faithful look anxiously into the dugout, praying for a pinch hitter, but no. Mayne and Bordick go down easily so game 1 will take extras. Smith on for his 2nd inning of work and conjures up another 1-2-3 inning. Henderson leading off vs. Veres and Rickey draws another walk. Whitaker, in what will be his last season, strokes Veres’ first offering for a no-doubter. It’s all over! Good-Bye Mr. Spalding!


W – Lee Smith (1-0)
L – Dave Veres (0-1)

GAME #2 – Curt Schilling 9-7 (3.27) vs. Mike Birkbeck 2-1 (3.14)

Blarney sends Mike Birkbeck (2-1 3.14) out to face Winnipeg’s Curt Schilling (9-7 3.27). Birkbeck has good stuff but not much stamina, will be interesting to see how long he can ride the bull named Fumanchu. Blarney draws first blood in the bottom of the 2nd, Greenwell doubles in Murray, 1-0 Bandits. Goldeyes tie it up in the top half of the 4th as Javy Lopez plates McGwire with a double of his own, 1-1. Blarney’s Greenwell takes Schilling deep for a solo shot in the bottom of the 4th, Bandits 2-1. Birkbeck hit the wall in the 5th, surrendering 2 runs off a Dwayne Hosey triple, Goldeyes 3-2.  Z Bandits Bottalico then nails down innings 6-7-8 but Blarney couldn’t score against Schilling. Winnipeg plated a huge run to start the 9th as Karchner looked rusty, Goldeyes 4-2. Curt, with the pen gassed, knew he needed to go DEEP into the game, and boy did he – 8.1. Beck, with but a few bullets in his gun, was able to get the last couple of outs. Series tied 1-1.


W – Curt Schilling (1-0)
L – Mike Birkbeck (0-1)
S – Rod Beck (1)

GAME #3 – David Wells 16-6 (3.12) vs. Tom Glavine 14-11 (3.38)

First game in Winnipeg and the Goldeyes send Tom Glavine (14-11 3.38) to the bump. David Wells (16-6 3.12) has his work cut out in some lefty on lefty action. The crafty Glavine was all that, and more, crushing 10(!) shutout innings on 1 hit and 4 walks. Wells, leaving it all out there, matched Glavine for 8 innings allowing 5 hits. 0-0 after 8 full. Blarney calls on Karchner, who was shaky in game 2, but he is pumped by Wells’ performance and allows just 1 walk in his 2 innings of work. So folks, it’s the end of the 10th and Glavine has just exited to massive applause, all knotted 0-0. Top of the 10th sees Steve Reed get the call for Winnipeg. Mike Bordick leads off with deep drive to left but Jerald Clark tracks it down easily. Darren Fletcher slashes one in the hole but Omar Vizquel ranges, backhand stabs it, and nips the square-wheeled catcher – 2 out. Shawn Green then rips an offering to right center – double! Bandits Manager looks down the bench, and its pinch hitter extraordinaire Todd Haney (.411) filling in for Karchner. Wisely, Haney is granted a free pass, so the baton is passed to Kevin Seitzer with runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 out. Reed delivers a letter high fastball and Seitzer puts a charge into it, towering fly ball to center, Roberts runs in on it – he’s under it – but it pops out of his glove! Green will score. Bandits lead 1-0. Blarney calls on Bottalico to handle egg-faced Bip Roberts, Jerald Clark and Mark McGwire, no easy task. After getting Roberts and Clark to fly out, McGwire earns a well respected walk. Goldeye Pitcher Jeff Shaw trots in from the bullpen to run for Mark. With 2 outs and a man on 1st it’s up to Jeff Manto, and he swings mightily, but just misses with a 65, pop-up to Fletcher. Bandits lead the series 2-1.


W – Matt Karchner (1-0)
L – Steve Reed (0-1)
S – Ricky Bottalico (1)

GAME #4 – Randy Johnson 22-1 (1.59) vs. Jim Abbott 18-8 (3.60)

Goldeyes staff leader in W’s, Jim Abbott (18-8 3.60), takes on Blarney’s Big Unit Randy Johnson, in another lefty on lefty matchup. The Bandit clubhouse is very excited to welcome back Jerome Walton, from the DL, where he has spent the last 15 days. The excitement was short lived as Johnson is torched for 6 runs in only 3 innings of work AND Walton he would be beaned in his first two at bats, the second one injuring his for 5 more days. Winnipeg was rockin’ with a huge 6 run lead after 3 innings (7-1). Abbott was cruising along but ran into some trouble in the 5th as Blarney scores 2, 7-3. With the score 7-3 entering the top of the 7th, Goldeyes Manager let the match burn a little long, and the finger tips get a bit burnt on a 3-run shot to left off the bat of Seitzer. Kevin has been dealing some damage this series. How quickly things have turned as its 7-6 entering the bottom of the 8th. The Blarney pen tossed doughnuts in innings 5-6-7 and game 1 winner Lee Smith entered
his 2nd inning of work. Javy Lopez leading off, hits a chopper back to Smith, who flips it to Herb “Stone Hands” Perry and he can’t handle it, Lopez safe! A benched Bip Roberts takes over running duties for the lead-footed Lopez. Roberts takes off on the 1st pitch, and is safe(!) on a close play, his 2nd steal of the series.  Vizquel flies out and Bret Barberie pinch hits for Frye. Switch hitting Barberie goes lefty and lines one hard to left, scoring the speedy Roberts easily, 8-6.  Jayhawk Owens grabs some wood and hits for Veres and flys out. With 2 out, the ever dangerous Kenny Lofton lines another one hard to left for extra bases, scoring  Barberie, 9-6. And that’s how it would end. Series tied 2-2.


W – Jim Abbott (1-0)
L – Randy Johnson (0-1)
S – Steve Reed (1)

GAME #5 – Mike Birkbeck 2-1 (3.14) vs. Tom Candiotti 16-9 (3.29)

The entire first 3 games, these teams were separated by 1-run nearly all of the innings, and in game 4 the visitors made it a one-run game in the 7th after a huge deficit. Winnipeg fans are buzzing with the thought of, “What will all important game 5 bring to the table?”.

Blarney summons Birkbeck to take on the home squads Candiotti. Winnipeg would plate first, scoring 1 in the bottom of the 2nd, Vizquel driving in Lopez on a close play at the plate. Down 1-0 in the 4th, Blarney has a runner on 2nd with 2 outs, and Jody Reed on deck. Reed is given a free pass bringing Birkbeck up to bat. Bandit Manager chirps something and Birkbeck heads back to the dugout. What’s this? Birkbeck is yanked after just 3 innings of work. Pinch-hit specialist Haney straps on the foil. Every decision is magnified in game 5 and even more so in this tight, hard fought, series. Haney taps the plate and stares down Candiotti. It’s gut check time. Not wanting to load the bases, Candiotti delivers a nice 2-2 slider on the outer corner but Haney somehow flicks it down the right field line, kicking up some chalk. Greenwell and Reed both score, 2-1 Bandits. Fast forward to the bottom of the 5th, Bottalico on the mound for Blarney, 2 out and Clark on 2nd. Owens, pinch hitting for Veres, loops one to the right center gap, scoring Clark. Hosey pinch runs for Owens. Lofton nearly sends to the seats in left, just foul, setting the crowd a buzz. Next pitch, Hosey takes off, and Lofton lines it over 3rd scoring the burner Hosey. Goldeyes lead 3-2 after 5 full. Top of the 7th, Krivda on for Winnipeg, after collecting the first 2 outs easily, Klesko fights off something and finds himself at 2nd with a fluke double to shallow right. Seitzer, with a chance to be a hero yet again, delivers a single over 2nd, scoring Klesko and tying it up 3-3. Eddie Murray singles to right and runners are on 1st and 2nd. Shawn Green, who has been quiet so far today, then takes a Krivda fastball to left center – “Open the window Aunt Minnie, here she comes!” – and Green drills a 3-run oppo field homer and Blarney leads 6-3. Goldeyes would add 1 in the 9th off Mike Hampton, who somehow scattered 6 hits and a walk over the last 3 innings, yet yielded a single blemish. Blarney leads series 3-2.


W – Ricky Bottalico (1-0)
L – Rick Krivda (0 -1)
S – Mike Hampton (1)

GAME #6 – Curt Schilling 9-7 (3.27) vs. David Wells 16-6 (3.12)

Back to Irish Village, home of the Bandits for game 6, and the homies send Wells to face Schilling.

Blarney busts it open early in the 1st on a 2 RBI Murray double. Schilling was rattled as he balked, not once, but twice in the inning. Curt just didn’t seem himself as he was tagged for 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs in just the 1 inning of work. Up 4-0, Blarney pulls Wells to start the 5th after he allows 2 runs in the 4th (2-run homer by Buhner), Bandits lead 4-2 after 4 full. Lee Smith on in relief of Wells, allows Roberts to drive in Frye to make it 3-4 Blarney. Veres tossing for Winnipeg in the 5th and The Bandits score 1 on a Shawn Green solo shot, 3-5 Bandits. Both pens would lock it down after the 5th even though both teams threatened a few times. Blarney takes the series 4-2.


W – Lee Smith (2-0)
L – Curt Schilling (1-1)
S – Ricky Bottalico (2)

Blarney pitching held form allowing a tidy 3.05 ERA and lead offensively by Murray (.350 w/ 3 RBI), Klesko (.333) and Green (.333 w/ 4 RBI). While Seitzer only hit .208 he came up huge with men on base tallying 6 RBI.

Winnipeg’s Clark and Roberts both hit .417, Lopez .313 and Barberie .300. Buhner jacked 3 out and drove in 6 while McGwire just a single solo shot.

The tight series could easily been tipped the Goldeyes’ way.

1996 MWWL
11:00 PM ET