1996 – AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD ROUND
Corktown Bootleggers @ Fort Worth Panthers
| Fort Worth (115-47) wins 115 games but is still forced to host
a wild card series against a powerful hitting Corktown (100-62) club.
|GAME #1 – Steve Traschel 18-10 (3.38) vs. Hideo Nomo 22-5 (2.57)
The Panthers were forced to sit ace Kevin Brown because he started game 162 while going for the AL West crown. (Fell 1 game short to California) So it was Hideo Nomo 22-5, 2.57 on the bump for the home team facing Steve Traschel 18-10, 3.38
T1- Alex Rodriguez got things going for the Bootleggers with a solo shot. that was just the beginning of Nomo’s nightmare. 6 of the next 7 batters reached for Corktown including a costly error. (2 runs scored after that)
T2- Almost a repeat of inning 1 as the Panthers struggled to get batters out. Another big error, which resulted in 3 more runs for Corktown including a 2 run shot from Brian Jordan. Would an 8-1 be enough? This is the 1996 season.
B3-(8-1 Corktown).Rich Aurilia kicks things off by reaching on an error from Jason Giambi. John Mabry and Edgar Martinez fill the bases with base hits each. (8-1, 1 out). Traschel hits Fred Mcgriff making the score 8-2. Gary Sheffield keeps the rally going with a 2 run double. Pudge Rodriguez wants to join the hit parade and hits a gapper scoring Martinez, however, Sheffield was thrown out at the plate by Ellis Burks. The crowd was not pleased with the call at the plate. After only 3 innings it was 8-5 Corktown.
Both teams exchanged runs in the 5th to make the score 9-6
B6- Steve Trachsel still in the game for Corktown gets the first 2 batters without a problem. Willie Mcgee hits a bloop single. Corktown pulls Trachsel to get a lefty-lefty matchup, but the Panthers counter with Robert Perez to hit for John Mabry. Perez hits one to right putting runners on the corners. With the score 9-6 (2 outs) the tying run is standing at the plate. Corktown loses patience and is forced to go to their setup man Roberto Hernandez. This brings up the meat of the Panther lineup. Edgar Martinez walks to load the bases. Tying run at 1st. Its Fred Mcgriff with 2 down and the bases loaded down 3. Mcgriff gets a hold of it, but Brian Jordan chases it down and makes what can only be pictured in my mind as a Willie Mays over the shoulder catch for the final out.
B9 9-6 Corktown. The Bootleggers opt not to use their closer to start the inning and that was a quick mistake gifted to Fred Mcgriff who actually gets all of it this time. The solo shot makes it 9-7 and Troy Percival makes his way to the mound to close it out. Gary Sheffield walks. (0 out 1 on 9-7). Percival gets Pudge and Bobby Higginson and Kevin Elster retired to end game 1.
|GAME #2 – Ramon Martinez 9-8 (5.62) v. Donavon Osborne 13-9 (3.33)
T3-The Panthers continue to have trouble with the Bootlegger bats. It was Alex Rodriguez and Albert Belle with back to back doubles (3-0). With 1 out Mark Johnson added another RBI base hit giving Corktown an early 4-0 lead.
B3- Ramon Martinez struggled throughout the season and Fort Worth was looking for that jolt. After a wild pitch scored Rondell White, Edgar Martinez adds another with an RBI double. (4-2 Corktown)
B4- (1 out) Bobby Higginson and Kevin Elster both get their first hits on the series back to back. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, it was Rich Aurilia and a broken-bat bloop that scored both runners to tie the game. Rondell White hit into a double play to follow but, the Fort Worth crowd finally has something to cheer about as the faith has been restored…..Temporally
T5- Alex Rodriguez led off with his 2nd double of the game, and. Ellis Burks drove him in to regain a 5-4 lead.
B5- A golden opportunity for Ivan Rodriguez facing Heathcliff Slocumb with the bases loaded and 1 out. Pudge hits a chopper to the pitcher who cuts off the tying run at the plate. With 2 down Higginson pops it up. Cameras catch Pudge smashing a bat on the dugout stairs as he gets equipped to start the 6th inning.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, too many opportunities like that were blown in this short series. And the crowd watched this 115 win team fall apart at the beginning of game 1, and had a really tough. time gaining its footing. Brian Jordan added his 2nd HR of the series in the 6th (2-run) chasing Osbourne out of the game. Corktown would add 4 more runs scattered in the 7-9th. The Bootlegger offense was able to do what was needed in a short series.
|Summary – Corktown wins the series 2-0. Again, it was early mistakes for the Panthers that allowed a great hitting team to capitalize in the short series. The Bootleggers will move on to face California in the Divisional round.|