That’s all the Cleveland Indians could muster against Greg Maddux, the Atlanta Braves ace who pitched a masterful nine innings in his first World Series appearance on a chilly Saturday night in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
The Braves won, too, 3-2.
The only damage against Maddux was inflicted early, when Lofton reached on Rafael Belliard’s error, stole second and third, and scored on a groundout, and late, this time on a throwing error by Fred McGriff that allowed the Indians center fielder to scoot home.
But after Carlos Baerga fouled off a trio of pitches with two out in the ninth, Maddux enticed him into another foul pop, this one caught and clutched by a jubilant Chipper Jones mere feet from the visitors dugout.
Besides allowing only two hits, he struck out four, walked none. Of his 95 pitches, 63 were strikes.
Nothing to it, right? Just another Maddux special?
If he was unsettled by the opening sequence, the rare bobble by Belliard, he concealed it well. He retired the Indians in order in the second, third, fourth, six, seventh and eighth innings, repeatedly induced routine ground balls and slow dribblers, and benefited from several stellar defensive plays, his own included.
Three times, Maddux smothered sharp comebackers and threw out hitters.
The Atlanta Braves celebrate after beating the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in Game 1 of the World Series Saturday, Oct. 21, 1995, in Atlanta. The Braves take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. (Hans Deryk/AP)
But it was second baseman Mark Lemke, an annual contender for the Gold Glove award (according to Braves manager Bobby Cox, Lemke has been robbed of the honor the previous three seasons), who produced the Braves' defensive gem of the evening.
After Orel Hershiser grounded to third and Maddux threw out Lofton, Omar Vizquel ripped a fastball into the hole between first and second. Lemke, reacting quickly and sliding to his left, smothered the one-bounce line drive with a diving stab. He then leaped up and rifled a throw to McGriff in time to beat Vizquel.
The two hits?
The first was a solid single to left by Thome in the fifth, with one out. But Maddux promptly struck out Manny Ramirez and retired Sandy Alomar on a one-hopper to Lemke.
Then, in the ninth, after Paul Sorrento grounded to Lemke, Lofton again was the culprit, this time with a single. He went to second and continued to third as Vizquel grounded to Lemke, and scored when McGriff’s throw got past Jones.
With the exception of Albert Belle’s deep fly to right that sent David Justice backpedaling within three or four feet of the wall, and another one-bounce drive from the left fielder that Jones snared at third, the Indians were baffled by the three-time Cy Young winner.
Typically mixing his fastball with tantalizing off-speed pitches near the edges of the plate, Maddux was masterful. Had he ever been better? Never in the postseason. Never in a game of this stature.
As he has said time and again, he spurned the Chicago Cubs after the 1992 season for the Brave new world of postseasons. So this was his night.
Game 2: Javy Lopez puts Atlanta in command