Ask any Atlanta Braves fan and they will get that warm fuzzy feeling in their stomach they experienced when they witnessed Sid Bream score the game-winning run to win the 1992 National League Championship Series and advance to their second consecutive World Series appearance.
The Atlanta Braves had risen from obscurity in the 1991 season when they won the NLCS against the same Pittsburgh Pirates but came up short to the Minnesota Twins in the World Series. The Braves and Pirates met again for the 1992 National League pennant.
Atlanta took a 3-1 lead in the series but Pittsburgh came back to tie the series at 3 to force another seventh game.
In the deciding game, the Pirates scored first as Alex Cole led off with a walk, advanced to third on a double by Andy Van Slyke, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Orlando Merced. In the sixth inning, Jay Bell scored on a single by Van Slyke which the Pirates took the lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Terry Pendleton led off the ninth inning with a double. David Justice followed with a sharp grounder to Pirates’ second baseman Jose Lind, who misplayed the ball which allowed the runners to reach base at the corners with no outs. Sid Bream was walked on four pitches from Doug Drabek. Drabek was replaced by Stan Belinda. Ron Gant hit a deep fly ball to Barry Bonds which allowed Pendleton to score. Damon Berryhill was walked to load the bases again. Belinda was able to get the next batter, Brian Hunter, to pop out for the second out. Braves’ manager Bobby Cox sent a seldom-used utility player named Francisco Cabrera to hit for Braves’ pitcher Jeff Reardon. Cabrera hit a line drive which allowed Justice to score. Bream was given the green light and scored in a close play at the plate to give the Braves an improbable win.
Unfortunately the Braves went on to lose the World Series to the Toronto Bluejays.
In an interesting tidbit that I read about this game was during Cabrera’s at-bat when he hit a line drive foul before his game-winning hit, Van Slyke and Bonds got into a brief argument as Van Slyke signaled Bonds to move in closer so that Bonds could cut off a potential single and keep the runners from scoring. Bonds gave Van Slyke the finger and refused to move then on the next swing Cabrera lined the pitch which dropped in front of Bonds.
Cabrera played one more season for the Braves and finished his career with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan. He later managed the St. Louis Cardinals’ Dominican League affiliate. He is the only player in Major League Baseball history to win a postseason series with a hit during an at bat in which he could have lost the series with an out.
Bream played for the Braves in 1993 then signed with the Houston Astros in 1994 and seeing limited action as a pinch hitter.
The Pirates never recovered from their loss to the Braves. They would not have another winning season for the next 20 years and did not make another postseason appearance until 2013.
Until 2008, the Braves were the last team to win a seventh game after blowing a 3-1 series lead.
At least for one cool night in October, Braves fans will remember it warmly.