The 1995 American League Division Series (ALDS), the opening round of the 1995 American League playoffs, began on Tuesday, October 3, and ended on Sunday, October 8, with the champions of the three AL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. As a result of both leagues realigning into three divisions in 1994, it marked the first time in major league history that a team could qualify for postseason play without finishing in first place in its league or division. The teams were:
(1) Seattle Mariners (Western Division champion, 79–66) vs. (4) New York Yankees (Wild Card, 79–65): Mariners win series, 3–2.
(2) Boston Red Sox (Eastern Division champion, 86–58) vs. (3) Cleveland Indians (Central Division champion, 100–44): Indians win series, 3–0.
- Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
- Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees
- Game 1, Tuesday, October 3
- Game 2, Wednesday, October 4
- Game 3, Friday, October 6
- Composite box
- Seattle vs. New York
- Game 4, Saturday, October 7
- Game 5, Sunday, October 8
- In popular culture
The higher seed (in parentheses) had the home field advantage, which was not tied to playing record but was predetermined—a highly unpopular arrangement which was discontinued after the 1997 playoffs. Also, the team with home field "advantage" was required to play the first two games on the road, with potentially the last three at home, in order to reduce travel. The Red Sox played the Indians, rather than the wild card Yankees, because the Red Sox and Yankees are in the same division. Had the 1995 ALDS been played under the post-1997 arrangement, then Cleveland (1) would've played against New York (4) and Boston (2) would've faced Seattle (3).
Because of realignment, this was the first time that both the Yankees and the Red Sox reached the playoffs in the same year.
The Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians went on to meet in the AL Championship Series (ALCS). The Indians became the American League champion, and lost to the National League champion Atlanta Braves in the 1995 World Series.
Cleveland won the series, 3–0.
Seattle won the series, 3–2.
Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio
After a 39-minute rain delay, Game 1 got underway with two veterans, Roger Clemens and Dennis Martínez, starting the opener. Playing in its first playoff game since Game 4 of the 1954 World Series, Cleveland trailed early as the Red Sox jumped in front first in the third on John Valentin's two-run homer. With Clemens pitching masterfully against the majors' best lineup, many believed Game 1 might belong to the Sox. The Indians, however, rallied against Clemens in the sixth with a two-run double by Albert Belle that tied the game and a hit by Eddie Murray that scored Belle. But Luis Alicea's eighth inning homer sent the game into extra innings. Tim Naehring would give the Red Sox the lead in the eleventh with a solo homer, but Belle's leadoff homer tied the game in the bottom half. The Indians would put the winning run in scoring position later in the inning but failed to come through. In the bottom of the thirteenth, fifteen-year veteran Tony Peña hit the game winning homer with two outs. It was the Indians' first postseason win since the clinching Game 6 in the 1948 World Series.
Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio
Game 2 featured an unlikely matchup between Erik Hanson and Orel Hershiser. Both pitchers were on even turns until the Indians broke through in the fifth with Omar Vizquel's two-run double. It remained 2–0 until the eighth when the Indians put the game away on Eddie Murray's two-run homer. That gave the Indian bullpen a comfortable 4–0 lead in the ninth. Hanson went the distance in a losing effort. Hershiser struck out seven and allowed only three hits in 7 1⁄3 innings.
Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
Charles Nagy faced postseason veteran Tim Wakefield in the potential clincher. In the top of the second, Jim Thome gave the Tribe the lead with a two-run homer. Then a bases-loaded walk in the third made it 3–0. In the fourth, the Red Sox got a run on a sac fly but in the sixth the Indians looked to put the game away. The Tribe scored five runs in an inning that would be highlighted by Omar Vizquel's two-run single. The Red Sox would get a run on a fielder's choice but Paul Assenmacher would pitch a scoreless ninth to end the series.
1995 ALDS (3–0): Cleveland Indians over Boston Red Sox
Both teams finished the strike-shortened 1995 season with 79 wins. The Seattle Mariners were making their postseason debut on the strength of an amazing divisional comeback. The New York Yankees made it to the postseason for the first time since losing in the 1981 World Series, and the only time with Don Mattingly on their roster, as the AL Wild Card. The series featured at least ten runs per game and two extra-inning games. Ken Griffey, Jr. was the star, hitting five home runs. The total number of home runs from both teams at the end of the series was 22, a record for a postseason series despite only having five games.
Griffey also was one of two key participants in perhaps the most iconic moment ever for Mariners fans, DH Edgar Martínez's two-run double in the bottom of the eleventh inning of Game 5, on which Griffey scored the winning run from first base. The result of the series, and what became known as "The Double", is considered a redemptive moment for long-suffering Mariners fans, and often credited with ensuring that Major League Baseball remained in Seattle.
Seattle's win marked the fourth time in history that an expansion team won its first postseason series, after the New York Mets in their first championship season, in 1969, Montreal in 1981, and San Diego in 1984. Florida and Tampa Bay have since accomplished the same feat.
The format of this series and the one in the NL was similar to that of the League Championship Series prior to 1985, a five-game set wherein the first two games were played at one stadium and the last three at the other. This was much criticized as the team with homefield advantage had its games back ended. At the same time a team with two games often preferred them in the middle as opposed to three straight in the opposing team's ballpark. The highly unpopular format was later abandoned for the present more logical 2–2–1 format. Although the 2-3 format would return in 2012 due to the addition of the Wildcard games, MLB would revert to the 2-2-1 format in 2013.
Even though the Yankees made it to the post-season for the first time since 1981, they were still reeling from the strike, because they had the best record in the American League when it was taken away by it. Yankees Manager Buck Showalter sat in "admitted misery" throughout that fall, as he "ached for Mattingly, the one player he believed deserved a postseason more than anyone else in the game." Mattingly had led active players in both games played and at bats without ever appearing in the postseason then.
Yankee Stadium (I) in Bronx, New York
Don Mattingly finally made it to the postseason in what would be his final games. Chris Bosio faced David Cone in Game 1. The game remained scoreless into the bottom of the third. Wade Boggs stepped to the plate with Randy Velarde on first and sent a two-run homer into the night to make it 2–0 Yankees. But Ken Griffey, Jr. led the top of the fourth off with a homer of his own to cut the lead in half. Then in the sixth, the Mariners managed to load the bases against Cone. Facing Dan Wilson with the count 1-2, Wilson appeared to commit to Cone's next offering. However, on appeal, first base umpire Dale Scott signaled "no swing", continuing the inning and drawing the ire of Yankee fans, in particular Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who went on to say MLB should not allow rookies to umpire in the postseason, despite the fact that Scott had umpired in the postseason since 1986. Still alive, Wilson forced Cone to walk him, tying the game at two, but two RBI singles made it 4–2 Yankees in the bottom half. Griffey's second home run tied the game when he sent one into the bleachers with one man on in the seventh. However, the Yankees put together a four-run seventh inning, which was capped off by a two-run homer by Rubén Sierra. The Yankees added another run but the Mariners refused to concede in the ninth. They put the tying run to the plate after scoring two runs but failed to tie the game with a homer as John Wetteland narrowly recorded the save.
Yankee Stadium (I) in Bronx, New York
In what was, at the time, the longest playoff game in terms of elapsed time, both teams would battle back and forth. Andy Benes and Andy Pettitte would start this classic playoff game. On the strength of a surprising Vince Coleman home run, the Mariners jumped out in front in the third. With the game moving quickly, the Yankees responded with a Bernie Williams RBI double that tied the game in the fifth. Later, the Mariners would take their second lead of the night when Tino Martinez singled home Edgar Martínez in the top of the sixth. However, that lead wouldn't stand as Benes allowed back-to-back homers to Rubén Sierra and Don Mattingly in the bottom half. That would put an end to Benes' night. However, the Mariners would reclaim the lead for the third time with an RBI hit by Luis Sojo and a sac fly by Ken Griffey, Jr. in the seventh, but Paul O'Neill would homer to tie the game in the bottom half of the seventh. The game moved to extra innings and in the twelfth the Mariners recaptured the lead once more with a homer by Griffey, but, in the bottom of the twelfth, the Yankees rallied. With two men on and two outs, Rubén Sierra hit a double that just missed being a game-winning home run by a couple of feet, scoring Jorge Posada with the tying run, but Williams was thrown out at the plate, ending the inning and forcing a 13th inning. Finally, in the bottom of the fifteenth, Jim Leyritz ended the game with a two-run walk-off home run.
The game, which began at 8:10 P.M. Wednesday night, ended at 1:22 A.M. Thursday morning.
Kingdome in Seattle, Washington
It was the first ever Major League Baseball postseason game in Seattle and both teams pitched their best for Game 3. Jack McDowell faced Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson. Johnson allowed a Bernie Williams homer to make it 1–0 Yankees in the fourth. But Tino Martinez's two-run shot made it 2–1 Mariners in the fifth. In the sixth, the Mariners built a commanding five-run lead off a weakened Yankee bullpen. Four straight RBI at-bats sent the Yankees packing. The Yankees would scratch out a run in the seventh on a sac fly but the Mariners would respond with a run of their own on Randy Velarde's error. After back-to-back homers to lead off the eighth, the Yankees were within three runs. But Norm Charlton would shut the door on Game 3, allowing Seattle to win their first postseason game.
Kingdome in Seattle, Washington
Scott Kamieniecki faced Chris Bosio in Game 4. The Yankees came out swinging in the first as they put three runs on the board on a sac fly and a two-run single by Don Mattingly. In the third, the Yanks got two more on Paul O'Neill's two-run homer. Bosio was finished, pitching only two-plus innings. The Yankees were poised to take the series but the Mariners would refuse to go quietly again. In the bottom of the third, Edgar Martínez's three-run homer energized the crowd and gave the Mariners new life. Later in the inning, Luis Sojo's sac fly would make it a one-run game. In the fifth, Mattingly's error allowed the Mariners to tie the game and complete a five-run comeback. Then in the sixth, with Sterling Hitchcock pitching, Ken Griffey, Jr.'s homer gave the Mariners a 6–5 edge. In the eighth, Norm Charlton's wild pitch allowed the Yankees to tie the game at six. John Wetteland was called on to keep the game tied for the Yankees, but he would load the bases with nobody out for Edgar Martínez. Martinez would then hit a grand slam, giving him seven RBIs and the Mariners a 10–6 lead. Then Jay Buhner's homer later in the inning put the Mariners on top 11–6. The Yankees, however, refused to die and scratched out two runs. They would put the tying run at the plate in the person of Bernie Williams, but Williams would fly out to center to set up Game 5.
Kingdome in Seattle, Washington
Andy Benes and David Cone were sent to the mound for the deciding game of the series. Joey Cora hit a solo home run to make it 1–0 Mariners in the bottom of the third. Paul O'Neill hit a two-run home run to make it 2–1 Yankees in the top of the fourth. Jay Buhner's RBI single tied the game in the bottom half. In the sixth, Don Mattingly hit a two-run double that put the Yankees in front 4–2. In the bottom of the eighth, with five outs to go and Cone still pitching, Ken Griffey, Jr. homered to make it a one-run game. The Mariners loaded the bases later in the inning and with Doug Strange at bat, Cone walked in a run to tie the game at four. Both teams blew chances in the ninth with two men on to score the potential series winning run. Starters Jack McDowell and Randy Johnson came in the game in rare relief appearances in extra innings. The game moved to extra innings and in the top of the eleventh, Randy Velarde singled home pinch runner Pat Kelly to put the Yankees up by one and three outs away from advancing to the next round. But Cora dragged a bunt down the first base line that stayed fair in the bottom half to lead things off. Griffey singled to put runners on first and third. Then, Edgar Martínez lined a double to left field, scoring both Cora and Griffey to send the Mariners to the 1995 American League Championship Series. Martinez's game-winning hit has become the Seattle Mariners' most famous moment. During Seattle's playoff run, there were rumors the team might relocate. The Mariners' success in 1995 led to renewed fan interest in the team and the building of their new Stadium—Safeco Field.
Until 2011, this was the only LDS Game 5 to go into extra innings.
1995 ALDS (3–2): Seattle Mariners over New York Yankees
The song "My Oh My" by Seattle-based rapper Macklemore in conjunction with his partner Ryan Lewis, features a call of Game 5 by the late Dave Niehaus, simply known as The Double. It is written to honor the memory of Niehaus.