1996 American League Division Series
The 1996 American League Division Series (ALDS), the opening round of the 1996 American League playoffs, began on Tuesday, October 1, and ended on Saturday, October 5, with the champions of the three AL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. The teams were:
- (1) Cleveland Indians (Central Division champion, 99–62) vs. (4) Baltimore Orioles (Wild Card, 88–74): Orioles win series, 3–1.
- (2) Texas Rangers (Western Division champion, 90–72) vs. (3) New York Yankees (Eastern Division champion, 92–70): Yankees win series, 3–1.
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. Had the 1996 ALDS been played under the post-1997 arrangement, then Cleveland (1) would've still faced off against Baltimore (4) and New York (2) would've likewise, still faced off against Texas (3) but would also have had home field advantage.
The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees went on to meet in the AL Championship Series (ALCS). The Yankees became the American League champion, and defeated the National League champion Atlanta Braves in the 1996 World Series.
Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles 
Baltimore won the series, 3–1.
|1||October 1||Cleveland Indians – 4, Baltimore Orioles – 10||Oriole Park at Camden Yards||3:25||47,644|
|2||October 2||Cleveland Indians – 4, Baltimore Orioles – 7||Oriole Park at Camden Yards||3:27||48,970|
|3||October 4||Baltimore Orioles – 4, Cleveland Indians – 9||Jacobs Field||3:44||44,250|
|4||October 5||Baltimore Orioles – 4, Cleveland Indians – 3 (12 innings)||Jacobs Field||4:41||44,280|
Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees 
New York won the series, 3–1.
|1||October 1||Texas Rangers – 6, New York Yankees – 2||Yankee Stadium (I)||2:50||57,205|
|2||October 2||Texas Rangers – 4, New York Yankees – 5 (12 innings)||Yankee Stadium (I)||4:25||57,156|
|3||October 4||New York Yankees – 3, Texas Rangers – 2||The Ballpark in Arlington||3:09||50,860|
|4||October 5||New York Yankees – 6, Texas Rangers – 4||The Ballpark in Arlington||3:57||50,066|
Cleveland vs. Baltimore 
Game 1, October 1 
|WP: David Wells (1–0) LP: Charles Nagy (0–1)
CLE: Manny Ramírez (1)
BAL: Brady Anderson (1), B.J. Surhoff 2 (2), Bobby Bonilla (1)
It was Baltimore's first playoff game since the clinching Game 5 of the 1983 World Series. For the Indians, it was their second consecutive division title. Charles Nagy and David Wells matched each other, but in the wrong way. Brady Anderson's leadoff homer in the bottom of the first gave the Orioles a 1–0 lead. In the top of the second, Manny Ramírez led off with a homer of his own to tie the game. Then B.J. Surhoff's one-out homer gave the Orioles the lead back. In the third, the Orioles added two more runs on an RBI double by Rafael Palmeiro and an RBI single by Cal Ripken, Jr. But Sandy Alomar, Jr. would single home a run and Omar Vizquel would follow with a sac fly that made it a one-run game in the fourth. That made it 4–3 and the Orioles needed to put the game away. With one out in the sixth, the Orioles loaded the bases and chased Nagy out of the game. But his reliever, Alan Embree, made things worse for Cleveland. He allowed a sac fly that made it 5–3, then hit Palmeiro. With the bases loaded, Bobby Bonilla got his only hit of the game: a grand slam which made it 9–3 Orioles. The Indians would threaten in the next two innings but it was all too late. Surhoff would hit another homer in the seventh to seal the deal and the Orioles won their first postseason game in thirteen years.
Game 2, October 2 
|WP: Armando Benítez (1–0) LP: Eric Plunk (0–1) Sv: Randy Myers (1)
CLE: Albert Belle (1)
BAL: Brady Anderson (2)
After a 37 minute rain delay, Game 2 commensed. Veterans Orel Hershiser and Scott Erickson met in this crucial game for the Indians. In the bottom of the first, Kevin Seitzer's error gave the Orioles the lead. In the bottom of the fifth, a Brady Anderson homer, a Cal Ripken, Jr. single, and an Eddie Murray double made it 4–0. But the Indians rallied for three runs in the sixth on a groundout by Seitzer and a two-out, two-run homer by Albert Belle. In the eighth, a misjudged fly ball by Brady Anderson led to the Indians tying the game at four. But in the bottom of the eighth, the Orioles got three runs on a groundout, a sac fly, and an RBI hit by Roberto Alomar. In the ninth, Randy Myers had a 1–2–3 inning for the save.
Game 3, October 4 
|WP: Paul Assenmacher (1–0) LP: Jesse Orosco (0–1)
BAL: B.J. Surhoff (3)
CLE: Manny Ramírez (2), Albert Belle (2)
Game 3 was critical with Cleveland facing elimination. Mike Mussina was sent to the mound against Jack McDowell to try to end the series in Cleveland. The Indians scored first thanks to an error by Bobby Bonilla. In the top of the second, the Orioles managed to load the bases and force home a run when McDowell hit Brady Anderson with a pitch. But a Manny Ramírez homer and an RBI double by José Vizcaíno made it 3–1 in the bottom half. In the top of the fourth, B.J. Surhoff silenced the crowd with a towering three-run homer that gave the Orioles their first lead of the night. But Kevin Seitzer would deliver the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. The game would remain tied until the bottom of the seventh when Albert Belle unleashed a grand slam that broke the game wide open. The Indians added another run on another RBI hit by Seitzer to ensure a Game 4.
Game 4, October 5 
|WP: Armando Benítez (2–0) LP: José Mesa (0–1) Sv: Randy Myers (2)
BAL: Rafael Palmeiro (1), Bobby Bonilla (2), Roberto Alomar (1)
Game 4 saw a rematch of Game 1: David Wells vs. Charles Nagy. In the top of the second, back-to-back homers by Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla to lead off the inning gave the Orioles a 2–0 lead. But Sandy Alomar, Jr.'s two-run single tied the game in the fourth. In the fifth, the Indians broke the tie with an RBI hit by Omar Vizquel. The bats on both sides were now silenced for the first time in the series. In the top of the ninth, José Mesa came on in a save situation and looked to extend the series to a deciding Game 5. However, the Orioles threatened and managed to tie the game with one out left to go. The score was tied 3–3 and it looked like the Indians might win the game in the bottom half with two runners in scoring position and two out for Kenny Lofton. But he struck out to force extra innings. In the top of the twelfth, the Orioles recaptured the lead when Roberto Alomar (who ironically would play for Cleveland later in his career) hit the go-ahead home run. Randy Myers would finish off the Indians and send the Orioles to the 1996 American League Championship Series.
Composite box 
|Total attendance: 185,144 Average attendance: 46,286|
Texas vs. New York 
Game 1, October 1 
|WP: John Burkett (1–0) LP: David Cone (0–1)
TEX: Juan González (1), Dean Palmer (1)
John Burkett took the mound for the Rangers in their first ever postseason game, facing David Cone. The Yankees would get a run in the first on a groundout by Bernie Williams. But the Yankees' luck would run out in the fourth. Juan González smashed a three-run homer to give the Rangers a 3–1 lead. Later in the inning, Dean Palmer's two-run shot made it 5–1. The Yankees would get a run in the bottom half on Mariano Duncan's RBI hit but they would get no more. The Rangers added an insurance run in the sixth on Mark McLemore's RBI single. Burkett would go the distance for the win. He would allow only two runs despite giving up ten hits.
The Rangers' win in Game 1 was their first postseason win in franchise history. They proceeded to lose the rest of the series to the Yankees, and did not win another postseason game until their pennant season of 2010, when they won Game 1 of the ALDS.
Game 2, October 2 
|WP: Brian Boehringer (1–0) LP: Mike Stanton (0–1)
TEX: Juan González 2 (3)
NYY: Cecil Fielder (1)
Game 2 proved memorable as Ken Hill faced 21-game winner Andy Pettitte. In the top of the second, Juan González's second homer of the series gave the Rangers a 1–0 edge. But a pair of defensive double clutches allowed the Yankees to tie the game in the bottom half on Jim Leyritz's forceout. In the third, González hit his third homer of the series, this time a towering three-run shot, to give the Rangers a 4–1 lead. With the Yankees behind once again and the Rangers looking like the better team, they would chip away at their lead. Cecil Fielder's solo shot in the fourth gave the Yankees hope. With the score 4–2 until the seventh, time was running out. But Charlie Hayes lifted a sac fly to make it a one-run game. In the eighth, the Yankees were five outs away from losing when Fielder tied the game with an RBI hit. The game moved to extra innings and the Rangers blew scoring opportunities in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings. They would put their leadoff men on but get nothing. In the twelfth, the Yankees put their first two men on when Hayes laid down a sacrifice bunt. But Dean Palmer made an error on that bunt down the third base line and Jeter managed to score all the way from second base on it and the Yankees walked off in dramatic fashion.
Game 3, October 4 
|WP: Jeff Nelson (1–0) LP: Darren Oliver (0–1) Sv: John Wetteland (1)
NYY: Bernie Williams (1)
TEX: Juan González (4)
Game 3 saw Jimmy Key face Darren Oliver. In the first, Oliver gave up a solo shot to Bernie Williams. That's all the Yankees would be able to muster as Oliver began to settle in. In the bottom of the fourth, Juan González's fourth homer in three games tied the game and earned him the reputation of "Señor October." Then in the fifth, Iván Rodríguez's RBI double gave the Rangers a 2–1 edge. Oliver, along with the Rangers' bullpen, kept the Yankees scoreless until the ninth. The Yankees rallied to tie the game on Williams' sac fly and later in the inning they would take the lead on Mariano Duncan's RBI single. In the ninth, the Rangers put their leadoff man on with a walk. He would advance to third on a sacrifice and a groundout. That put the tying run 90 feet away and the winning run at the plate. But John Wetteland got Darryl Hamilton to strike out to end the game.
Game 4, October 5 
|WP: David Weathers (1–0) LP: Roger Pavlik (0–1) Sv: John Wetteland (2)
NYY: Bernie Williams 2 (3)
TEX: Juan González (5)
Kenny Rogers faced Bobby Witt in the potential clincher. Rogers pitched a scoreless first but in the second the Rangers struck for two on RBI hits by Mickey Tettleton and Iván Rodríguez. In the third, Rogers was replaced by Brian Boehringer. Juan González led off the inning with his fifth homer of the series to make it 3–0. Then an error by Derek Jeter led to another Texas run later in the inning. The Rangers had built a commanding 4–0 lead. But in the top of the fourth, the Yankees scored three runs on two RBI hits and a forceout. Witt's night was also through. In the fifth, the Yankees tied the game at four when Bernie Williams hit a leadoff homer. In the seventh, the Yankees completed a four-run comeback by taking the lead on Cecil Fielder's RBI single. In the ninth, Williams once again provided insurance by hitting his second homer of the game. That made it 6–4 Yankees. In the bottom half, the Rangers put the tying runs on against John Wetteland. But he got Will Clark and Dean Palmer, both potential home run threats, to fly out and strike out to end the game and the series.
Composite box 
|New York Yankees||2||1||0||5||1||0||2||1||3||0||0||1||16||37||2|
|Total attendance: 215,287 Average attendance: 53,822|
- "1996 ALDS - Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - Cleveland Indians vs. Baltimore Orioles - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - Baltimore Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - Baltimore Orioles vs. Cleveland Indians - Game 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - Texas Rangers vs. New York Yankees - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "1996 ALDS - New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers - Game 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.