The 1992 World Series was lost at the trading deadline. The Braves were in desperate need of a closer, having lost Alejandro Pena to injury. JS took a flier on 1989 NL Cy Young Award winner Mark Davis, whom he had signed to a $14 million contract in 1990 while still GM of the Royals. But Davis was no better in Atlanta than he was in KC.
The best closer available, Rangers right-hander Jeff Russell, ended up in Oakland, part of the Jose Canseco-Ruben Sierra blockbuster. JS settled for 36-year-old Jeff Reardon, who was starting to show his age, posting a 4.25 ERA and 1.417 WHIP for Boston.
The former Twins and Expos closer appeared to have discovered his old form down the stretch and in the NLCS, allowing just 2 ER in 18-2/3 IP. Then, in Game 2 of the ’92 World Series with the Braves up 4-3 and just one inning shy of grabbing a 2-0 series lead, Ed Sprague took Reardon deep, giving the Jays a 5-4 win.
Two nights later, Reardon came in with the bases loaded and 1 out in a 2-2 game in the 9th. But after getting ahead 0-2, Reardon grooved a fastball that Candy Maldonado lined into center for the winning run. He wouldn’t pitch again for the Braves, who lost 2-1 in Game 4.
Facing elimination, the Braves entered the 5th inning of Game 5 tied at two. Jack Morris needed just five pitches to get the first two outs before giving up a single to Otis, who then stole second. Up to the plate stepped Deion Sanders, who had replaced a struggling Ron Gant in LF against right-handers. Prime Time was a true weapon in ’92, hitting .304 with a .841 OPS, 26 SB and a league-best 14 triples.
He was even better in the Fall Classic, going 8-for-15 with 5 steals. Deion recorded his only RBI of the series off Morris, singling home Otis to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. But the big blow belonged to another Braves left fielder. A Pendleton double and intentional walk to Justice brought up DH Lonnie Smith with the bases loaded. Lonnie, the goat of Game 7 of the ’91 Series, exacted his revenge.
That’s all the runs Smoltzie and Mike Stanton, who pitched three scoreless innings for the save, would need as the series returned to Atlanta.
It would end two nights later thanks to a two-run double by Dave Winfield off Charlie Leibrandt, pitching his last game as a Brave.