The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 24

Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers

Friday, August 1, 1997 - 7:05pm

The Ballpark in Arlington

Arlington, Texas

Pre-Game Report
 Two struggling teams -- the Rangers lagging in the AL West while the Indians are trying to hold on to their AL Central Division Lead. Let's get ready to rumble.

Stadium Stats - The Ballpark in Arlington

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 49,178
Dimensions: Left Field: 332 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 325 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Indians Logo

Cleveland Indians

 The defending Central Division champions are not the same team that went to the World Series two years ago, or even the same team that lost to the Orioles in the first round of the playoffs last season. Albert Belle, the power center of the Indians lineup now resides in Chicago, Carlos Baerga, the Indians former designated hitter was traded last July, and Eddie Murray was traded to Anaheim. Still, the Cleveland Indians are expected to challenge for the American League pennant.

 For the past two years, the Indians starting rotation held opposing batters to the lowest ERA in the league. This year, Charles Nagy will lead a staff that includes Jack McDowell, Orel Hershiser and Chad Ogea, who has turned into a strong fourth starter. Nagy led the team last season with 17 wins, his best production in three season, and appears to be regaining much of his previous dominance. And, while both Hershiser and McDowell have struggled in previous years, they can consistently dominate late into games. As for the bullpen, Eric Plunk, Mike Jackson, Paul Assenmacher, and Alan Embree give manager Jim Hargrove dozens of combinations for middle relief, and Jose Mesa has come away from his legal troubles unscathed and is ready to lead the Indians to the playoffs.

 As for the offense, the Indians have a new power leader in David Justice, who was traded early in the season for Kenny Lofton. Along with Matt Williams, and a core of strong hitters including Jim Thome, Chad Curtis and Julio Franco, this team will produce offensive stats that make up for the off-season departures. Finally, the combination of free-agent Tony Fernandez and three time gold glove winner Omar Vizquel in the infield will keep hitters from advancing past first and produce scores of double plays.

Rangers Logo

Texas Rangers

 The Rangers have every reason to believe they can repeat as division champions, if not make a run at the World Series. In 1996, they won 90 games and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. And, in 1997, most of their starting lineup has returned, the starting rotation is one of the strongest in the American League, and the management went out and signed one of the league's most dominant closers to their bullpen.

 The Rangers will have all five starting pitchers back in 1997. Ken Hill is the ace and a Cy Young candidate. John Burkett is not far behind filling the number two spot in the rotation. Darren Oliver could be a big winner if he can find his control, and Roger Pavlik and Bobby Witt combined won 31 games last season. The big addition to the team is former Yankee closer, and World Series superstar John Wetteland. Wetteland has 179 saves over the past five seasons and has converted 50 or his last 54 regular season save opportunities.

 The offensive and defensive staple of the Rangers, Ivan Rodriguez, also happens to be the best catcher in the American League. Rodriguez, who hit .300 and scored 116 runs last season joins Benji Gil, Will Clark, and Dean Palmer, who hit 38 homers with 107 RBI's last season in a very strong infield. Damon Buford and Rusty Greer, who despite being only 23, has seven game winning hits over the past two seasons, join Juan Gonzalez, the defending American League MVP, in the outfield. Gonzalez, assuming he can stay healthy, will prove to everyone that he is one of the league's premier power hitters and could easily hit fifty homeruns.

Post-Game Report
 The state is BIG, the Ballpark is BIG, and the dissapointment in the Rangers loss was even bigger.

Check out all the details here, including my impressions of the stadium, batting practice, the team management I met, being up in the press box, the food, and the game and the fans

Highlights from the Big D (Dallas)

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