The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 25

Houston Astros vs. Florida Marlins

Tuesday, August 5, 1997 - 7:05pm

Pro Player Stadium

Miami, Florida

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Pre-Game Report
 One's a division leader, one is chasing a division leader. I think it will be a good game!!

Stadium Stats - Pro Player Stadium

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 40,585
Dimensions: Left Field: 330 feet, Center Field: 434 feet, Right Field: 345 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Astros Logo

Houston Astros

 The Astros suffered one of the most visible late-season collapses in recent memory. After leading their division by two and a half games in late august, the Astros lost twelve road games in a row and finished behind the Cardinals... out of the playoffs. So, during the off-season General Manager Gerry Hunsicker made some major changes, including a 10 player deal with Detroit that brought some fresh faces to the struggling pitching staff.

 The big move from the mound was the off-loading of high salaried disappointment Doug Drabek. Instead, Daryl Kile and Mike Hampton, who combined for 38 victories last season will team with Shane Reynolds and Sid Fernandez to lead the Astros from the mound. In the bullpen, there is a fight between John Hudek, an all-star in 1994, and sophomore star Billy Wagner, for closer. Either way, the Astros have a strong closer -- and possibly even a talented fifth starter. Unfortunately, the Astros lack strong middle relief and will have keep their fingers crossed every time Jose Lima, Ramon Garcia, Donne Wall or Chris Holt takes the mound.

 Offensively, the Astros are still led by all-star infielders Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. And, the addition of 1992 Rookie of the Year Pat Listach should give some welcome relief to Bagwell and Biggio who tired near the end of last season after playing in every single game during the season (as they had in 1992 as well). Luis Gonzalez and Bob Abreu, have been added to the Astros outfield in hopes of providing some pop to the lineup. And, despite hitting a disappointing .263 last season, Derek Bell is ready to lead this team to the playoffs.

Marlins Logo

Florida Marlins

 The Marlins spent $89 million in the offseason to build a team ready to make a run at the playoffs. With the addition of several high-priced players including Moises Alou, Alex Fernandez, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich, the Marlins became instant contenders. But, will Florida be able to come together as a team in time to beat the Atlanta Braves?

 The Marlins have the best starting rotation in their franchise history, with Cy Young runner-up Kevin Brown and all-star Al Leiter leading the way. Off-season pickup Alex Fernandez will be slide nicely into the number three spot and fill out a rotation that can easily challenge the Braves aces down the stretch. The Marlins bullpen, however, lacks the big names that the starting rotation cherishes. The Marlins bullpen continues to be shaky, with Dennis Cook and a slew of young talents acting as a bridge between the starters and the closer. Robb Nen, who had an unbelievable 1996, will once again be the closer.

 The Marlins catcher, Charles Johnson, is the best defensive catcher in the league. He is joined in the infield by Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, potential gold glove winner Bret Conine, and Edgar Renteria, the runner up in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1996. Right fielder Gary Sheffield will use 1997 to build on his MVP caliber year in which he ranked in the top ten in 13 offensive categories, and is joined by Moises Alou, who is stellar on defense and one of the most dangerous right handed hitters in the league. Fighting for the privilege to share the outfield with these two all stars are Joe Orsulak, Tom Cangelosi, and Jim Eisenreich, who has hit over .300 for each of the past four season and may give the young Marlins the leadership they need to make a run at the Braves.

Post-Game Report
 You can't ask for a better ending to an important game than a ninth inning two-run game winning single.

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 Magic City

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