The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 26

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves

Thursday, August 7, 1997 - 7:40pm

Turner Field

Atlanta, Georgia

Pre-Game Report
 It's the Braves. They are the best team in Baseball this decade, they play in one of the best stadiums in the game, and they don't let anyone win on their turf. But, the Cardinals picked up "Big Mac" and are making a run at the title. Could be interesting.

Stadium Stats - Turner Field

Surface: Prescription Athletic Turf (PAT Grass)
Capacity: 49, 831
Dimensions: Left Field: 335 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 330 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Cardinals Logo

St. Louis Cardinals

 After winning just 62 games in 1995, the Cardinals captured their first National league Central Division title in 1996. While many teams made changes to their rosters throughout the off-season, the Cardinals lineup remained almost identical. So, it is not surprising that the leadership of manager Tony Larussa, is expected to lead the Cardinals to a repeat of their division title.

 The Cardinals have the most solid-four man rotation in the National League. Andy Benes, Alan Benes, Todd Stottlemyre and Donovan Osborne each won at least 13 games last season and come back even stronger and more experienced following playoff victories against the Padres and Braves. And, looking to fill the fifth spot will be Danny Jackson, who without injury and illness would not have lost his number one spot in the rotation. The Cardinals Bullpen, with the addition of left-handed middle reliever Lance Painter becomes even stronger now that it can rely on Rick Honeycutt and Tony Fossas for short relief. And, veteran closer Dennis Eckersley, in his last big league season, will look to lead this team towards a title.

 In addition to strong pitching, the Cardinals have the fastest team in the National League. Delino DeShields and Royce Clayton, each good for at least 30 stolen bases will be joined in the infield by veteran Gary Gaetti, who shows little sign of slowing down and was the team's most consistent hitter in 1996. And, outfielders Ron Gant, Ray Lankford, and Brian Jordan are all potential members of the 30/30 club.

Braves Logo

Atlanta Braves

 The Atlanta Braves, still stinging from last year's loss to the New York Yankees in the World Series, are AGAIN primed for a run at the title. Their team changed little from last season, and the addition of a new stadium in Atlanta has energized the fans for this year's pennant chase.

 Once again, the best starting rotation in baseball is in Atlanta. Cy Young winners Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, along with Denny Neagle continue to baffle National League batters and pave the way to the playoffs. And, the once overlooked Braves bullpen has been restuctured to include Bryan Harvey, and Mike Bielecki as the set up men for Mark Wohlers, who is always ready to shut the dooron opposing hitters.

 Unfortunately for opposing teams, the Braves dangers do not reside solely on the mound. The Braves lineup is as potent as ever, including veteran slugger Fred McGriff (the "crime dog") consistent producers Jeff Blauser and Mark lemke. The Brave barely feel the loss of David Justice, with exciting young superstars Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko and Andruw Jones leading the way. Finally. the addition of Kenny Lofton, the pre-eminent leadoff hitter in all of baseball only adds speed to the already quick lineup and gives the 2, 3 and 4 hitters someone to bring home.

 Opposing managers are shaking in their cleats every time the Braves take the field.

Post-Game Report
 The players that were left standing put on a quite a show -- something that was needed on a night when my car broke down and may need major repairs (not to mention the mental anguish of my pal).

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

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