The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 14

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

Thursday, July 10, 1997 - 1:20pm

Wrigley Field

Chicago, Illinois

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Pre-Game ReportThe Cubs struggled in the first half of the season while the Cardinals put themselves in position to win the division. But, this has always been a big rivalry and the Cubs would like nothing more than to start the second half of the season off with a victory. I think the Cubbies just might have a good shot at this one -- next stop the playoffs!!

Stadium Stats - Wrigley Field

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 38,765
Dimensions: Left Field: 355 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 353 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Cardinals's 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.

Cubs Logo

Chicago Cubs

 The Chicago Cubs have a knack for losing close games. Without a strong closer in 1996, the Cubs dropped 34 of 55 one run games while their bullpen converted only 68 percent of save opportunities. But, the off-season addition of Mel Rojas will make a huge impact and the Cubs are expected to challenge the Cardinals in baseball's weakest division.

 Leading the Cubs starters will be Kevin Tapani, who has averaged 13 wins in each of the past seven seasons. Frank Castillo, who is capable of a low ERA, Terry Mulholland, who had recent successes with both the Phillies and Mariners, and Steve Traschsel, the Cubs' only all-star in 1996, will fill out the starting rotation. The bullpen will rely on Terry Adams, one of last year's most successful rookie relievers, and Turk Wendell, who still brushes his teeth between innings to get the licorice out, to set the stage for Rojas. And, Rojas will be expected to fill the shoes of former closer Randy Myers by converting a minimum of 90 percent of his saves.

 Offensively, the Cubs will rely on Sammy Sosa and Brian McRae for run support. McCrae finished sixth in the league in steals and also led the Cubs in runs while Sosa led the league in homers before missing the end of the season due to a broken bone in his hand. First Baseman Mark Grace won his fourth gold glove last season but struggled at the plate and rookie Kevin Orie is coming off a wonderful season in the Arizona Fall league but has no major league experience. So, the Cubs will hope that Rey Sanchez can find his swing, and Shawn Dunston can avoid injury if they are to make a run at the division title.

Post-Game Report
 On a beautiful day at the Friendly Confines, the Cubs blew a game to the Cardinals and started their second half like they played their first. Click here to get all the details. . .

Highlights from the Windy City

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