The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 15

Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins

Friday, July 11, 1997 - 7:05pm

HHH Metrodome

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Pre-Game Report
 Cleveland is leading the Central Division and appears to be poised for a return to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins couldn't even beat the MIlwaukee Brewers the other day at County Stadium. I don't think the home field advantage of the "Baggie Dome" will be able help the Twinkies this time.

Stadium Stats - HHH Metrodome

Surface: Astroturf
Capacity: 56,144
Dimensions: Left Field: 343 feet, Center Field: 408 feet, Right Field: 327 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Indian's 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.

Twins Logo

Minnesota Twins

 The Minnesota Twins are known for getting more out of their roster than they deserve. If that proves to be true this season, the Twins could be more difficult to dispatch than a first glance at their roster would permit.

 Like every team in the majors, the Twins will rely on their starting pitchers to lead them to the playoffs. Rick Aguilera, who has battled injuries the past few seasons, will lead the Twins rotation, with off-season addition Bob Tewksbury backing him up. Tewksbury, who is baseball's active leader for fewest walks allowed per nine innings should act as a positive veteran influence on young starters Brad Radke an Frankie Rodriguez, who will fill out the starting battery. The Twins bullpen lacks a definitive closer, or middle reliever and will rely on a combination of Ike Trombley and Eddie Guardado to finish off close games.

 The off-season addition of Terry Steinbach at catcher gives the Twins a proven leader on offense and defense. Joining Steinbach around the infield will be Chuck Knoblauch, who is ready to break his own team record for runs scored following a lucrative contract extension, Paul Molitor, one of the most "intelligent" hitters in baseball, Scott Stahoviak, Pat Mears, and rookie Todd Walker who can focus on his defense as he will bat at the bottom of the order. There will be a hole in center field as a result of the loss of Kirby Puckett to glaucoma, but Rich Becker, Roberto Kelly, and 1995 American League Rookie of the Year Marty Cordova will fill his spikes adequately.

Post-Game Report
 In a non-descript game at a relatively non-descript stadium, the Cleveland Indians came away with a 5-1 victory in front of a small and very quiet crowd.

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 Tri-Cities

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