The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 17

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies

Tuesday, July 15, 1997 - 1:05pm

Coors Field

Denver, Colorado

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Pre-Game Report
 The Rockies and Dodgers are in a heated race for the NL West division title. But both teams (especially the Rockies) have struggled lately and don't appear to have what it takes to make a real run. But, that doesn't mean they won't battle it out here.

Stadium Stats - Coors Field

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 50,249
Dimensions: Left Field: 350 feet, Center Field: 415 feet, Right Field: 347 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Dodgers Logo

Los Angeles Dodgers

 The Los Angeles Dodgers will take the field this season for the first time in twenty years without Tommy Lasorda at the helm. But, Lasorda left behind a team full young talent that is not only expected win the National League West, but is predicted by many to challenge for the World Series title.

 The International House of Pitchers, including Ramon Martinez, Hideo Nomo, Ismael Valdes, Pedro Astacio and Chan Ho Park produced a major league low 3.46 ERA last season. The ace is Martinez, having gone 44-20 over the past three years, Nomo is coming off a 16-11 season (including his first no-hitter), and Valdes is 31-19 in his short major league career. The others, including Tom Candiotti, who hasn't had a winning season since 1990, will pitch better as a result of the successes in front of them and round out the starting battery nicely. In the bullpen, Todd Worrel is the No. 1 man, producing 76 saves over the past two seasons. He is expected to be set up by a combination of Mark Guthrie, Darren Dreifort, Scott Radinski and Antonio Osuna.

 In the field, the Dodgers add some new veteran talent to a strong young lineup. Third baseman Todd Zeile hit a career high in homeruns last season and is expected to fit in nicely with powerful catcher Mike Piazza and first baseman Eric Karros, who is coming off a record year with 34 homeruns. In the outfield, Raul Mondesi will join Brett Butler, whose emotional battle with cancer has inspired the entire Dodgers squad. And, rounding out the roster will be young talents Chad Fonville, Juan Castro, Jeff Berlinger, and Wilton Guerrero, any of which could become the next Dodger superstar.

Rockies Logo

Colorado Rockies

 The Colorado Rockies lack the pitching talent needed to be contenders in the National League West. Of course, this is often hard to blame on the pitchers themselves due to the mile-high air of Coors Field. Still, 1995 Manager of the Year Don Baylor will have to muster all of his considerable managerial talents if he expects to turn this offensively weighted team in to a balanced threat in the National League.

 Over the past five years, no team has spent more draft picks on pitching than the Rockies. But, young starters Mark Thompson, Jamey Wright, Bryan Rekar and John Thompson are still a season or two from major league success. So, the Rockies are forced to rely on Kevin Ritz, a mediocre talent by most standards, and Bill Swift, who is in the final year of his contract, to lead the starting rotation. Luckily, the Rockies have a solid bullpen, including Bruce Ruffin, Mike Munoz, and Jerry DiPoto. Assuming the role of closer will be Curtis Leskanic, who is coming off of elbow and shoulder surgery.

 The powerful Rockies outfield, including Larry Walker, Ellis Burks, and Dante Bichette are expected to hit on all cylinders and lead the lineup. But, the "big three" have each struggled over the past two seasons and have been a disappointment. First baseman Andres Galarrage and third baseman Vinny Castilla are consistent hitters, but will do most of their damage at Coors Field. So, the Rockies will look to Eric Young, the team's principal stolen-base threat and Walt Weiss, the team's best clutch hitter, to bring consistency to the otherwise erratic lineup.

Post-Game Report
 The Dodgers stole one from the Rockies and sent the home town heroes to their 11th loss in 12 games.

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 Mile High City

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