1997 National League Division Series
The 1997 National League Division Series (NLDS), the opening round of the 1997 National League playoffs, began on Tuesday, September 30, and ended on Friday, October 3, with the champions of the three NL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. They were:
- (1) San Francisco Giants (Western Division champions, 90–72) vs. (4) Florida Marlins (Wild Card, 92–70): Marlins win series, 3–0.
- (2) Houston Astros (Central Division champions, 84–78) vs. (3) Atlanta Braves (Eastern Division champions, 101–61): Braves win series, 3–0.
The higher seed (in parentheses) had the home field advantage, which was not tied to playing record but was predetermined—a highly unpopular arrangement which was discontinued after the conclusion of the 1997 playoffs. Also, the team with home field "advantage" was required to play the first two games on the road, with potentially the last three at home, in order to reduce travel. Had the 1997 NLDS been played under the post-1997 arrangement, then Atlanta (1) would still have faced off against Houston (3) and San Francisco (2) would likewise have faced off against the wild card winners in Florida (4).
The Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins went on to meet in the NL Championship Series (NLCS). The Marlins became the National League champions, and defeated the American League champion Cleveland Indians in the 1997 World Series.
San Francisco Giants vs. Florida Marlins
Florida won the series, 3–0.
|1||September 30||San Francisco Giants – 1, Florida Marlins – 2||Pro Player Stadium||2:48||42,167|
|2||October 1||San Francisco Giants – 6, Florida Marlins – 7||Pro Player Stadium||3:12||41,283|
|3||October 3||Florida Marlins – 6, San Francisco Giants – 2||3Com Park at Candlestick Point||3:22||57,188|
Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves
Atlanta won the series, 3–0.
|1||September 30||Houston Astros – 1, Atlanta Braves – 2||Turner Field||2:15||46,467|
|2||October 1||Houston Astros – 3, Atlanta Braves – 13||Turner Field||3:06||49,200|
|3||October 3||Atlanta Braves – 4, Houston Astros – 1||Astrodome||2:35||53,688|
San Francisco vs. Florida
Game 1, September 30
| WP: Dennis Cook (1–0) LP: Julián Tavárez (0–1)|
SF: Bill Mueller (1)
FLA: Charles Johnson (1)
Game 1 was a matchup between Kirk Rueter and Kevin Brown. Both pitchers were on even terms, allowing one run and four hits through seven innings. Both teams struck in the seventh with leadoff solo homers by Bill Mueller and Charles Johnson. The game was tied 1–1 in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded, Édgar Rentería singled to right to give the Marlins their first ever postseason win with a walk-off.
Game 2, October 1
| WP: Robb Nen (1–0) LP: Roberto Hernández (0–1)|
SF: Brian Johnson (1)
FLA: Bobby Bonilla (1), Gary Sheffield (1)
Shawn Estes faced Al Leiter in an exciting Game 2. An RBI single by Mark Lewis made it 1–0 Giants in the first. The Marlins would strike back in the bottom half. Bobby Bonilla hit a two-run homer to make it 2–1 Marlins, but a solo homer by Brian Johnson tied the game in the second. Then Barry Bonds hit a sacrifice fly to give the Giants a 3–2 lead in the third. The Marlins tied it in the bottom half with an RBI single by Bonilla. Stan Javier's infield hit gave the Giants the lead back in the fourth. Hits by Alex Arias and Kurt Abbott gave the Marlins the lead in the bottom half. The Marlins would add another run on the strength of a solo homer by Gary Sheffield in the bottom of the sixth. It was 6–4, but the Giants refused to concede. An RBI double by Bonds made it a one-run game in the seventh. The one-run lead would stand into the ninth. With Robb Nen pitching, the Giants managed to tie the game thanks to a key error by Craig Counsell. However, the Marlins would not wait until extra innings to try to win. Sheffield led the inning off with a single; then he stole second. After Bonilla walked, Moisés Alou hit the game-winning single to center field. The ball was scooped up by Dante Powell, whose throw home was in line with home plate, but the ball hit the mound, allowing Sheffield to score easily. This play would be the defining moment of the series, being replayed many times on highlights, as well as mainstream shows such as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The Marlins took the series lead, 2–0.
Game 3, October 3
| WP: Alex Fernandez (1–0) LP: Wilson Álvarez (0–1)|
FLA: Devon White (1)
SF: Jeff Kent 2 (2)
In Game 3, the Giants looked to Wilson Álvarez to keep them alive. Opposing him would be Alex Fernandez, hoping to close out the series. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when Jeff Kent hit a solo home run with one out to make it 1–0 Giants. Later, however, the Marlins would put the series away when Devon White hit a stunning grand slam into the left field bleachers in the top of the sixth. Kent would hit another solo home run in the bottom half, but two RBI doubles by Charles Johnson and Craig Counsell put any hopes of a Giants comeback out of reach. Robb Nen got Damon Berryhill to ground out to end the series. In response to their team being swept, Giants fans littered the field with garbage as the Marlins players celebrated. This was the final MLB playoff game at Candlestick Park. Until 2016, this was the last time the Giants lost a postseason series at home. In their next 7 appearances, including the wildcard tiebreaker in 1998, they either lost the series on the road or won the World Series until finally losing at home in the 2016 NLDS.
|San Francisco Giants||1||1||1||2||0||1||2||0||1||9||22||0|
|Total attendance: 140,638 Average attendance: 46,879|
Houston vs. Atlanta
The Houston Astros finally made it back to the postseason for the first time since the 1986 National League Championship Series. The Atlanta Braves were hosting their first postseason series at Turner Field.
Game 1, September 30
| WP: Greg Maddux (1–0) LP: Darryl Kile (0–1)|
ATL: Ryan Klesko (1)
Game 1 was a matchup between Darryl Kile and Greg Maddux. Kenny Lofton led off the bottom of the first with a double, the first postseason hit at Turner Field. Keith Lockhart flied to right, putting Lofton at third. Then Chipper Jones hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 1–0 Braves in the first. Then Ryan Klesko homered to lead off the second, a homer which would prove to be the game winner. The Astros would strike for a run in the fifth, thanks to an RBI single by Kile. Maddux and Kile dueled for seven innings. Kile allowed only two hits and Maddux pitched a complete game. The Astros left five men on base, a fatal error, as the Braves won 2–1.
Game 2, October 1
| WP: Tom Glavine (1–0) LP: Mike Hampton (0–1)|
ATL: Jeff Blauser (1)
The Astros sent Mike Hampton to the mound against Tom Glavine. The game was quiet through the first 2 1⁄2 innings, but, in the bottom of the third, Jeff Blauser hit a three-run homer to put the Braves ahead. The Astros, however, would tie the game thanks to a two-run double by Brad Ausmus and an RBI single by Mike Hampton that scored Ausmus. The Astros would make a game of it, but only for the moment. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Hampton would surrender four consecutive walks to give the Braves the lead. Hampton would leave, but the bullpen gave up two more runs thanks to a two-run single by Greg Colbrunn. The game would quickly get away thanks to a key error by Jeff Bagwell. The Braves would strike for five in the sixth and two more in the eighth. Glavine pitched six innings for the win as the Braves routed the Astros 13–3.
Game 3, October 3
| WP: John Smoltz (1–0) LP: Shane Reynolds (0–1)|
ATL: Chipper Jones (1)
HOU: Chuck Carr (1)
Game 3 was a battle between John Smoltz and Shane Reynolds. Chipper Jones got the Braves started with a two-out homer to give the Braves a 1–0 lead in the top of the first. An RBI single by Jeff Blauser made it 2–0 in the second, and another RBI single, by Michael Tucker, made it 3–0 in the seventh. John Smoltz pitched brilliantly, allowing only three hits and one run, a solo homer by Chuck Carr, in a complete-game victory. A passed ball allowed one final insurance run to make it 4–1 Braves in the eighth. Bill Spiers grounded out in the bottom of the ninth to end the series.
|Total attendance: 149,355 Average attendance: 49,785|
Their first ever postseason game is a scintillating one, as they win it in the bottom of the ninth two to one!
Here comes the runner home, oh, it hits the mound, the Marlins win! [Gary] Sheffield scores!!!
In the air to left, [Barry] Bonds goes back, Bonds to the track, this ball is a grand slam home run!
And this could do it...[Craig] Counsell...throws him out! The Marlins sweep and the Braves are next!— Bob Costas, calling the final out in Game 3, Florida vs. San Francisco
- "1997 NLDS – San Francisco Giants vs. Florida Marlins – Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1997 NLDS – San Francisco Giants vs. Florida Marlins – Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1997 NLDS – Florida Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants – Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1997 NLDS – Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves – Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1997 NLDS – Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves – Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1997 NLDS – Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros – Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.