During the 1997 season, no one won more regular season games than the Atlanta Braves. Baseball’s only 100-win team, the Braves finished 101-61.
One team that Atlanta couldn’t figure out, however, was the Florida Marlins. During the regular season, the Marlins went 8-4 against the Braves. That trend continued into the postseason.
On this day 25 years ago, the Marlins opened the National League Championship Series with a 5-3 win over Atlanta in Game 1. In a matchup of aces, Kevin Brown outdueled Greg Maddux.
Both teams were coming off National League Division Series sweeps as they arrived at Turner Field on Oct. 7, 1997. The National League East champion Braves had easily disposed of the National League Central champion Houston Astros. Florida, the NL wild card team, had done likewise against the West’s San Francisco Giants.
In a matchup of All-Star pitchers, the offenses came through early in Game 1. After an error on a ground ball hit by Jeff Conine kept the Marlins first alive, Moises Alou unloaded the bases with a three-run double.
Atlanta would answer back with an RBI single from Fred McGriff in the bottom of the inning, but an RBI groundout from Alou and an RBI double from Charles Johnson in the third gave Florida a commanding 5-1 lead. That’s all Brown would need.
The Braves would manage just three more hits against Brown, but two of them left the yard. After Chipper Jones homered to start the bottom of the third, Ryan Klesko did likewise in the sixth. Brown and Maddux each lasted six innings, but the Florida bullpen was lights out to close the contest.
Dennis Cook, Jay Powell and Robb Nen combined to yield just one baserunner in three hitless innings. Atlanta finished with just five hits. Florida finished with six with Craig Counsell recording two of those and reaching base three times.
Entering the NLCS, Atlanta was the reigning National League champion and had won four of the previous five pennants. The Marlins would go on to take the Braves’ crown en route to their first World Series victory. The series began with a 5-3 victory on this day a quarter-century ago.