Earlier today, I was thinking about how the Florida Marlins have often been at the center of fatal screwups for teams. Here is a list of a few of such screwups:
In 2007 and 2008, the Mets' playoff hopes were crushed on the last day of the season. In both years, the last team they played was the Florida Marlins.
In 2003, the Giants won 100 games, they were defeated in four games in the NLDS by, you guessed it, the Florida Marlins.
Same year, fast forward to the NLCS. The Cubs had a 3-1 lead and looked like they might finally win a pennant for the first time in 60 years. They were two-hit in Game 5 by Josh Beckett.
Game 6, going in to the top of the 8th, they led 3-0. Could they pull it together?
No. A comedy of errors, wrapped around the Steve Bartman catastrophe, led to the Marlins scoring eight runs that inning, winning Game 6, and later taking Game 7 as well.
In the World Series, the Marlins faced the 101-win mighty Yankees. The Marlins won in six games, the final game being a five-hit shutout by the aforementioned Beckett.
Let's go back even further, to 1997. After sweeping the Giants in the NLDS, the Marlins faced the 101-win Braves and their legendary pitching, who had won four of the last five NL pennants.
The Marlins won that series in six games, managing to get to the Braves' star pitchers repeatedly. They were then pitted in the World Series against a Cleveland Indians team containing the likes of Jim Thome, David Justice, Manny Ramirez, and Matt Williams.
The series was tied 1-1 heading into Game 3. The game was a slugfest early, tied at 7-7 going into the top of the 9th inning.
In that 9th inning, the Marlins put up seven runs. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians put up four, which obviously was not enough. The Marlins won 14-11, somehow outhitting one of the greatest hitting teams ever assembled. The Marlins took a 2-1 series lead.
The Indians took two of the next three games, sending the series to a decisive seventh game. The Indians had a 2-1 lead over Florida going into the bottom of the 9th. They brought in two-time All-Star Jose Mesa, who had a 2.40 ERA that year, to try and seal the deal.
Mesa immediately gave up a single to Moises Alou. After Bobby Bonilla struck out, Charles Johnson stepped up to the plate. Johnson singled, sending Alou to third. The next batter, Craig Counsell, hit a sacrifice fly that scored Alou, tying the game.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 11th inning, still tied up at 2-2. Charles Nagy had replaced Mesa on the mound. Bonilla singled to start off the inning. Gregg Zaun then popped out on a bunt attempt.
Counsell now stepped up again. He hit a ground ball to the normally decent defensive second baseman Tony Fernandez. Fernandez botched the play though, and everyone was safe, Bonilla moving to third. Jim Eisenrich was intentionally walked to load the bases and Devon White grounded out, forcing Bonilla out at home.
This sent up Edgar Renteria. Nagy threw the first pitch to Renteria, a strike. The second pitch by Nagy though, was disastrous.
Renteria hit it past the shortstop and into left field. Counsell scored.
The Marlins were World Series champions.
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