Welcome back to the Greatest Moments in Marlins History. Rookies always seem to be a big part of Marlins’ runs. Any time a rookie comes to the Marlins he has big shoes to fill because of great past Marlin rookie performances. 1997 is a great source for this. 1997 saw the outstanding rookie performance of Livan Hernandez. In his rookie year he won the NLCS and World Series MVPs. One reason he won the NLCS MVP is moment 11. We take you to October 12, 1997 and Livan’s 15 strikeout performance during game 5 of the NLCS.
On October 12, 1997 in front of 51,000 plus screaming Marlins fans Livan took the mound for his first career playoff start. His very first batter hit a triple on Livan’s second pitch. He would walk the next batter and already he had two runners on with no outs to start the game. This didn’t seem to bother Livan at all. He would sit the next batter with his 1st strikeout of the game. Following that he sat the next batter down too. Finally, to finish off the inning, the next batter would watch strike 3 go into the catcher’s glove. Three strike outs in a row for Livan, and he wasn’t done yet.
In the 2nd inning Livan gave up a home run to start the inning off, but for the third out he would strike out the opposing pitcher for strike out number 4. Livan had a better showing in the 3rd inning as he struck out the first batter he faced for strikeout number 5. What’s this? How did he do in the 4th? Well he added to his strikeout count by striking out his 6th victim looking on a 3-2 count. He kept it going in the 5th as he struck out the first batter he faced. So far 7 batters have gone down on strikes. The 6th inning would add 2 more batters to this list as they both went down swinging. 9 batters down and only 3 innings left. Could he crack double digits?
The 7th inning comes up and the batters still didn’t have an answer for Livan’s pitches. The first batter Livan faced went down swinging on a 2-2 count, getting Livan into the double digit strikeout count. We are not done yet. The next batter would go down looking on a 1-2 count. 11 batters down by strikeout! On to the 8th inning, which looked a lot like the 7th but in reverse. The first batter looked at strike 3 and the second batter swung and missed strike 3. 13 strikeouts, could Livan set the record? We go into the 9th inning. First batter up didn’t stay up there too long as he went down swinging after only 3 pitches! Livan is now 1 strikeout away from the NLCS strikeout record. The next batter Livan faced lined it back to Livan for the out. With one batter left to set the record, Livan was ready. The first pitch was a called strike, the second pitch a ball, the third pitch was swinging strike and Livan was 1 strike away from the record. Fourth pitch was a ball, fifth pitch was fouled off, and the sixth pitch was a ball. On a full count Livan set up and let it rip for strike 3 and 15 strikeouts to win the game! A new NLCS strikeout record!
Let’s see, will tomorrow’s moment be another rookie playoff moment? Only one way to find out.