Welcome back to the NLCS . In baseball a lot of teams live and die by the long ball. Call me old fashioned, but small ball to me shows the brilliant tactics it takes to win a game. With a bunt to move a runner into scoring position, walking a player to set up a double play, or a sac fly, small ball is great for the game. With that said, I do also love the long ball, especially when it wins my team the game. This brings us to moment 9 (wow we’re in the single digits): Mike Lowell’s pinch hit home run in game 1 of the NLCS.
On October 7, 2003 the Marlins were in for a battle against the Chicago Cubs. This was the first time the Cubs were back in a NLCS since 1989 and the first time the Marlins were back since their World Series Championship in 1997. The stage was set for a battle for the ages. The Cubs would strike first in the 1st, falling a single short of a team cycle for that inning. I’m sure not getting that cycle didn’t bother them too much because they still put up 4 runs to take a early 4-0 lead. The Marlins would answer back in the 4th with a 3 run home run, and 2 solo shots to give the Marlins a 5-4 lead. In the 6thJeff Conine played a little small ball, scoring a run on a sac fly. The Cubs would answer back in the same inning with a 2 run long ball to tie it up at 6-6. The Marlins would take the lead once again in the 9th with a 2 run single by Ivan Rodriguez. In comes Ugueth Urbina to shut the Cubs down.
Urbina would get the first runner out on a grounder to the second baseman. The next batter, however, would double into right field. The next batter would ground out to the third baseman. The Marlins are one out away from taking the first game of the NLCS! They were, until Sammy Sosa (the next batter) lined a ball right over the fence to tie the game. Urbina would get the last out but not until after the damage was done. Off to extra innings.
To start the 10th inning the Marlins went down 1-2-3. Not to be outdone, Urbina sat the Cubs down 1-2-3, too. Why couldn’t he do this in the 9th? Then again, if he did we wouldn’t have this moment- Mike Lowell pinch hitting for Urbina in the 11th. This at bat wouldn’t be that easy for Lowell. The first 2 pitches Lowell saw were balls. The next one was a called strike. Pitch 4 was a ball. The count was 3-1 and Lowell had the green light to swing. He did and he missed. Lowell now had a full count. The fans in Chicago all stood on their feet waiting, cheering, and hoping for that strike 3. The pitch came and was hit, Lowell sent that ball out to dead center field. It was high, and it was gone! A solo shot and the Marlins take the lead 9-8! That is all the Marlins needed because in the bottom of the inning the Cubs went down 1-2-3. The Marlins win 9-8 thanks to Lowell’s pinch hit home run!
I’m not done with long balls from 2003. Join me tomorrow and see which long ball is moment 8.