Edgar Renteria got the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. (Photo: ROBERT DEUTSCH, USAT)

Greatest Moments in Marlins History: #3 Game 7 Walk-Off

Welcome back to the Greatest Moments in Marlins History. When you’re an American boy who loves baseball, almost nothing can compare to your team winning the World Series. As a child you sit and watch your team win and lose hoping beyond hope that this will be the year you get to see your team lift up the Commissioner’s Trophy.  It’s almost every young baseball boy’s dream (and most men too). For the Marlins’ first 4 seasons it looked like they would never get that chance.  Then in 1997 they had their chance by making the playoffs. They swept the Giants, beat their NL East rivals the Braves in 6 games, and were on to face the Indians for that Commissioner’s Trophy. So, with out further ado, here is moment 3: Edgar Renteria’s game 7 walk-off to win the World Series!

After a back and forth series with no team ever winning 2 games in a row, we would head back to Miami for the final and deciding game of the Series. After this game, no matter what the outcome, there would be no more baseball until spring. 67,000 plus screaming baseball fans packed Pro Player (I know, I wish it was Joe Robbie still) to see a new champion of baseball crowned. This game would not disappoint…unless you were a Indians fan.

Al Leiter started the Marlins off on the right foot by getting the Indians batters out 1-2-3.  In the bottom of the inning Edgar doubled and Gary Sheffield giving the Marlins runners on 1st and 2nd with only one out. The Indians defense turned a double play to end the inning and the scoring threat. To begin the 2nd inning, Al picked up right were he left off, going 1-2-3 again. Indians wanted their own 1-2-3 inning, so in the bottom they followed suit by getting the Marlins out 1-2-3. The Indians figured Al out in the 3rd inning. Al walked the first batter he faced and then gave up a single to the next batter to have runners on base with no outs. Jaret Wright would lay down a perfect bunt to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd. 2 runners in scoring position with only 1 out for the Indians with Omar Vizquel up to bat. He gave the ball a ride high in the sky to… the shortstop. The Marlins were 1 out away from getting out of this jam. To bad that one out would come 3 batters later. Tony Fernandez singled in the 2 runners and gave the Indians a 2-0 lead. The Marlins had no answer in the bottom of the inning and wouldn’t for a while.

Al calmed down in the 4th, getting 3 outs while only giving up a single. The Marlins had no answer again in the bottom of the inning, going 1-2-3. Al struck out the first batter he faced in the 5th, but gave up a single to the next batter, Omar. Omar stole second, and Al struck out the next batter. Al wanted the force so he gave the next batter a free pass. 2 outs and an out could be at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Omar saw this and stole 3rd. That didn’t phase Al as he struck out the final batter of the inning. The only thing the Marlins could mustard up in the bottom was a walk, after that no more threat. Al came back out in the 6th to go 1-2-3 again; yet the Marlins still had no answer in the bottom of the inning. The Indians are now just 9 outs away from lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time since 1948.

In came Dennis Cook for the Marlins to start the 7th. He started off with a bang, going 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. It’s time for the Marlins bats to come alive or fall to the Indians. Bobby Bonilla was the first to get a shot at that call, and what a shot it would be. On the first pitch that ball went at least 5 row deep over the right field wall to cut the lead to 2-1. That was all she wrote as the Marlins couldn’t get another runner home. The Indians were now 6 outs away. The Indians and the Marlins both went 1-2-3 in the 8th. The Indians were now 3 outs away from the Championship. The Marlins would get in a jam in the 9th with runners at the corner with only one out, but the Marlins had a play at the plate for out number 2 and a pop fly to left field that ended that scoring chance. It was now or never for the Marlins to win the game or send it into extras.

Moises Alou gave the Marlins a lead off single to begin the inning. Bobby, however, struck out putting the Indians 2 out away. Charles Johnson made sure that wasn’t going to happen as he singled to right field and Alou made it all the way from 1st to 3rd. The tying run was now 90 feet away. Up came Craig Counsell. This is why I love small ball. He gave that ball a ride to deep right field, scoring Alou to tie the game up 2-2! The Marlins

Robb Nen gave up a single in the 10th but struck out 3 batters to give the Marlins a chance to win it in the bottom of the inning. The Marlins got close, getting runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, but couldn’t move the runners any further sending the game into the 11th. That didn’t matter to new Marlins pitcher Jay Powell as he went 1-2-3. Bobby once again started the inning off on a good note, singling to center field. The next batter couldn’t move him as he bunt pop fly back to the pitcher. Craig grounded to the 2nd baseman his at bat but the ball bounced out of the glove and into the outfield! Craig was safe at 1st and Bobby made it to 3rd. The winning run was 90 feet away! The Indians walked the next batter to load the bases with only one out. Good move, as Devon White grounded into a fielder choice at home. Up came Edgar. The first pitch was a called strike. Next one wasn’t so lucky for the Indians as Edgar lined that ball right over the pitcher’s glove into center field! In came Craig for the winning run! The Marlins won the World Series! The men in teal were for real!

As a young boy staying up well past my bed time to watch this game was just the greatest feeling for me at that time. It was almost as great as moment 2… but that happened in my adult life.

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