On this date in 2003, the Florida Marlins played the longest contest in franchise history.
With a spartan midday crowd of 10,075 on hand at Pro Player Stadium, the 13-12 Florida Marlins played host to the 10-12 St. Louis Cardinals. Marlins starter. Brad Penny started and earned a quality start with 6 2/3 innings of work and two earned runs given up. He allowed three in total, on eight hits and a walk without striking out any batters.
The Redbirds got to Penny early, scoring twice in the top of the first on an Albert Pujols sacrifice fly and an RBI-double from Scott Rolen.
Juan Pierre halved St. Louis’ lead in the third inning, driving in Todd Hollandsworth on an RBI-groundout. The score remained through six innings.
In the top of the seventh, Rolen, Tino Martinez, and former Marlin Edgar Renteria greeted Penny with three consecutive singles, followed by an Eli Marrero sacrifice fly to reestablish the Cards’ two-run lead.
Marrero’s two-run triple in the ninth off Tim Spooneybarger seemed enough to put a cherry on top of the proceedings, and Orlando Palmiero’s bunt-sacrifice RBI made it 6-1, with only a prayer left for the Marlins in the bottom of the inning.
But Florida made it rain, starting with a Ramon Castro (1) long ball to open their ninth. Two batters later, Luis Castillo (1) hit a one-run solo shot to make it 6-3, Cardinals.
Later in the inning, with two outs and Juan Pierre and Ivan Rodriguez on the corners, Mike Lowell smacked his sixth tater of the season to tie the game at six apiece and send things to extra innings. All quotes (subscription required) are courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel April 28, 2003 edition, taken by Juan C. Rodriguez.
"It’s a funny game that way. – Mike Lowell"
Bullpen heroics kept the Marlins into the game into the early evening. Armando Almanza pitched a perfect 10th with two strikeouts, followed by two scoreless frames from Braden Looper. Toby Borland pitched hitless innings number 13 and 14, and Allen Levrault came in for four scoreless to send things to the 19th inning still tied at six.
"I didn’t try to overthrow. Last time I was up here they said I tried to bust the radar gun. I pitched. – Allen Levrault"
Carl Pavano, usually a starter, was called on to pitch the 19th, and got through it despite a leadoff single, thanks to a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play off the bat of Scott Rolen.
After an eventless bottom of the inning, courtesy of Cardinals reliever Steve Kline, Pavano allowed a one-out single to Renteria and a two out single to Mike Matheny to put runners on the corners. Fernando Vina provided the death-stroke with an RBI-single, and Florida’s offense couldn’t find an answer in the slack half of the 20th.
The first pitch was at 1:35PM, and the final out (an Alex Gonzalez flyball to center on a 3-2 pitch) came 627 pitches and over six hours later, at 7:42PM. In between, the two clubs employed a total of 15 pitchers, eight for the Marlins, and emptied their respective benches. The Marlins collective 13-for-66 game put their single-game slash line at .197/.369/.379, thanks to the home runs and 16 walks. Florida’s pitching staff only walked five during that time, and despite Penny’s lack of heat, finished with eight strikeouts in the game.
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Pierre was the only Marlins hitter to finish with multiple hits after a three-for-nine afternoon. He also had a walk and a run.
"All losses hurt, but to play that long and have so many opportunities is frustrating – Florida Marlins manager Jeff Torborg"
Of course, the Florida Marlins, against all odds and against all prognostications, went on to win their second World Championship in their short history. The Cardinals stumbled to an 85-77 record and a third place finish out of the money in the National League Central Division.
Does anyone remember this one? Let me know about it in the comments, and thanks for reading.