DeFranks: Marlins end season with flair (Oct. 1)
Matthew DeFranks | Monday, September 30, 2013
The last play of the Miami Marlins’ season was a wild pitch.
That’s not too surprising since the Marlins lost 100 games this season and posted the worst record in the National League. But it wasn’t Miami that threw the ball to the backstop, it was the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers.
And it wasn’t just any wild pitch – it was a walk-off, no-hitter-clinching wild pitch on the final day of the season for a team with both the second-worst record and attendance in baseball.
Sound crazy enough? Well, Henderson Alvarez’s no-hitter Sunday afternoon was the first one to ever end in a wild pitch. It was the first one since 1952 to end in walk-off fashion and it was just the fourth one to occur on the final day of the season.
Entering the game, Alvarez was nine games below .500 and had only pitched one complete game in his three-year career that began in Toronto. He only had four wins on the year (more a reflection on Miami’s sorry excuse for a lineup than on Alvarez) while teams were hitting around .300 against him.
To say this was unexpected would be a slight understatement.
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing for the Marlins is that it had to come to a walk-off wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning in the last game of the season to have something to celebrate about. In fact, the Marlins are selling unsold tickets to the game to people who wanted collectable items from a game they never went to, which makes complete sense.
Prior to this season, Miami gutted its team in the offseason just 12 months after splashing into its new stadium by signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Ozzie Guillen. The result was the worst offense in baseball.
The Marlins ranked last in the MLB in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Miami had two starting pitchers finish with earned run averages less than 3.40 but could only muster 16 wins out of Jose Fernandez and Nate Eovaldi. That’s what happens when you’re the Miami Marlins.
Alvarez almost had to do it all Sunday afternoon. In the ninth inning, he recorded two assists before punching out Matt Tuiasosopo to end the frame. He finished the game in the on-deck circle, one hitter away from having to drive home the winning run. That’s what happens when you’re the Miami Marlins.
The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter for the Marlins was Anibal Sanchez, who happened to be in the opposing dugout, getting ready for the playoffs with the Tigers. That’s what happens when you’re the Miami Marlins.
Alvarez’s accomplishment, while impressive, was made easier by a few personnel decisions by Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera, who won his lone World Series championship with the Marlins as a skinny, baby-faced rookie outfielder in 2003, was also in the opposing dugout. The three-time batting champion never even got into the game and did not have a chance to spoil the no-hit bid. Prince Fielder, the other hard-hitting Tiger, saw just two pitches in the game before being pulled.
The no-hitter came just days after general manager Larry Beinfest was fired, leading to uncertainty both in the present and the future.
Who will still be on the team next season? What young players should Miami fans say bye to? Will Jeffrey Loria finally sell the team?
But most importantly, what will be the first pitch of next season for Miami? No one knows, but it sure will not top this year’s finale.
Contact Matthew DeFranks at [email protected]
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.