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A Missed Catch 10 Years Ago

August 17th, 2013 at 4:09 AM
By Michael Almonte

The Miami Marlins previously known as the Florida Marlins have made the postseason twice in franchise history (1997 & 2003) and both times they defeated the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series on their way to winning the World Series each time.

'Mickey Mouse Florida Marlins Statue in front of the ESPN Zone' photo (c) 2010, Loren Javier - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

It was 10 years ago when both teams squared off in the 2003 postseason and the Giants were on a mission to win that first championship since moving to San Francisco. The Giants won the National League West going wire-to-wire as they went 100-61 to reach the postseason for the second straight year. They were led by Barry Bonds, who batted. 341 in 130 games, smacking 45 homers, 90 RBI's and walked an incredible 148 times. Jason Schmidt was the ace of the team going 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 29 starts, recording five complete games, three shutouts and 208 strikeouts.

The Giants were huge favorites over the Marlins in the Division round and many picked them to reach the World Series for the second consecutive year. The Marlins earned the Wild Card with a 91-71 record and looked to pull the upset.

Schmidt outdueled Josh Beckett in Game 1 as both pitchers allowed just three hits, but the Giants took Game 1 2-0. The Giants had a 4-1 lead in Game 2 heading into the top of the fifth, when the Marlins scored six runs the next two innings and ended up winning 9-5 to even up the series.

'Marlins Game' photo (c) 2010, AJ LEON - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The series shifted to Miami and the Marlins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by catcher Ivan Rodriguez. The Giants would tie the game at 2 in the top of the sixth and both teams went scoreless the next four innings. The Giants scored a run in the top of the 11th and took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the inning. Jeff Conine led off the 11th with a pop out to right field that appeared to be the first out of the inning, but Jose Cruz Jr., who had a great defensive year for the Giants and won the Gold Glove, dropped the ball on the play as Conine advanced to second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rodriguez drilled the game-winning hit that scored two runs to give the Marlins a 4-3 win and 2-1 series lead.

The Giants fell behind 5-1 in Game 4, but rallied to tie the game at 5 after scoring four runs in the top of the sixth. The Marlins scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-5 lead and the Giants were three outs away from going home. A leadoff double and an RBI single by J.T. Snow cut the lead to 7-6. With two outs and Snow on second base, Jeffrey Hammonds blooped a single to left field and Snow looked to score and tie the game. Conine made a perfect throw home as Rodriguez applied the tag as Snow barreled into him. Rodriguez fell backwards and got up holding the ball as the Marlins won 7-6 and eliminated the Giants. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in postseason history a series ended with the potential tying run thrown out at home plate. 

'San Francisco Giants' photo (c) 2012, HarshLight - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For the second straight year, the Giants season ended in heartbreaking fashion and missed a golden opportunity to make another deep postseason run. What would have happened if Cruz caught that ball and the Giants held on to win Game 3? They might have won Game 4 or won back in San Francisco in Game 5 with Schmidt on the mound. The Marlins carried that momentum from the Division Series the rest of the postseason, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series over the Chicago Cubs and then defeated the New York Yankees in six games to win the World Series.

The Giants would have a winning record in 2004 before going through a transition as they suffered four straight losing seasons from 2005-2008. The Giants finally won the World Series in 2010 and then again in 2012.

 

 

 

 

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Tags: Baseball, MLB, San Francisco, San Francisco Giants

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