For the 2003 Florida Marlins, there was no shortage of heroes as the club overcame a rough start to win its second World Series. On this day 20 years ago, it was an unlikely hero who put the Marlins in the win column.
Trailing to start the bottom of the ninth, Brian Banks’ walk-off single capped the comeback. Florida opened a four-game series with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Montreal Expos.
The Marlins and Expos were tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for the Wild Card spot in the National League as they began a four-game series at Pro Player Stadium on Aug. 29, 2003. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, an RBI groundout from Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez put Florida on the board. Against Rocky Biddle in the ninth, the Marlins needed one run to tie or two to win.
Juan Encarnación opened the frame with a bloop single to center off Biddle before Derrek Lee drew a four-pitch walk. After a rare sacrifice bunt from Miguel Cabrera put two runners in scoring position, Álex González grounded it sharply to third. A slight bobble from defensive replacement Jamey Carroll proved costly as his throw home was not in time.
With one out and two on, manager Jack McKeon went to his bench as Banks got the call. The switch hitter had gone more than a week without a hit and had received just three at-bats over that stretch but took advantage of the opportunity. On a 2-2 pitch from the right-hander Biddle, Banks ripped one to right field and over the head of a leaping Vladimir Guerrero to score Lee for the game-winning hit.
Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo each had two hits for the Marlins. Orlando Cabrera finished 3-for-4 for Montreal. Brad Wilkerson, who led off the game with a home run, scored both runs for the Expos in the loss.
The Marlins would go on to sweep the four-game series with Montreal with four very competitive wins to take the lead in the National League Wild Card. That series began with a walk-off win, courtesy of Banks, on this day two decades ago.
Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson