This past season was one that fans in South Florida will remember fondly as the Miami Marlins reached the postseason for just the second time in 20 years. On this day 20 years ago, however, the Florida Marlins closed their postseason run with a trophy celebration.
At storied Yankee Stadium, it was starting pitcher Josh Beckett who put on a show. Beckett tossed a complete-game shutout as the Marlins defeated the New York Yankees in Game 6 by a 2-0 score.
The Marlins had won the previous two games at Pro Player Stadium to take a 3-2 series lead as the teams arrived in the Bronx on Oct. 25, 2003. On just three days’ rest, manager Jack McKeon went to Beckett to close things out.
It turned out to be the right decision.
Throughout the night, Beckett would allow just five hits and two walks while striking out nine on 107 pitches. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth, Beckett’s offense gave the right-hander the lead in the top of the fifth.
Through 4 ⅔ innings, New York’s Andy Pettitte matched Beckett. With two outs in the fifth, however, the Marlins got on the board with three straight singles from Alex Gonzalez, Juan Pierre, and Luis Castillo.
Castillo’s single to center was followed by a play at the plate. Gonzalez used a nifty slide to avoid the tag and give Florida the game’s first run.
After Beckett worked around a lead-off single in the fifth, the Marlins doubled their advantage in the sixth. A throwing error from Derek Jeter and a walk to Mike Lowell put the first two men on before Derrek Lee sacrificed both into scoring position. Juan Encarnacion’s sacrifice fly to right brought home Jeff Conine to make it 2-0.
Beckett worked a 1-2-3 sixth, but the Yankees had the lead-off man aboard in each of the following two innings. Jorge Posada doubled to start the seventh, but Beckett got Jason Giambi to ground out before fanning both Karim Garcia and Ruben Sierra. Alfonso Soriano led off the eighth with a single but was erased two batters later when Nick Johnson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
As the contest shifted to the bottom of the ninth, McKeon stuck with Beckett. He needed just eight pitches to finish the job.
Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui each flied out to left to open the inning. On a 1-1 pitch to Posada, the New York catcher hit a weak ground ball down the first base line. Beckett was able to field it himself and tag Posada for the final out.
For the second time ever, the Florida Marlins were world champions. Beckett earned MVP honors with his Game 6 gem. It came on this day two decades ago.
Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson