When it came to the 1998 Florida Marlins, they took wins however they could get them. The team finished just 54-108, the worst record in baseball and in franchise history.
On this day 25 years ago, the club may have picked up its most bizarre win of the year. Todd Zeile came up with the walk-off hit in the 17th inning after the Toronto Blue Jays’ go-ahead run was negated in the top half of the inning in a 4-3 victory for Florida to snap an 11-game losing streak.
Against Roger Clemens at Pro Player Stadium on June 8, 1998, the Marlins struck first with three runs in the first inning. Zeile singled home a pair of runs before Ryan Jackson added an RBI single of his own.
For six innings, the teams traded zeroes before the Blue Jays drew even with three runs in the eighth. Shawn Green doubled home two before scoring on Ed Sprague’s RBI single. That was followed by eight more innings of traded zeroes.
With nothing to lose, the Marlins appealed at third to see whether Crespo had touched the bag on his way to the plate. Umpires ruled he did not and an out call was signaled. The top of the 17th was over and the score remained tied 3-3.
Erik Hanson became the seventh Toronto pitcher to throw as he came on for the bottom of the 17th. Todd Dunwoody was able to get the Marlins started with a lead-off double. After a groundout and an intentional walk, Zeile came to the plate with one out.
Zeile lined Hanson’s 1-1 pitch to left field, scoring Dunwoody for the game-winning run. The victory served as Florida’s second walk-off win of the year and snapped the club’s second 11-game skid of the year.
Although he did not factor in the decision, starting pitcher Brian Meadows outdueled Clemens, allowing just a run on six hits in seven innings. Felix Heredia allowed two runs without recording an out, but Jay Powell, Vic Darensbourg, Matt Mantei, Antonio Alfonseca and Brian Edmondson combined to throw 10 innings of shutout relief. Alfonseca and Edmondson each threw three with the latter picking up the win.
The teams combined for 27 hits, but the lone extra-base hit belonged to Dunwoody. His 17th-inning double proved pivotal for the Marlins.
At the time, the 17 innings were the most that Florida had ever played in a single game. The Marlins ultimately prevailed in thrilling but controversial fashion. They did so on this day a quarter-century ago.
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