The legendary Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez’s lone season with the Florida Marlins was one to remember. Rodriguez hit .297 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs as the club won its second World Series, but he wasn’t the only Marlins catcher to have a solid year at the plate.
Ramón Castro batted a career-best .283 with five home runs in 40 games for the Marlins that season. On this day 20 years, Castro played the role of hero with a walk-off home run in the 13th inning in a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neither team had scored since the fifth inning and the bullpens did a great job of keeping it that way as the Marlins came to the plate in the bottom of the 13th on Aug. 12, 2003, at Pro Player Stadium. In his second inning of work, Los Angeles’ Paul Shuey opened the frame by retiring Mike Lowell and Juan Encarnación. After entering the game in the 11th and striking out in his first at-bat, Castro got another opportunity.
After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Castro got a pitch that drifted into his wheelhouse. Castro’s shot landed in the seats above the “teal tower” in left field for the walk-off home run.
Prior to Castro’s blast, the Marlins never led in the contest. The Dodgers scored runs in four straight innings from the second through the fifth. Florida tied the game with two runs in the third before doing likewise with runs in the fourth and fifth.
Jeromy Burnitz homered and drove in two runs for the Dodgers while catcher Paul Lo Duca finished with three hits, a run scored, and an RBI. Luis Castillo finished 3-for-6 with a pair of runs for the Marlins. Shortstop Álex González had two hits, a run and an RBI. Lowell plated two runs with a single in the third.
As for Rodriguez, he was ejected in the fifth inning as Los Angeles’ Paul Lo Duca was called safe on a close play at home plate. That may have cost the Marlins as Mike Redmond, his slower replacement, was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on an RBI double from Encarnacion a half-inning later.
In the end, it was the third catcher to see action for the Marlins who ended the contest. In 13 total seasons with the Marlins, New York Mets and Chicago White Sox, Castro hit 67 career home runs. His lone walk-off bomb came in the 13th inning and on this day two decades ago.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson