This Day In Marlins History: Happy Birthday Carlos Zambrano

MIAMI, FL - MAY 28: Pitcher Carlos Zambrano of the Florida Marlins leaves the game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on May 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Happy birthday today Big Z! (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

In Fish Stripes' continued attempt to remind people of the past of the Florida Marlins along with the present and future of the Miami Marlins, we bring you a new feature published three or so times a week entitled This Day In Marlins History! The concept itself is very simple: whenever we publish this, we find an interesting fact or tidbit related to the Florida / Miami Marlins and write a little bit about that event.

On this day, June 1, 1981, Miami Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano was born!

Zambrano, of course, has not been a Marlin for long, having spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs. But even in his times as a Cub, he had a history with the then-Florida Marlins that cannot be ignored. Zambrano started with the Cubs full time at age 21, when he split time in the bullpen and in the rotation in 2002. But he got his first real taste of being a big-league starter next season, in 2003, and the Cubs and Marlins ended up tangling that season in epic fashion.

Zambrano faced the Marlins twice in that memorable National League Championship Series in 2003, with the Marlins getting away with big innings against him. "Big Z" put up a 5.73 ERA in those two starts with eight strikeouts, five walks, and four home runs. He played a role in the losing efforts by the Cubs against the Fish in Game 1 and Game 5. You might remember Game 5 as the Josh Beckett start in which Beckett went the distance and threw a complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts in one of the most dominating performances that I have witnessed in the playoffs. Two games later, the Fish completed the comeback from down 3-1 in the series to take it in seven games.

Flash forward to 2012, long past Zambrano received a massive five-year, $91 million extension that was likely undeserved and was looking that way as he entered the final contract year. The Marlins and Cubbies completed a deal that sent former first-round draft pick Chris Volstad to the Cubs for Zambrano, with the Marlins paying only $2.5 million of his remaining $18 million in his final contract year. Zambrano was expected to be the team's fifth starter, but so far he has been more than that for the Fish. Right now, he has a 3.00 ERA and a 3.89 FIP, both numbers that were more than expected from him before the season. Remember, Zambrano was coming off a terrible 2011 which saw him suspended indefinitely by the team before being dealt in the offseason. Now, he has changed his pitching ways and lifestyle and shed his tantrum-heavy ways.

Here is hoping Zambrano can continue doing well for the Marlins in 2012. Happy birthday Big Z!

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