Miami MarlinsThis Day In Marlins History
On this day, July 13, 1997, Gary Sheffield accomplished a ridiculous feat of power amid a Marlins offensive spree.
Hero of the Game: Mark Kotsay (0.230 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Kurt Abbott (-0.074 WPA)
Play of the Game: Mark Kotsay tripled to center field in the fourth inning with the bases loaded. Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla, and Gregg Zaun score. (+0.274 WPA)
The Florida Marlins ended up winning this one handily on the back of a loaded fourth inning of offense. The Fish were down 1-0 early against the lowly (at the time) Philadelphia Phillies, and Mark Leiter was doing fairly decently against the Fish.
Then, the fourth inning came and the Marlins batted around with a fury, and it all began with a leadoff solo shot from right fielder Gary Sheffield.
That home run was actually the critical one, because it tied the game and gave the Marlins a fresh inning of offense to work with and a tie rather than a deficit. The home run was worth 0.140 WPA, meaning Sheff added 14 percent to the Marlins chances of winning with one long fly to deep left over the Teal Monster.
But the Marlins were not done, and neither was Sheffield.
The Fish followed up with a Moises Alou walk. Then Leiter hit Bobby Bonilla with a pitch and brought up the classically terrible Kurt Abbott. Abbott finally recorded the team's first out with a grounder that moved both runners. Still, the Phillies looked like they had a decent chance to get out of the inning. They intentionally walked the Z-Man and his Zauntorage (I love Gregg Zaun) and had only the pitcher Alex Fernandez and the rookie Kotsay to face.
Kotsay, who I did not realize got his 1997 cup of coffee this early in the season, made them pay. The 77th ranked prospect in baseball according to Baseball America smacked a triple to the cavernous center field of Joe Robbie Stadium, driving all three runners home. That was the biggest play of the game, putting the Marlins up 4-1 and essentially sealing a victory.
But the Fish were not finished just yet. Shortstop Edgar Renteria doubled to drive Kotsay home and, following a walk by Jim Eisenrech, the righty brother of Marlins starter Al Leiter was relieved after being shelled for five runs and two baserunners in the inning.
By that point, the Fish had batted around in the inning and the task of these two runners with two outs fell on Sheffield. Apparently, he was up to the task versus reliever Reggie Harris. Harris's only home run allowed in 1997 came on this PA, as Sheffield smacked a second homer again over the Teal Monster for his second home run in the same inning. Now, Harris was a terrible major leaguer (career 4.91 ERA), but he allowed a below average rate of homers for his career. Sheffield took him deep in the inning for a three-run bomb that capped off a spectacular offensive performance.
On this day, July 13, 1997, Sheffield became just the 38th major leaguer to have hit two home runs in one inning. He is the only Marlin who has ever accomplished this task. And he did it on this day in Marlins history.