On this date in Marlins history, September 16, 1998, Kirt Ojala completed a rare feat by striking out four batters in the fourth inning. The Florida Marlins had just won the World Series in 1997, but the team's first fire sale in history ravaged the roster and left the club destined for a losing campaign. The Marlins entered this game a disappointing 50-102 with no real rhythm on the season. However, at least one bright spot happened amid the loss in this game.
The Marlins got the scoring started in the first inning with a run scoring double by Mark Kotsay to plate Todd Dunwoody. The game stayed 1-0 Marlins until the bottom of the third where Bob Henley the Expos catcher homered to tie the game at one. The Marlins responded in the top of the fourth with a run of their own Ryan Jackson knocked in Cliff Floyd with a run scoring double.
As we move to the bottom of the fourth inning, the game got strange. Ojala, who had thrown three innings of one-run ball, was given the task of pitching against the heart of the Expos lineup to lead off the fourth inning. The next fifteen pitches thrown by Ojala made him join an exclusive club of striking out four batters in one inning. He retired Fernando Segundol swinging, Vladmir Guerrero went down swinging, but he reached on a passed ball. Shane Andrews was next and was retired on four pitches. To finish off this unbelievable half-inning. Ojala struck out Brad Fullmer, the Expos first baseman, swinging at strike three.
Only 66 men have struck out four batters in one inning and Ojala is one of them. The game remained a 2-1 Marlins lead until the bottom of the ninth inning. Ojala returned to the mound to finish off the complete game and retired two of the first three hitters he faced. Shane Andrews worked a walk and moved to second on Henley's groundout. With two outs and a runner on second, pinch hitter Robert Perez tied the game on a run-scoring single. Jim Leyland left Ojala in the game even though he had thrown 113 pitches. On the very next pitch Jose Vidro ended the game with a run-scoring double as the Marlins lost in walk-off fashion.
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