The 1999 season wasn’t one that the Florida Marlins will remember with any particular fondness, but like any other baseball season, it had its fair share of memories. One of the most thrilling from that particular season took place on this day two decades ago.
The Marlins were a league-worst 6-22 as they made their way to Dodger Stadium to begin a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 7, 1999. Florida had lost eight straight heading into the contest and had failed to win a series all season.
That trend looked to inevitably continue as Florida trailed 3-1 after six innings. To that point, the Marlins had mustered just a run on four hits against Los Angeles starter Darren Dreifort before stringing hits together in the top of the seventh.
After an RBI double from Todd Dunwoody cut the Dodgers’ lead in half, Dreifort intentionally walked catcher Jorge Fabregas to load the bases. From there, Los Angeles went to the bullpen and Florida went to the bench.
Bruce Aven was called to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Dennis Springer and stepped to the plate to face Alan Mills with one out. On a 2-2 pitch, Aven was able to hammer a fastball over the left field wall for a pinch-hit grand slam to give the Marlins a 6-3 lead. The blast for Aven was just the second home run of his career and the first pinch-hit grand slam in club history.
Aven’s memorable blast would cap the scoring as the Marlins went on to win the series by taking the rubber game two days later. Springer earned the win for Florida while Dreifort was tagged with the loss. The only other ball to leave the yard that night was hit by Los Angeles third baseman Adrián Beltré—a solo shot in the third to get the scoring started.
There have been other notable pinch-hit grand slams in the Marlins’ 27-year history from the likes of Ryan McGuire and Jeremy Hermida. The first-ever, however, came from Bruce Aven and on this day 20 years ago.