In 28 years as a franchise, only two members of the Florida/Miami Marlins franchise have ever led the National League in saves. The first saves title in franchise history wrapped up on this day 20 years ago.
With 44 saves to his name, Antonio Alfonseca entered the final day of the 2000 regular season having wrapped up the outright saves title in Major League Baseball the night before. Alfonseca had two more than San Diego Padres closer (and former Marlin) Trevor Hoffman, as the Florida Marlins went for the sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies on Oct. 1, 2000.
On the final day of the regular season, Alfonseca added one final save for good measure in a 7-5 victory for the Marlins. He needed 14 pitches to close things out.
With a two-run lead, Alfonseca took the hill in the top of the ninth to face the heart of the Philadelphia order. Alfonseca started the inning by getting Bobby Abreu to pop out. After giving up a single to Pat Burrell, the Marlins closer shut Philadelphia down with back-to-back strikeouts of Travis Lee and Kevin Jordan on just seven total pitches.
Alfonseca’s 45th save tied the Florida record set by Bryan Harvey in the inaugural season of 1993 and preserved the win for starter Ryan Dempster. Dempster allowed three runs in five innings of work and finished the year with a record of 14-10.
All of the Florida offense came over two innings. After the Phillies pushed across two runs in the top of the first, the Marlins scored four times in the bottom half of the inning. After Preston Wilson’s two-run double tied the game, Mike Lowell and Mike Redmond added RBI singles.
Following a run for Philadelphia in the top half of the inning, the Marlins added three more in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Lowell and a two-run home run by Derrek Lee. The Phillies pushed across two in the sixth to cap the scoring.
As for Alfonseca, his club saves record would last four years before Armando Benitez recorded 47 saves in 2004. Benitez tied Jason Isringhausen of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League lead in 2004.
Alfonseca remains the only Marlins reliever to win the saves title outright. He wrapped up that campaign by tying a club record on this day two decades ago.