Big innings and momentum often change the outcomes of baseball games. On this day 15 years ago, the Florida Marlins put a crooked number on the scoreboard that put them ahead to stay.
The Marlins had let a 5-1 eighth-inning lead slip away at Dolphins Stadium as they came to bat in the bottom of the inning against the Texas Rangers on June 10, 2005. The Rangers had pushed four runs across in the top of the eighth to draw even.
How would Florida respond? With seven runs in the bottom half of the inning and a 12-5 victory.
The Rangers had collected five hits in the eighth with Hidalgo and Rod Barajas coming through with RBI singles and a two-run double by Laynce Nix. It was a blown save for Todd Jones, who was brought in to stop the bleeding but not before allowing an inherited runner to score.
For new pitcher and Texas right-hander Doug Brocail, the inning actually started promising. Brocail struck out Marlins outfielder Juan Encarnación on just four pitches to start the inning. That would be the only out that he would record.
After singles by Álex González and Juan Pierre sandwiched around a walk to Lenny Harris loaded the bases, Brocail was unable to find the plate. The Marlins went back in front on a four-pitch walk to Luis Castillo. With one out, Brocail was able to get ahead in the count to Miguel Cabrera, 0-2, but Cabrera pulled a single to left to chase home an insurance run and end Brocail’s night.
Brian Shouse came in for the Rangers and struck out Carlos Delgado, but with two outs, third baseman Mike Lowell would deliver the big blow. On the second pitch he saw from Shouse, Lowell went deep over the left-center field wall for a grand slam. A tie game to start the inning had become an 11-5 lead for Florida.
The Marlins still weren’t done.
After a double by catcher Paul Lo Duca and a single by Encarnación, González plated another run off Shouse with an infield single. Jeff Conine singled off C.J. Wilson one batter later, but Encarnación was thrown out at the plate by Richard Hidalgo to end the inning. Marlins reliever Jim Mecir worked a scoreless ninth to end the game.
Despite his struggles, Jones wound up earning the win for the Marlins.
The Marlins finished with 17 hits to 11 for the Rangers. Encarnación and González each had three hits for Florida. Pierre, Castillo, Cabrera and Lo Duca each had two hits and two runs scored.
For Texas, Michael Young had three hits. Barajas and Park, the starting pitcher, each added two hits for the Rangers.
Florida would clinch the three-game series the next night with a 7-6 comeback victory. At that point in the year, however, the 12 runs scored in the series opener was a season-high. It came on this day 15 years ago.