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25-year Marliniversary: Al Leiter tosses first no-hitter in Marlins history vs. Rockies

Gifted a huge early lead on this day in 1996, Leiter never took his foot off the gas.

Kevin Brown, A.J. Burnett, Aníbal Sánchez, Henderson Alvarez and Edinson Vólquez were all among hurlers to throw no-hitters for the Florida/Miami Marlins. The first to do so, however, accomplished the feat on this day 25 years ago.

The Florida Marlins were going for a third win over the Colorado Rockies in as many night as the teams met at Joe Robbie Stadium on May 11, 1996. Not only did fans get to witness a Marlins’ victory, they got to witness history as Al Leiter pitched the first no-hitter in club history in an 11-0 win for Florida.

Leiter needed just 103 pitches and less than two and a half hours to accomplish the feat. Against a Colorado offense that scored more runs than any team in the National League in 1996, Leiter yielded just two walks while striking out six.

After a perfect first, Leiter took the mound in the second inning with a 6-0 lead. The Marlins had a big offensive first with a bases-loaded walk to Jeff Conine, a two-run single by Terry Pendleton and a three-run home run from catcher Charles Johnson.

Leiter got a little too comfortable with that big advantage. He walked Andrés Galarraga to start the frame, then hit Ellis Burks to put two runners on with no one out. After striking out Vinny Castilla, Leiter got Trent Hubbard to bounce into a double play to escape the jam. That would prove to be the Rockies’ best scoring opportunity.

Leiter would open the top of the third with a walk to Jayhawk Owens, but he would be the final batter to reach for Colorado. Pitcher John Habyan bunted into a double play two pitches later before Eric Young struck out looking.

While Leiter kept the Rockies off the bases and the scoreboard, the Florida offense didn’t slow down. After Conine’s two-run double gave the Marlins an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the second, Pendleton extended the advantage to nine with a solo home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth.

Pendleton capped a five-RBI night with his second two-run single of the night in the bottom of the sixth.

For Leiter, the outs kept coming. Leiter closed the seventh with back-to-back strikeouts of Dante Bichette and Galarraga on 3-2 pitches before getting through the eighth on just three pitches. Beginning with the eighth inning, Leiter watched five straight Colorado hitters record an out on the first pitch of the at-bat. Groundouts from Owens and Quinton McCracken on consecutive pitches to start the ninth left Leiter one away from the no-no.

Young, who had struck out to end the second for Colorado, managed to work the count full. On the 3-2 pitch however, Young swung through a Leiter fastball. The line score for Colorado: no runs, no hits, no errors.

The no-hitter for Leiter would serve as the highlight of an All-Star season for the left-hander. The very next season, Kevin Brown joined Leiter on the Marlins’ no-hitter list, but it would be more than a decade later before another Florida pitcher tossed a no-hitter at home. The first came on this day a quarter-century ago.