The 1996 season didn’t get off to a great start for the Florida Marlins, but a lengthy winning streak in May changed the outlook for the fourth-year franchise.
On this day 25 years ago, the Marlins set a franchise record that still stands by winning their ninth straight game. They defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-5.
Winners of eight straight, Florida had been riding stellar pitching as it arrived at Joe Robbie Stadium on May 14, 1996. The Marlins would get a quality start from Kurt Miller, but the bats coming alive late was the difference.
Florida trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh as Cory Bailey relieved St. Louis starter Donovan Osborne. Bailey got Craig Grebeck to pop out to start the inning, but that would be the only out he would record.
After a single by Jesús Tavarez and a ground-rule double by Devon White, shortstop Alex Arias ended Bailey’s night with a game-tying two-run double. The Cardinals went back to the bullpen and Jeff Parrett. Although Parrett retired the first two batters he faced, Greg Colbrunn followed up a home run from his previous at-bat with a sacrifice fly gave Florida a 5-4 lead.
That lead would be short-lived as Ray Lankford homered off Terry Mathews with one out in the top of the eighth, but the Florida bats never cooled. The Marlins’ eighth saw 11 men come to the plate and six touch home.
Parrett retired Jeff Conine to start the ninth, but proceeded to walk the bases loaded. The Cardinals turned to Rick Honeycutt and the Marlins turned from taking walks to hitting line drives.
With one out, Joe Orsulak came through for Florida with a two-run pinch hit single off Honeycutt to put the Marlins ahead for good, 7-5. White followed that with a RBI double before Arias singled home Orsulak. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Colbrunn scored White and after that, came a single from Gary Sheffield to load the bases.
Honeycutt was pulled without recording an out as Tony Fossas came in with the Cardinals trailing 10-5. Conine would make his second out of the inning on a groundout to third, but this one drove in a run. After a Terry Pendleton groundout finally ended the eighth, Yorkis Pérez worked a perfect 11-pitch ninth to seal the victory.
The Cardinals bounced back to shut out the Marlins 6-0 the following day to avoid the three-game sweep, but the May 14 victory gave the Fish their ninth straight win. The nine-game winning streak remains a club record. It was duplicated in 2004 and 2006, but not topped since it first happened on this day a quarter-century ago.