Throughout the course of the 2001 season and their careers in South Florida, catcher Charles Johnson and first baseman Derrek Lee had their fair share of big, timely hits for the Florida Marlins.
Both had clutch hits on this day 20 years as the Marlins rallied from three down in the ninth inning to top the Milwaukee Brewers in 10 innings. Johnson had the tying hit before Lee delivered the game-winner in a 5-4 victory.
The Marlins were on the short end of a 4-1 score at Miller Park on Aug. 1, 2001 as the contest went to the ninth inning. Closer Curt Leskanic was brought in to close things out for Milwaukee, but that was not to be.
Lee started off the inning with a double, but Leskanic responded by inducing consecutive groundouts. The second, off the bat of John Mabry, scored Lee to make it a 4-2 game. Needing a baserunner to bring the tying run to the plate, the Marlins turned to Jeff Abbott, who had made his Florida debut the day prior.
Abbott however, came through with a single on the first pitch he saw from Leskanic. With a runner on and lead-off man Luis Castillo due up, manager Tony Perez again went to his bench. Up came catcher Charles Johnson.
Johnson had been given the day off, but had come through as a pinch hitter earlier that season. In a May 13 victory over the San Diego Padres, Johnson’s pinch-hit grand slam turned a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead. At Miller Park, it was a case of déjà vu.
Ahead in the count 2-0, Johnson got a pitch from Leskanic that he could handle. Johnson blasted the pitch over the center field wall for the game-tying two-run pinch-hit homer.
In the bottom of the ninth, Armando Almanza relieved Braden Looper with two outs and two runners on and got Jeromy Burnitz to pop out. To extra innings they went.
Against Ray King, Cliff Floyd led off the Marlins’ 10th with a double. Milwaukee went to Mike DeJean, who got Mike Lowell to ground out before a Kevin Millar sacrifice fly moved Floyd to third. With two outs, Lee came to the plate.
Ahead in the count 2-1, Lee lined a double to center to score Floyd. For the first time since the fourth inning, the Marlins led. It was 5-4.
Closer Antonio Alfonseca gave up a two-out single in the 10th, but got Jose Hernandez to hit into a fielder’s choice to preserve the victory and pick up the save. Almanza got the win.
Prior to the ninth, the only Florida run came in the first on a sacrifice fly by Floyd. Hernandez gave Milwaukee its first lead with a two-run double in the fourth inning. After an RBI single by Burnitz doubled the Brewers’ lead in the fifth, Hernandez doubled home another run in the sixth.
After winning 5-1 the night prior, the comeback victory clinched the three-game series for the Marlins. It happened on this day two decades ago.