In his four full seasons with the Florida Marlins, Kevin Millar had numerous big-time hits and some dramatic home runs.
Of those 59 blasts that he hit as a member of the Marlins, only one was a walk-off shot. That came in extra innings on this day 20 years as Millar’s 10th-inning blast completed the comeback in a 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Marlins had trailed 5-1 at one point and 5-4 entering the bottom of the ninth inning at Pro Player Stadium on Sept. 28, 2001. Philadelphia looked to close it out as José Mesa came on to pitch the ninth, but the 12,000-plus in the stands knew that Mesa had blown saves as that ballpark before.
Mesa struck out John Mabry to start the inning, but back-to-back singles from Dave Berg and Derrek Lee put runners on the corners with one out. As Craig Counsell had nearly four years prior, Eric Owens evened the game with a sacrifice fly.
With the contest now knotted 5-5, Florida closer Antonio Alfonseca induced three groundouts during a 1-2-3 top of the 10th inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Phillies turned to right-hander Cliff Politte.
Millar got a good look from the on-deck circle as Mike Lowell worked a five-pitch at-bat before flying out. With one out, Millar worked the count to 2-2 against Politte before getting a pitch he could handle.
Millar was able to lift the sixth pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left field. For the first time that evening, the Marlins were in front. The game was over.
Philadelphia was up 5-1 before Florida starter Ryan Dempster could record an out in the third inning. Doug Glanville came through with a two-run single in the first inning before Marlon Anderson added an RBI double for the Phillies in the second.
Down 3-0, Lowell homered for the Marlins to start the bottom of the second. To start the top of the third however, Rolen and Travis Lee hit back-to-back home runs.
The Marlins cut the four-run deficit in half in the fifth inning. After Andy Fox led off the frame with a solo home run, a muff in right field on a single by Owens allowed Derrek Lee to score. Owens singled home Berg in the seventh to cut the lead to one on what would be the final pitch of the night from Philadelphia starter Robert Person.
Berg, Lee and Owens combined for seven of the 11 hits for the Marlins, but in the end, it was the previously 0-for-4 Millar who ended it. He did so on this day two decades ago.