The No. 2 overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft, pitcher Josh Beckett’s time with the Florida Marlins will forever be remembered for his stellar 2003 postseason.
Although he never made an All-Star Game as a member of the Marlins, his regular season efforts were pretty good too. In five seasons with Florida, Beckett went 41-34 with a 3.46 ERA. That tenure began with a bang on this day 20 years ago.
The Florida Marlins were looking to bounce back from a 10-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs the night prior as the teams met at Pro Player Stadium on Sept. 4, 2001. Beckett made sure that came to fruition with a stellar start in his big-league debut, an 8-1 victory for the Marlins.
Over six shutout innings, Beckett allowed just one hit and three walks while striking out five. Beckett retired the Cubs in order three times, allowing only a second-inning single to Rondell White.
The fourth inning was the only frame where Beckett faced any real trouble. After issuing back-to-back two-out walks to Fred McGriff and White, Beckett settled in to get Ricky Gutierrez to fly out on the very next pitch.
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Beckett took the mound in the second with the lead, thanks to a three-run home run from Preston Wilson in the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the fifth, Beckett got the offense started during a five-run inning.
Leading off the inning, Beckett collected his first career hit with a double to right field. Beckett would come around to score two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Derrek Lee. After singles from Cliff Floyd and Preston Wilson and a walk to Mike Lowell loaded the bases, Kevin Millar turned the contest into a laugher with a grand slam off Chicago starter Jon Lieber.
Beckett walked Delino DeShields to start the sixth, but responded by striking out Michael Tucker and Sammy Sosa. A flyout from McGriff ended the inning and Beckett’s stellar night.
Tucker tripled in a run in the eighth inning to break up the shutout, but the story of the night was Beckett. Matched up with the All-Star Lieber, Beckett shined to pick up his first career victory.
In four starts during the 2001 season, Beckett would finish 2-2 with a splendid 1.50 ERA. His memorable debut came on this day two decades ago.