With their 30th season as a franchise to conclude later this week, the Florida/Miami Marlins have made just three postseason appearances in their history. However, they have made the most of those appearances with two world championships and seven series victories. Their first series victory was clinched on this day 25 years ago as the Marlins completed a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series, 6-2.
Florida had won the first two games of the series at home on walk-off hits as they arrived at 3Com Park for Game 3 on Oct. 3, 1997. The offense got off to a slow start, but a grand slam in the sixth inning from Devon White served as the big blow to the Giants.
Former teammates with the Chicago White Sox, Florida’s Alex Fernandez and San Francisco’s Wilson Alvarez combined to allow just one run through five innings. That belonged to San Francisco on a solo home run from Jeff Kent in the fourth.
The Marlins had just three hits entering the sixth. Alvarez needed just five pitches to get two quick outs before Florida rallied to take the lead. After singles from Moises Alou and Jeff Conine, catcher Charles Johnson walked to load the bases.
A switch-hitting, Gold Glove-winning, two-time world champion with the Toronto Blue Jays, White had two career postseason home runs as he stepped to the plate in the sixth. His third postseason blast and second hitting from the right side came on a 2-1 pitch. The grand slam gave Florida a 4-1 lead.
Kent’s second solo home run of the night in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to two, but RBI doubles from Johnson and Craig Counsell in the eighth gave the Marlins all the offense they would need. Alou, Conine and White all finished with two hits in the victory.
Fernandez allowed just the two runs on seven hits while striking out five in seven strong innings to pick up the win. Unfortunately for Fernandez, an injury suffered during the National League Championship Series would require rotator cuff surgery and end his season. His Florida teammates wore his No. 32 on their caps as the Marlins went on to win their first World Series.
A Miami native, Fernandez finished his career with the Marlins, but never pitched in the postseason again. His only postseason win came with the help of a grand slam from White and clinched the Marlins’ first-ever series victory. It also came on this day a quarter-century ago.