The 2007 Florida Marlins didn’t have a single winning month, but most months started with a bang. In their first game of the month that year, Florida was 5-1.
On this day 15 years ago, the Marlins rallied to start July on the right foot. Miguel Olivo’s solo home run in the ninth tied the game before Josh Willingham delivered the walk-off single in the 10th in a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves.
The Marlins appeared on the verge of collapse as they came to bat in the bottom of the ninth at Pro Player Stadium on July 1, 2007. Florida entered the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead and was now on the short end of a 5-4 score.
Despite allowing a solo home to Atlanta’s Andruw Jones in the seventh and a two-run single to Edgar Renteria in the eighth, the Marlins were one out away from closing it out in the ninth. With the Marlins leading 4-3, Atlanta’s Yunel Escobar battled back from an 0-2 count to line a two-run go-ahead single on the 10th pitch of the at-bat against Marlins closer Kevin Gregg.
The Marlins entered the bottom of the ninth needing a run to stay alive. It came two pitches in.
Olivo, the Florida catcher, had homered off Braves closer Bob Wickman the night before in a 6-5 Atlanta victory. For the second night in a row, Olivo got a hanging slider and took advantage. On a 1-0 count, Olivo hammered one down the left-field line for the game-tying home run.
Wickman was able to get the game to the 10th, but the Marlins had new life.
In the top of the 10th, the Braves used singles from Chipper Jones and Matt Diaz to put two runners in scoring position. Florida’s Lee Gardner, however, was able to strike out Atlanta’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia looking to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, Atlanta’s Rafael Soriano failed to record an out. Miguel Cabrera singled to lead off the inning. Jason Wood bunted him over, but Soriano’s throw to first was off line and Florida had two runners on.
With Brett Carroll running for Cabrera at second, Josh Willingham stepped to the plate. For the night, Willingham was 4-for-4. Two pitches later, he was 5-for-5.
On a 1-0 count, Willingham lined Soriano’s pitch down the line in left field. Carroll scored easily. Disaster had been averted and the comeback was complete.
For three-and-a-half innings, neither team scored. The Marlins broke through in the bottom of the fourth with three runs. Willingham’s RBI single was followed by a two-run Jeremy Hermida home run. Hermida picked up his third RBI on a single in the sixth.
Willingham’s five hits remain tied for a club record. The last of those completed a comeback against the rival Atlanta Braves on this day 15 years ago.