Now in their 30th season, the Florida/Miami Marlins have made just three postseason appearances.
Fortunately, two have resulted in world championships. The first postseason appearance was clinched on this day 25 years ago as the Florida Marlins defeated the Montreal Expos, 6-3.
After getting swept at home by the New York Mets, the Marlins needed just one win to clinch a playoff berth as they arrived at Olympic Stadium to face the Montreal Expos on Sept. 23, 1997. With Kevin Brown on the mound, things seemed to be in Florida’s favor, but the night didn’t start that way.
Gary Sheffield’s sacrifice fly in the first inning gave the Marlins the lead, but the Expos answered with runs in each of the first innings. Jose Vidro and Brad Fullmer each recorded RBI singles while Rondell White blasted a solo home run to left. In the fifth inning, the Marlins used four singles to pull in front for good.
Following a Bobby Bonilla single that cut the lead to 3-2, Moises Alou and Charles Johnson came through with back-to-back RBI singles of their own as Florida regained the lead, 4-3. That’s all Brown would need.
After working around two hits in the fifth, Brown struck out the side in the sixth to conclude his night. Dennis Cook, Jay Powell and Robb Nen did the rest for the Florida bullpen.
Nen got the save by working a perfect ninth. The save came after Jeff Conine provided some insurance with a two-run home run in the top of the inning to increase the lead to 6-3.
Alou, a former Expo, and Fullmer each collected three hits for their respective teams. Brown picked up his 16th win of the season while Nen earned his 35th save. Dustin Hermanson took the loss for Montreal.
The Marlins would go just 1-4 over their final five games to close the regular season, but none of that mattered. After sweeping the San Francisco Giants and beating the Atlanta Braves in six games, Florida outlasted the Cleveland Indians in seven games to win its first World Series in just its fifth season as a franchise. The Marlins ensured themselves a spot in postseason for the first time on this day a quarter-century ago.