With a 30th season nearly in the books, the Florida/Miami Marlins have just three postseason appearances to their name, but two world championships.
Their first-ever postseason game took place on this day 25 years ago and ended in dramatic fashion. Edgar Renteria’s walk-off single in the ninth was the difference as the Florida Marlins topped the San Francisco Giants, 2-1.
The Marlins were the National League wild card as they arrived at Pro Player Stadium for Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Sept. 30, 1997. Despite hosting Game 1, it was National League West champion San Francisco who had the home-field advantage. With Games 1 and 2 in South Florida, the final three games were set for the Bay Area. The Marlins finished the regular season with a record of 92-70 while the Giants went 90-72.
For six innings in Game 1, San Francisco’s Kirk Rueter and Florida’s Kevin Brown traded zeroes. In the seventh, however, both teams got on the board with solo home runs—Bill Mueller took Brown deep to right field, then Charles Johnson matched Mueller’s blast with one of his own.
Brown and Rueter each allowed a run on four hits in seven innings. In a battle of the bullpens, Dennis Cook stole the show with a pair of 1-2-3 innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Jeff Conine singled off Julian Tavarez before Johnson was hit by the very next pitch.
The Giants turned to closer Roberto Hernandez.
After Craig Counsell’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Jim Eisenreich was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. The walk set up a force-out at the plate and San Francisco executed on a Devon White fielder’s choice to second.
That set the stage for Renteria.
On a 2-1 pitch from Hernandez, Renteria lined one in between first and second and into right field for the walk-off single. In their first playoff game, the Marlins had emerged victorious.
Renteria had numerous clutch hits throughout the 1997 season and was a big-time performer in the postseason during his 16-year career. Renteria would famously collect the walk-off hit in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, but he would also go on to win World Series MVP honors in 2010 with the San Francisco Giants.
It was against the Giants that Renteria played his first postseason game and had his first big postseason moment. It came on this day a quarter-century ago.