Henderson Alvarez threw the 5th no-hitter in the history of the Miami Marlins on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the Marlins season. The Marlins finish in a distant 5th in the NL East at a record of 62-100, but that 62nd win is one no one who saw it will soon forget. According to ESPN, it is the first time since 1997 that a no-hitter has ended with a walk-off in the bottom of the 9th.
The Marlins, at home, did not score a run through the first 8 innings of the game. Alvarez went out for the 9th and got 3 outs. While he could pump his fist after finishing 9 innings of no-hit baseball, he couldn’t really celebrate because the game was still tied, 0-0. The Marlins needed a run in the bottom of the 9th, not only to win the game, but to give Alvarez his rightfully deserved no-hitter.
After Justin Ruggiano grounded out to shortstop, Giancarlo Stanton singled up the middle to put the winning run on base. Logan Morrison duplicated Stanton’s hit, moving Stanton to 2nd. Luke Putkonen’s wild pitch put the runners at 2nd and 3rd, with 1 out. Adieny Hechavarria grounded out, and the runners stayed put, then Chris Coghlan walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs came to the plate. Ironically, Alvarez stood on-deck because his spot was next in the order, even though it was physically impossible that he would have to hit because if Dobbs reached base, a run would score, and if Dobbs made an out, the inning would be over. Marlins broadcasters remarked that if Alvarez couldn’t celebrate from the mound after the 27th out, then the next best place would be the on-deck circle. Dobbs was a great pinch-hitter for this clutch situation, as he is the active leader in both pinch-hits and pinch-hit RBI.
On the first pitch, Dobbs started to swing at an inside breaking ball, but checked his swing successfully. The ball continued to break after it went by Dobbs, and catcher Brayan Pena tried to stop it, but it got by and went to the backstop. Stanton broke for the plate immediately, and scored evenly. The walk-off wild pitch gave a no-hitter to the man on-deck. I doubt anyone has ever written that sentence before.
After the celebration on the field, Alvarez briefly went into the stands to embrace his wife, who is expecting the couple’s first child. After hugging and kissing her, he kissed her stomach, as if to kiss the baby in her womb.
Ironically, the last Marlins pitcher to throw a no-hitter is Anibal Sanchez, who is now a member of the Tigers and watched the game from the visitor’s dugout. Sanchez remained in the dugout to watch the celebration a few seconds longer than his teammates, and viewers could almost read his mind saying “I know how he feels to throw one, here.”
The fact the no-hitter was against the Tigers, who are the champions of the AL Central, makes the accomplishment even more special. In fact, the Marlins, who had nothing to play for this weekend, swept the Tigers, a team that, until now, were projected by many (including me) as the potential favorites to win the American League. Now, after being swept by the worst team in the NL (even considering some of their starters only played 1 or 2 games in the series), there are questions about their chances.
On this final day of the regular season, the AL Wild Card race is coming down to the wire, with the three teams all within a game of each other. The Indians and Rangers have games currently in progress (both lead). The Rays defeated the Blue Jays, 7-6, and cannot be eliminated today, although they may have to play a tiebreaker tomorrow.