Marlins mount massive comeback in 9th to walk off Yanks

August 13th, 2023

MIAMI -- There’s a saying inside the Marlins’ clubhouse that the 2023 squad is a “Big Heart Team.”

It looked as though Miami had lost its magic after compiling a 5-17 record and falling out of a playoff position to open the second half, but the club seems to have recaptured its charm while going 4-2 with two improbable comebacks the past week.

The latest came on Sunday afternoon, when had the walk-off hit during a five-run ninth in the Marlins’ 8-7 victory over the Yankees in front of a sellout crowd of 35,043 fans. Miami trailed by as many as six runs -- marking its largest deficit overcome in 2023 -- and now leads the Majors with eight wins when trailing through eight innings.

In doing so, the Marlins (62-57) took two of three in a rematch of the 2003 World Series, with weekend attendance reaching 100,001 -- the highest for a three-game series in loanDepot park history. They also moved a half-game ahead of the Cubs (61-57) for the third National League Wild Card spot.

The Marlins' walk-off was also one of two big comeback wins on Sunday, as the Nationals rallied from a four-plus run deficit to beat the A's.

“We've had these comebacks all year long,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “I think [the] last road trip shows you that's our brand of baseball. I said that in Cincinnati [Wednesday]: It shows you we are still that team. We haven't done it in a while. We hit kind of a losing skid – or whatever you want to call it – but we're still that team that has enough firepower in that lineup to make comebacks, and our bullpen is really good still to keep us in the game, let them come back. 

“They did that in Cincinnati. They did it again here today against a really good team. Cincinnati's a really good team as well. Winning this series was big, especially in front of that huge crowd, and the whole weekend -- to win a series with 100,000 fans was really important for us.”

Miami managed its eighth walk-off victory of the season despite five stolen bases from New York and rookie right-hander Eury Pérez’s second straight lackluster start (four runs over four innings with five strikeouts) since his return to the Majors. The Yankees also entered with the lowest bullpen ERA in the Majors.

Trailing 7-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Marlins had a 2% win probability. But Yuli Gurriel got things started with a leadoff double against righty Clay Holmes before Jon Berti (who pinch-hit for Joey Wendle in the seventh) struck out and Nick Fortes (who replaced Jacob Stallings in the eighth) reached on an infield single. 

Following a Jazz Chisholm Jr. walk to load the bases, Josh Bell sent a comebacker to Holmes, who didn’t field it cleanly and threw the ball away to allow a pair to score. The play was reminiscent of then-Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks’ error in the Marlins’ 10-9 walk-off win on July 5.

“I actually grew up playing with Clay, too, throughout the Minor Leagues, so I know that he's got a plus sinker,” said Bell, who is batting .310 with nine runs and nine RBIs in 11 games since being acquired by the Marlins. “I tried to get off the dish a little bit and give myself some room, got to that 2-0 count and probably could have taken that pitch, but it started in my go zone and it ran a lot more than I thought it would. I was able to eat him up [by] just busting my tail down at first base, force an errant throw and allow Luis [Arraez] to do what he does.”

With runners at the corners, Arraez followed with the game-tying two-run triple to the right-field corner. For the second time in the game, Bell scored from first base. 

“I said, ‘OK, I've got my chance. I've got my time,’” said Arraez, who collected three hits to bump his average to .367. “And then he hung a sinker inside [at] 97 [mph]. It's not an easy pitch, but I used my hands and I got my triple and tied the game.”

Righty Tommy Kahnle took over for Holmes and walked Bryan De La Cruz to once again put runners on the corners. With a drawn-in five-man infield, De La Cruz advanced to second on defensive indifference. Burger then lined a 2-1 changeup to left field for his third career walk-off hit and his first with Miami.

“Obviously we'd like to win the first game of a series and not have to win the last two, but any way works, and we know that winning series is vital to us right now,” said Burger, who is batting .317 with six RBIs in 11 games since joining Miami. “Any way you can get two or three, you're doing the right stuff. Obviously, celebrate this for maybe an hour or two more, and then we've got Houston, a tough matchup coming in, so focus on them.”