Marlins phenoms and veterans alike have showcased elite stuff over the years. In coming up with the top five single-game pitching performances in club history, it would have been easy to reference the six no-hitters and call it a day. But we already have a story on that!
1. Josh Beckett
Oct. 25, 2003, at Yankees
In a 21st-century retelling of David vs. Goliath, the underdog Marlins held a 3-2 advantage in the World Series over the mighty Yankees. Josh Beckett had never started on three days' rest, but 72-year-old manager Jack McKeon decided to go with the confident 23-year-old right-hander in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium anyway.
Beckett tossed his second shutout of the postseason, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out nine batters on 107 pitches in a 2-0 victory over a Bronx Bombers lineup that featured Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Beckett tagging Jorge Posada for the final out, then raising his arms in celebration is one of the most iconic images in franchise history. Four years after being selected second overall in the 1999 MLB Draft, Beckett led the Marlins to their second championship and won the World Series MVP Award.
2. Livan Hernandez
Oct. 12, 1997, vs. Braves
In his first postseason start, 22-year-old rookie right-hander Livan Hernandez took advantage of home-plate umpire Eric Gregg's generous strike zone to outduel Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. In front of 51,982 fans at Pro Player Stadium, Hernandez set an NLCS record with 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 complete-game win. He allowed just a solo homer and three hits while walking two and throwing 143 pitches (88 strikes) to give the Marlins a 3-2 series lead. All but one Braves starter struck out at least once, with cleanup hitter Fred McGriff whiffing three times, including to end the game.
Two weeks later, the Cuba-born Hernandez famously proclaimed, "I love you, Miami!" after winning the World Series MVP Award.
3. Edinson Vólquez
June 3, 2017, vs. D-backs
As mentioned, the Marlins have six no-hitters. But not all of them are equal -- at least according to the measurement of Game Score. As it turns out, Edinson Vólquez's no-no (95 Game Score) in a 3-0 victory at Marlins Park edges Kevin Brown's near perfecto (94) in 1997 for the top mark among the six no-hitters.
Vólquez, who signed with the Marlins just over two months after the death of José Fernández, appeared to be headed for an early exit when he collided at first base with leadoff hitter Rey Fuentes. Though Vólquez rolled his right ankle and his hamstring tightened up, he stayed in the game. The 33-year-old right-hander struck out 10 batters, and both of his walks were negated by double plays as he faced the minimum 27 batters.
The 98-pitch outing came on what would have been Yordano Ventura’s 26th birthday. Ventura, who died in an automobile accident that January, was a teammate of Vólquez in Kansas City. Vólquez dedicated the performance to both Ventura and Fernández.
4. José Fernández
Sept. 20, 2016, vs. Nationals
In his final start, José Fernández delivered what might have been the best of his career in a 1-0 victory at Marlins Park. He struck out 12, walked none and retired 21 straight hitters at one point in a career-high-tying eight innings. With runners at the corners and one out in the eighth inning following back-to-back hits, Fernández fanned Danny Espinosa and induced a groundout from Daniel Murphy to wrap his outing after 111 pitches. He earned a Game Score of 88.
5. Ricky Nolasco
Sept. 30, 2009, at Braves
In 2008, Ricky Nolasco pitched a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts against the Giants. But his more impressive feat arrived a year later when the franchise leader in wins (81) and innings (1,225 2/3) set a club record with 16 strikeouts in a 5-4 win at Turner Field. At one point, the 26-year-old right-hander fanned nine in a row, falling one K shy of the Major League record held by Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
With the Marlins ahead 5-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, a two-out fielding error extended the inning. It eventually led to two unearned runs -- the only blemishes against Nolasco, who had opened the game by retiring 14 of the first 15 batters. He exited with two outs in the eighth after a deep flyout on his 123rd pitch.
June 16, 2003
Left-hander Dontrelle Willis pitched a one-hitter against the Mets at Pro Player Stadium in just the eighth start of his Major League career. The lone hit off Willis, who won the NL Rookie of the Year Award that year while helping the Marlins to the World Series title, came on a ground-ball single to left field by Ty Wigginton with one out in the fourth inning. Willis then retired the final 17 batters.