Last night, the Florida Marlins were officially eliminated from playoff contention. But considering all the dismantling that has gone on in Florida over the past ten years, this team should hold their heads up high and feel proud of the season they've had.
The Marlins (85-74) put together another winning season and remained alive until the 159th game of the season. They are "the little team that could." It seems like every year, with everything they have working against them, they somehow figure out a way to win. Kudos to them!
Their 85th win, a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves, had a bit of a historical flavor to it. Starter Ricky Nolasco set a team record with 16 strikeouts and at one point recorded 9 straight strikeouts. The 9 straight strikeouts put him in a very exclusive club and was one short of Tom Seaver's major league record (10 consecutive strikeouts). Tom Terrific, as he was known, struck out the final 10 batters he faced to set a then-record, 19 strikeouts in one game.
Nolasco became the 4th pitcher in major league history to have as many as 9 straight strikeouts in a single game. He joined Jake Peavy (9 on April 25, 2007 vs. Arizona); of course Seaver (10 on April 22, 1970 vs. San Diego) and, get this-- Hall of Famer Mickey Welch of the New York Giants, who did it on August 28, 1884. That is correct--1884.
By the way, Welch (r.) was 39-21 with a 2.50 ERA; 62 complete games and 345 strikeouts, in 1884. One thing about these old-timers-- they were no joke.
Now that is some club Nolasco joined last night. And we thought only Ichiro was getting these 19th Century immortals back in the news.
It's worth mentioning, one of the victims in Nolasco's streak was Chipper Jones, who has already said he's coming back for at least one more year with the Braves. This is one of those feel-good baseball stories. Jones is one of those rare one-team players, so it's great to hear that he's putting on a Braves uniform for at least one more season.
The Braves (86-72) once again showed why they are a world-class organization, putting together another great year. The Colorado Rockies, with their win earlier today, officially eliminated the Braves from playoff contention. However, the Braves did make it an interesting race towards the end.
But the Marlins, if they can hold off their annual fire sale, have a decent future ahead of them. Construction of their new stadium in downtown Miami has officially began. If they can hold on to players like Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Jorge Cantu and of course, mega-superstar, Hanley Ramirez (above)-- the Miami Marlins are going to be a fun team to watch.
Welch photo courtesy of the Baseball Hall of FameStats courtesy of baseball-reference.com