Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez tips his cap before a game against the Tigers. Alvarez didn’t allow a single hit in the game to end the season with the franchise’s fifth no-hitter. (Reuters)
MIAMI — Mike Redmond has his one-liner ready to go.
“That’s how the Fish roll right there - a walk-off, no-hitter wild pitch,” the Miami Marlins’ manager joked. “Why not? It ends the season in grand style.”
It certainly did.
Henderson Alvarez pitched the no-hitter, and Miami scored in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Detroit Tigers 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.
In the bottom of the ninth, Giancarlo Stanton singled, advanced to second on Logan Morrison’s hit and to third on a wild pitch.
With two outs, Chris Coghlan worked an eight-pitch walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs came up next.
“I was thinking: ‘God, please give us a run’,” said Alvarez, who was on deck when the winning run scored.
Alvarez’s prayers were answered when reliever Luke Putkonen (1-3) threw a wild pitch to allow Stanton to score from third.
“The kid (Alvarez) was terrific,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who rested some of his best hitters — including Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez — as his team prepares for the playoffs. “But even with the guys we had in there, we have to hit better.”
It was the third no-hitter in baseball this season and the fifth in Marlins’ history. The last Marlins pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Anibal Sanchez in 2006.
Alvarez (5-6) hadn’t thrown a no-hitter since he was seven years old and playing Little League ball in his native Venezuela. But even that no-no was only seven innings.
The Marlins finished the season with the worst record in the National League at 62-100, but they swept this weekend’s series with the Tigers, who already had clinched the American League Central and had little to play for.
Detroit finished the regular season 93-69.
Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria kept the no-hitter intact with a spectacular leaping catch of a Ramon Santiago line drive in the third inning.
In the ninth, Alvarez made two consecutive plays on comebackers by Alex Avila and Don Kelly. Alvarez fell back on the first one and jumped up on the second, which was the harder play.
After his only walk of the game, Alvarez then struck out Matt Tuiasosopo swinging to end the top of the ninth with a 0-0 score.
Alvarez, thinking the score was 1-0 and he had pitched a no-hitter, pumped his fist and ran off the field to celebrate. That’s when he was greeted by Marlins’ veteran third baseman Placido Polanco.
“He told me the game was not over yet,” Alvarez said sheepishly.
Alvarez threw 99 pitches, 66 for strikes.
“Henderson had a lot of movement on his pitches,” Redmond said.
Redmond said that with this being the last game of the season and umpires and players of a mind to end it quickly, “there were a lot of strikes being called.” Redmond also said he would have let Alvarez pitch one more inning had the Marlins not scored in the ninth.
Early on, Alvarez was locked in a duel with five-time All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander, who tossed six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out 10.
Verlander, who has never had a hit in his career while playing mostly in games where there was a DH, nearly doubled in the sixth inning.
But the ball bounced foul, just beyond the reach of right fielder Stanton. Verlander struck out on the next pitch and is now 0-for-26 at the plate in his career.
“Our guys were having a lot of fun with that,” Leyland said of Verlander’s attempt at his first hit.
Leyland said that despite getting swept this weekend, his team got a lot of things accomplished, including getting Sanchez the ERA title.
“This was one of the best/worst series we’ve had, under the circumstances,” Leyland said. “But now we’ve got to get down to business.”
NOTES: Alvarez became the first pitcher since Mike Witt against the Rangers in 1984 to throw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season. It was also the first walk-off no-hitter since the Pirates in 1997 against the Astros. … The Marlins promoted Michael Hill to president of baseball operations, replacing Larry Beinfest, who was fired Friday. Hill, who has been with the Marlins 11 years, had been serving as general manager. The new GM is Dan Jennings, who has been with the Marlins 12 years and was promoted from assistant GM. They will try to turn around a franchise that has had four straight losing seasons. … South Florida media named RHP Jose Fernandez the Marlins’ MVP and Rookie of the Year. Closer Steve Cishek was given the “Good Guy” award, and C Jeff Mathis received the “Jeff Conine Mr. Marlin” honor. … Marlins 2B Donovan Solano, who was beaned on Saturday, sat out Sunday’s game. … The Marlins entered Sunday with a 3.73 team ERA. The team record is 3.83, set in 1997. … Sanchez on Saturday closed out his regular season with a 2.57 ERA. It is his first league ERA title and the seventh in Tigers’ history. The last Tigers’ pitcher to achieve the feat was Verlander in 2011. … The Tigers will open their playoffs Friday at the Oakland A’s. It will be the Tigers’ first trip to the West Coast since April. It is also a rematch of the 2012 American League Divisional Series, when the Tigers won the decisive fifth game in Oakland. … The Tigers have yet to announce their pitching rotation against Oakland. The Game 1 starter could be Verlander, Sanchez or AL wins leader Max Scherzer. The other possibility would be Doug Fister. And the Tigers could come back with their Game 1 starter for the fifth game, if needed.