10/05/2003 6:05 PM ET
Pudge leaves his mark in NLDS
Looking back at Rodriguez's playoff series
MIAMI -- On the day he signed as a free agent, 10-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez stated this would be "The Year of the Marlins."
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Few believed him on that day in late January.
It's hard to doubt him now.
Stepping up repeatedly in the National League Division Series, Rodriguez almost single-handedly carried the Marlins past the Giants, doing it with his bat, his glove and his desire.
"He really showed his leadership," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "He took charge the way great players do."
On Saturday, the Marlins closed out the Giants, 7-6, in Game 4 at Pro Player Stadium. Fittingly, Rodriguez had a hand in how the memorable game, and series finished.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rodriguez singled with two out and scored the go-ahead run, knocking the ball out of Giants catcher Yorvit Torrealba's glove. That set the stage for a first in Major League history: Rodriguez tagging out a charging J.T. Snow for the final out on a collision at home.
For the first time ever, a postseason series concluded with the tying run being thrown out at the plate.
"I've been in baseball for years, so I've been hit worse than that," Rodriguez said. "That was a big hit, but in that situation I just had to secure the ball in my glove."
After the play ended, closer Ugueth Urbina tackled him, and his teammates piled on in celebration, with Rodriguez refusing to let go. He clung to the ball while being swarmed by reporters on the field. Finally, before exiting through the dugout, the 31-year-old catcher held the ball up in triumph for all 65,494 fans to see.
Here's a game-by-game recap of Rodriguez's Division Series heroics:
Game 1, 2-0 loss at Pacific Bell Park: Stymied by Giants starter Jason Schmidt, Rodriguez had one of the three singles the Marlins scratched out. With one out in the fourth, Rodriguez singled and went to third on Snow's throwing error on a ground out by Derrek Lee. But he didn't score.
Game 2, 9-5 win at San Francisco: The Marlins hammered out 14 hits and came back from a 4-1 deficit to even the series. In the fifth, Rodriguez had an RBI single, tying the game at 4-4.
Game 3, 4-3 win in 11 innings at Pro Player Stadium: Afterwards, center fielder Juan Pierre said, "Pudge put us on his back and carried us." He sure did. Rodriguez drove in all four Marlins runs. In the first inning, he belted a two-run homer to left off Kirk Rueter. And in the 11th, after the Giants took a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning, Rodriguez had two strikes on him with two out when he delivered an opposite-field, two-run single off Tim Worrell. Alex Gonzalez and Pierre scored on the play. Defensively, Rodriguez made a key play in the seventh, throwing out Marquis Grissom trying to steal third.
Game 4, 7-6 win in Miami: Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and two runs scored. In the eighth, he scored the go-ahead run on Miguel Cabrera's RBI single to right. By charging hard, Rodriguez knocked the ball out of Torrealba's glove. When the ball skipped away from the catcher, Lee raced in with a second run on the error. That second run proved crucial. Defensively, Rodriguez picked off Snow at first base, ending a three-run San Francisco sixth inning.
More drama came in the ninth. After the Giants scored a quick run off Urbina, on Snow's RBI single. Ray Durham was hit by a pitch. With two out and Snow representing the tying run at second, Jeffrey Hammonds singled to left. Jeff Conine collected the hit and tossed a one-hopper to Rodriguez. Snow plowed into the sturdy 5-foot-9, 205-pound catcher. Both players were knocked to the ground. When Rodriguez got up with the ball in hand, the game and series were over.
For Rodriguez and his teammates, the celebration was about to begin.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.