On Saturday night, Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña became the second rookie player of nine players who swept the postseason MVP awards, winning both the LCS and World Series Most Valuable Player trophies.
Hernández did it all in the Marlins’ six-game defeat of the National League powerhouse franchise of the 1990s, pitching 5.2 innings in relief before his complete game shutout in Game 5 against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. The Marlins righty struck out 15 Atlanta batters, aided by a generous strike zone on the outside corner, to set a new National League Championship Series single-game record.
Hernández was the Game 1 starter for the National League pennant winners, allowing three runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He was backed by a seven-run pounding of aging legend Orel Hershiser for the victory.
Florida and Hernández emerged as the winners of a Game 5 tiebreaker by the skin of their teeth. The Cuban rookie settled in after allowing four runs through three innings, pitching five more scoreless innings. Closer Robb Nen replaced him after the first two Cleveland batters reached base in the bottom of the 9th inning. David Justice and Jim Thome singled to cut the Marlins’ lead to one run before Nen retired the final batter, Sandy Alomar Jr. Alomar had driven in four of Cleveland’s seven runs with a 2nd inning RBI single and a three-run homer in the 5th inning. He made the last out of the game on a fly ball hit just short of the right field warning warning track (at-bat starts around the 1:16:52 mark below) to strand Thome, representing the tying run, at 1st base.
Hernández’s 1997 World Series MVP award appears to be mainly a reward for the most durable arm of the series. He led all pitchers with 13.2 IP and struck out seven Cleveland hitters. Jaret Wright led all pitchers with 12 strikeouts in the series. Both of Hernández’s victories benefitted from generous run support by the Florida offense.
Hernández finished second in National League Rookie of the Year award voting that year, losing to Scott Rolen of Philadelphia. He would be selected for two All-Star teams over a 17-year career, pitching in one more World Series for the losing San Francisco Giants in 2002.
Featured Image: Exterior photo of Marlins Park, home to the Marlins Baseball Team, completed in 2012 and located at 501 Marlins Way LoanDepot Park by Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com.