Rays Win Seesaw Battle on Wild Final Play
After a dominant performance by Walker Buehler and a hit parade by Corey Seager and Justin Turner led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-2 victory in Game 3, LA looked to take command of the 2020 World Series with a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The stadium roof was open, which means the fans in attendance were less likely to get COVID-19 droplets blown into their faces by their neighbors’ screaming during the dramatic late innings of Game 4.
Series tied 2-2, best of 7
W: John Curtiss; L: Kenley Jansen
The Dodgers took an immediate lead on another first-inning home run by Turner, but they were unable to put the Rays away, leading to a wild finish.
With a 4-2 lead in the 6th inning, Blake Treinen allowed the first two Rays batters to reach base, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. After Treinen punched out Austin Meadows swinging, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made a call to the pen for Pedro Báez, a right-hander, to face lefty power threat Brandon Lowe. Lowe hit his 3rd opposite field bomb of the postseason to give the Rays a 5-4 lead, the first lead change of the entire World Series.
In the 7th inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, the Dodgers regained the lead on Joc Pederson‘s single to right field. Kevin Kiermaier then tied the game in the bottom half of the inning with a one-out home run.
Seager’s single in the 8th inning swung the advantage back to the side of the Dodgers, setting the stage for an incredible walk-off finish by the Rays in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Kenley Jansen, who blew a career-high eight save opportunities during his last full season of play in 2019, had the ball for the Dodgers. A two-out walk to Randy Arozarena, who had homered off Jansen on Friday, advanced Kevin Kiermaier to scoring position. Brett Phillips, a career .202 hitter who had entered the game as a pinch runner in the 8th inning, represented the Rays’ final chance.
Phillips lined a single to center field, which was booted by Chris Taylor. Kiermaier scored the tying run. The relay home by 1B Max Muncy took rookie catcher Will Smith to the right side of the plate, placing Smith’s back to the plate and the third base line. As Smith received the throw, he appeared to stumble on Phillips’s bat, which apparently had not been pushed out of the way by the home plate umpire. Smith then spun toward home, expecting to make a tag on Arozarena, not knowing that Arozarena had slipped between third base and home. Smith lost the ball as he spun for a tag attempt, giving Arozarena time to recover and make a headfirst slide to score the winning run. Arozarena pounded the plate emphatically with his right hand after reaching safely to celebrate a World Series walkoff victory.
The relay to the first base side of home and Jansen’s failure to back up the play at the plate put Smith at a disadvantage when attempting a play at the plate. He received the throw with his back to home and there was no one nearby to inform him that Arozarena had been hung up on the third base line, which could have set up a rundown play and extra innings.
In addition, Dodgers’ regular center fielder, Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP and a Gold Glove Award winner, was in the lineup as designated hitter due to back spasms, which led to Taylor’s appearance in center field during the late innings after a defensive switch.
The Dodgers’ comedy of errors in a game-ending sequence will live forever in World Series history.
Other history was made during Saturday night’s game. Seager’s 3rd inning home run was his eighth of the 2020 postseason, tying the single-year record held by his opponent Arozarena along with seven-time MVP Barry Bonds, among other MLB luminaries. However, Arozarena hit his own dinger in the 4th inning, his 9th of the 2020 postseason campaign, to take sole possession of the record.
The Rays’ astonishing walkoff in Game 4 has knotted the series at two games apiece, setting up a Game 5 tilt to take the advantage in best of three situation. Action begins at the Covid Life Barn in Arlington at 8:08 PM ET. Clayton Kershaw (2020 Postseason: 3-1; 2.88 ERA) will start for the Dodgers in the stopper role, opposite Tyler Glasnow (2020 Postseason: 2-2; 6.08 ERA).
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