Until their final outing in Game 4 of the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays sent Brett Phillips to the plate to face Kenley Johnson. It didn’t match on paper, there were even two runners. But again, no one can imagine what happened next.
After trailing 1-2, Phillips put a single in the middle. Kevin Kiermeyer scored easily to tie the game at 7-7, and it got to all the beams. But once center fielder Chris Taylor hit the ball, a really strange game came out in a matter of seconds.
Randy Arozarena, who read Taylor’s missplay, finished third on the trip and dropped halfway to the home plate. Arozarena lost easily when thrown to the plate, but catcher Will Smith lost it, Arozarena scored and the rays led it to tie the World Series at the rate of two games. You had to watch to believe it.
Of all the disappointing playoff losses the Dodgers have faced over the years, this one should be there. Those misplays cost Clayton Kershaw the chance to hand the ball over to Los Angeles with a 3-1 series lead in Game 5. Instead, Tyler will face Glasgow as Kershaw draws the series 2-2. At this point, here are some observations from the memorable Game 4
How to understand the painful ending?
For an idea of how painful this loss can be for the Dodgers, see the winning probability graph for Game 4:[ADD FG WS CHART]
Or watch Dave Roberts’ reaction to the game’s final game:
Give Phillips credit for the great bat against Johnson, but the Dodgers have no way of losing a game like this. In this case, Johnson, who allowed two bass runners before the Phillips single, must share the blame between Taylor, who has to field the ball clean, and Smith, who has to catch the relay throw.
If the Dodgers lose the series, this loss is not an exaggeration to chase them – probably for a long time. So for Roberts, Kershaw and the Dodgers, the only possible outcomes now are enormous: they will either lose the series they won or win the franchise’s first title in over three decades.
Caesar’s flame drives the Dodgers forward
One night six different players were homemade, burning into the shallow center field, eventually taking the lead late against the Dodgers Rays. With two outs in the eighth inning, Taylor hit second-hand, Nick Anderson Corey Caesar with a 95.3 mph fastball.
Caesar didn’t get much, but the blunder he hit was enough to escape the grip of shortstop Willie Adams and descend into the shallow center field. With that, Caesar had his fourth hit of the game and a .500 batting average for the series.
Questionable bulpen costs for beams
Maybe it will be inevitable at some point. Or the overnight time for the Tampa Bay Bullpen is short. But watching the Bullpen fight of the rays is quite surprising.
Starter Ryan Yarbro was relieved Saturday, Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo and Anderson. We are not accustomed to seeing that kind of fragility from the Tampa Bay Bullpen, and this time the beams will cost a lot more.
The thankfully raced offense has given them bail with five runs in the last six innings, while Fairbanks, Castillo and Anderson all work for zero days rest if needed on Sunday. It is doable, and necessary, not ideal.
Highs and Lowes
In the 14 playoff games that led to the World Series, Brandon Lowe hit .115 / .193 / .173. It was an unexpected setback and a timeless setback for the player who posted .916 OPS in the regular season, but despite Lowe’s struggles the Rays won.
If Kevin Cash and Rays ever tempted Lowe to bench, they never succumbed to those temptations and have been rewarded ever since. The 26-year-old hit two homers in Game 2 of the World Series, and on Saturday night when he stepped down at the bottom of the sixth inning with one run and two runs he did:
That three-run shot was the biggest in Lowe’s career and the biggest in franchise history.
But at the top of the seventh, the Dodgers loaded the bases with two outs. Joke Pederson covered the ball at the end of Lowe’s glove for a two – run single that gave the Dodgers the lead again.
Arozarena makes home run history
Four players in Big-League history who entered the play on Saturday scored eight home runs in a single post-season:
Barry Bonds (2002)
Carlos Beltron (2004)
Nelson Cruz (2011)
Randy Arozarena (2020)
In the third inning, Caesar joined that special group with his eighth home run in the 2020 playoffs. The next inning, Arozarena separated himself from Caesar & Co, with his ninth homer in the post-season.
Truth be told, the wild-card round gave Arozarena and Caesar more games than usual, but their victories were impressive.
Urias have high energy
Julio Urias first appeared on the list of Baseball America’s Top 100 Opportunities after the 2013 season. At the time, he was only 17, but his promise was clear even when the Dodgers signed him from Mexico as a teenager.
For seven years and some episodes of the five big-league seasons, Urias is now enjoying a breakout season. The 24-year-old pitched well in the regular season, with 3.27 ERA in 55 innings, and was even more effective in the playoffs.
That trend continued in Game 4 as Urias overcame the beams for 4.2 innings. His fastball topped at 96.1 mph and could look even faster when the rays hit him 17 times on that pitch on his way to nine strikeouts for Urias.
Of the five appearances this post-season, he now has a 1.31 ERA with 25 strikeouts compared to just four walks. It is safe to say that Prospect Clan realized that he was now one of the most important pitchers in one of the best teams in baseball.