ARLINGTON, Tex. — Don’t count out the Tampa Bay Rays.
In what was the most entertaining game of the MLB postseason, Tampa took every punch that the Los Angeles Dodgers had to offer en route to winning Game 4 of the World Series by a score of 8-7.
Tampa Bay, using seven pitchers and five bench players, stunned the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth inning when Brett Phillips connected with a single off L.A. closer Kenley Jansen.
The hit by Phillips, who was left off Tampa’s ALCS roster, allowed Kevin Kiermaier to score from second base to tie the game. Centerfielder Chris Taylor bobbled the ball as Tampa’s Randy Arozarena came around third to try and score, with the relay throw home beating him by several steps. The ball, however, squirted away from Dodger catcher Will Smith.
Arozarena, who tripped on his way to the plate, was able to recover and score the winning run to tie the series.
“I’m having a hard time putting my emotions into words. First of all, what a great team effort on this win. It took almost 28 guys — that’s what’s special about this team, we just all come together for one goal and that’s to win. We don’t rely on one guy. It takes everyone, and man baseball is fun,” said an out-of-breath Phillips moments after the comeback was completed.
“Golly, what a special moment,” he remarked. “I just want to thank God for the opportunity.”
Phillips was asked about his approach at the plate with two strikes against him and the game on the line.
“Just trying to slow things down,” he explained. “Obviously myself being a high-energy player and moments like that, sometimes it’s tough to slow down. God willing I was able to get a good pitch there and help the team win just like everyone else did tonight.
“Honestly it’s hard to believe that… that just happened. Once I saw Randy slip, I was like ‘Oh shoot, at least we tied it up,’ and then he missed the ball and I don’t know what happened and he scored.
“The next thing I know I’m airplaning around the outfield and I get dog piled and here I am.”
It was quite the finish to the epic contest. The Dodgers scored all seven of their runs with two outs, but it wasn’t enough.
L.A opened the scoring courtesy of a solo run home by Justin Turner, his second first-inning homer in as many days. He became the first player in World Series history to hit first inning bombs in consecutive games.
In the top of the third, Corey Seager ripped his eighth postseason home run to put L.A. up 2-0. He briefly tied Arozarena and three others (Nelson Cruz, 2011; Carlos Beltran, 2004; and Barry Bonds, 2002) for the most home runs in a single postseason, before Arozarena’s solo shot in the bottom of the fourth gave him the MLB record, making the score 2-1.
Max Muncy’s RBI single in the fifth pushed the lead to 3-1, though Tampa’s Hunter Renfroe ripped a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning to make it a 3-2 game.
Kike Hernandez notched a RBI double in the sixth to make it 4-2, before the Rays’ Brandon Lowe went yard, a three-run shot, to give Tampa a 5-4 lead.
Joc Pederson came up with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the top of the seventh to give the Dodgers a 6-5, though it was short lived. Kevin Kiermaier drilled a solo home run in the bottom half to tie the game at 6.
Seager’s two-out jam-shot single to left centerfield gave the Dodgers a 7-6 lead in the eighth.
The two teams are back in action tonight, with Clayton Kershaw taking the hill for the Dodgers against Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. PDT on Fox.