The Rays eked out a dramatic 8-7 walk-off win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night to tie the best-of-seven Fall Classic at 2-2 (box score). Reserve outfielder Brett Phillips notched a game-tying single in the ninth off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, and Randy Arozarena was also able to score on an error by center fielder Chris Taylor and then a mishandled throw by L.A. catcher Will Smith, who was also later charged with an error.
It had already been a wild game before one of the wildest culminations to a World Series game in living memory came along. Here's a look at the final play:
Game 4 was a back-and-forth affair in which the two team's bullpens combined to allow 11 of the 15 runs scored. It was also the first game in postseason history in which at least one run was scored in eight consecutive half innings.
At one point in the sixth inning, the Dodgers had almost an 80 percent chance of winning Game 4, but that was soon flipped to a better than 70 percent chance for the Rays to win. The Dodgers clawed back in the eighth, however, to regain the lead. Then, of course, the madness above happened, and the Rays, despite being one strike away from being down 3-1 in the series, have drawn even.
The win expectancy chart from Game 4 sums up the madness:
Now for some things to know about an unforgettable Game 4.
The sequence in the ninth won't soon be forgotten
Phillips, who notched the final hit of the game, had batted just twice the postseason, all in the ALDS. That's two at-bats in 29 days and none since Oct. 7. He's a career .202 hitter, and now he's on this exclusive list:
Walk-Off Hit with 2 Outs and Team Trailing in a World Series Game:— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 25, 2020
Brett Phillips (2020 Game 4)
Kirk Gibson (1988 Game 1)
Cookie Lavagetto (1947 Game 4)
It's also worth nothing that Jansen for his career has allowed a .117 batting average after getting to two strikes on the batter.
As long as we're talking about relevant absurdities, let's note that Chris Taylor wasn't really supposed to be manning center at that critical moment. Cody Bellinger is the Dodgers' regular center fielder, but he was on DH detail for Game 4 after waking up with some back stiffness. His replacement in center, A.J. Pollock, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and Taylor slid over to center from left in the bottom half of that frame.
On the play above, Taylor's concern probably should've been the trailing runner, Arozarena. He had little chance of throwing out Kiermaier at the plate, but in his haste he kicked the ball away. That allowed Arozarena to dash home, but as you see above he stumbled and fall between third and the plate. If Smith fields Max Muncy's throw cleanly, then Arozarena is out easily. However, Smith committed the third gaffe in the last, oh, eight seconds, and Arozarena dived in safe with the winning run.
Arozarena keeps crushing the ball
Rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena has been the driver for the Rays in these playoffs, and the World Series has been no exception. In Game 4 he homered for the ninth time this postseason, and that put him back in front of Seager for the record for most home runs in a single postseason. He also added to the record he set in Game 3 for most hits in a single postseason by a rookie.
The emerging book on Arozarena is that you need to be very careful throwing him fastballs. So it's curious that Julio Urias opted to throw him a first-pitch fastball, particularly when he has a good changeup and breaking ball.
In all, Arozarena in Game 4 tallied three hits and worked a critical seven-pitch walk off Jansen in the ninth. He would of course come around the score the winning run.
The Dodgers continued to come up big with two outs
Overall, the Dodgers' offense in this series has an OPS of .906, which means they're hitting in any context. With two outs, however, that figure has increased to a fairly absurd 1.192. Sixteen of the Dodgers' 25 RBI in this series have also come with two out.
That was again the storyline in Game 4, at least until the bottom of the ninth. In the first inning, Justin Turner homered off Ryan Yarbrough with two outs, and in doing so he became the first player to homer in the first inning of back-to-back World Series games. As well, that was Turner's 12th career postseason home run, which breaks a tie with Duke Snider for the franchise record. In the interest of equal time, Turner's played in almost twice as many postseason games as Snider did.
Soon thereafter, Corey Seager added a two-out homer of his own, and for a few minutes he was tied with Randy Arozarena across the way for the most home runs in a single postseason. Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez drove in runs with two outs, and then in seventh Joc Pederson notched perhaps the biggest hit of the series (to that point) when his two-out double plated the tying and go-ahead runs.
After a Kevin Kiemaier solo homer tied it up again, Corey Seager came up in the eighth with two outs and the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. The ball left Seager's bat at a meager 66.3 mph, but it found grass and gave the Dodgers the lead once more. That occasioned this:
In the end, all seven of the Dodgers' runs in Game 4 were scored with two outs. The Rays, though, scored a pair of their own in the final frame.