The Tampa Bay Rays dodged heartbreak on Major League Baseball’s biggest stage.
Major League Baseball held game four of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington, Texas on Oct. 24. In a game of wild ups and downs with an astounding finish, game four between the Dodgers and Rays made its case as the best World Series game in recent history.
The Dodgers entered game four up 2 games to 1, seeking a 3-1 lead in the franchise’s third World Series appearance in the last four years. Despite the team’s continued success, until this point they had struggled to win it all. Although the Dodgers were eventually crowned 2020 baseball champions of the world, game four followed a different narrative, giving the Rays the most hope they had seen all series.
The Dodgers jumped to a quick 1-0 lead in just the first inning, adding to that in the third to make it 2-0. The Rays did not remain silent though, and after five innings the score was Dodgers 4, Rays 2. This is where the game started to get hectic. In the four remaining innings, not one resulted in a zero on the box score, setting a World Series record in half-innings straight scored. Consequently, by the time it was the Rays’ turn to bat in the bottom of the ninth the score was Dodgers 7, Rays 6.
As a baseball fan, this is the best thing you could possibly ask for. Runs scored late in the game, keeping both sides on the edge of their seats waiting in heavy anticipation for the next pitch. Ultimately, the game would result in four lead changes, with the majority of Los Angeles relying on two-out heroics. These last-minute victories are what make sports so appealing, and quite frankly what makes this game so memorable. However, before jumping into arguably one of the wildest endings in sports history though, the attention must be directed towards Brett Phillips.
Every game has a standout player, but quite frankly, Brett Phillips was not meant to be the Rays’ hero. Phillips had only played in 23 games for the Ray’s leading up to game four and had never even seen an at-bat in the postseason his entire career. Mainly used as a pinch-runner and defensive substitute, Phillips garnered a .202 batting average throughout his full professional career, which is well below average. Yet, Phillips found himself as Ray’s last hope, facing Dodgers veteran Kenley Jansen with two on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. As Phillips puts it himself, all he had going for him was “An unrelenting belief that things were gonna work out.” And despite a 90% Dodgers win percentage at the time of the at-bat, things were able to work out.
Phillips found himself in the at-bat with a 1-2 count, the Dodgers being literally just one strike away from a crucial game four victory that would likely decide the outcome of the series. Instead, what ensued was utter chaos. On a 92 mile per hour cutter from Jansen, Phillips made contact, putting the ball in play to center field ensuring that one run would score to tie the game. On a routine ground ball Dodgers center fielder, Chris Taylor committed the first error of the play, when the ball deflected off of his glove. Despite this, there was no reason to panic, as the winning run for the Ray’s had not even reached third base yet.
In a gutsy call, Ray’s third base coach Rodney Linares sent the winning run in Randy Arozarena’s home. This would allow Taylor to recover from his mistake and throw home as Arozarena tripped halfway down the third-base line. Just when the Dodgers looked as though they could escape collapse, their second and most costly error of the inning took place. Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner acted as the cut-off man between Taylor and Catcher Will Smith. Yet when Turner threw the ball home to Smith to apply the tag, Smith never caught the ball, ultimately allowing Arozarena to score the winning run. Phillips was the hero as Rays players stormed the field in victory, while Dodgers players walked to their clubhouse in disbelief and defeat.
This game was everything that a baseball game should be. Exciting, emotional, memorable, but most importantly, unpredictable.
It will be extremely difficult for game four of the 2020 World Series to be topped any time soon. With one strike to go, the odds were in extreme favor of the Dodgers, and every fan lucky enough to be watching that last pitch was undoubtedly overcome with amazement.
Overall, baseball provides fans with something that no other major sport does, the idea that the game is never truly over until it is over. This is why players have been so passionate this postseason and never giving up on their teams. In the end, game four was a perfect example of the beauty in baseball.