Brandon Lowe hit a critical three-run home run — one of four for the Rays — while Brett Phillips walked it off in the ninth inning, as Tampa Bay defeated Los Angeles on Saturday, 8-7. The World Series is now tied at two games apiece.
My words cannot adequately express how intense Saturday’s contest was. It might not even be worth trying. I will say this though, if the FanGraphs WPA graph (above) was a roller coaster, it would have been a truly wild and thrilling ride. From the fourth inning on, each team traded blows which set up the improbable walk-off win sparked by Kevin Kiermaier and Randy Arozarena, and with Phillips at the plate. Tampa Bay is now 8-1 in the postseason when they score four runs or more.
For what it’s worth, Dave and Andy articulated things well during the broadcast. They opined that while the Rays may not be as good as the Dodgers, at least on paper, the best teams don’t always win the World Series. Rather, it is the team that takes advantage of the opportunities handed to them. Dave and Andy cited the ’88 Dodgers who weren’t necessarily better than the Athletics, yet they won it all. In their perspective, the Rays simply needed a magical moment akin to Kirk Gibson’s legendary homer — an October moment if you will. Last night’s game very well could have been that.
Down by a pair in the fourth inning, Arozarena belted a first-pitch Julio Urias fastball over the wall in right-center to put the Rays on the board. It was his ninth postseason blast, a new big league record — also allowing him to tie Evan Longoria for the franchise career mark.
But the Dodgers answered Arozarena’s homer with a run of their own, however, Hunter Renfroe kept the Rays in the thick of things by blasting a tape-measure solo homer into the second deck in left field, 444 feet away. Renfroe’s massive blast came off the bat at 111.4 mph.
Still, Los Angeles immediately answered in the top of the sixth … but so did Tampa Bay in the home half of the inning.
After Arozarena led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, and Ji-Man Choi earned a free pass, Lowe muscled a 95 mph fastball over the outer third of the plate into the Rays bullpen in left-center, giving Tampa Bay its first lead of the night.
Even so, the Dodgers again answered with two runs in the top of the seventh. Not to be outshined, Tampa Bay also responded with a run in the bottom of the frame.
Kiermaier got all of a hanging 88 mph cement mixer and sent it into the stands in right, tying the game at six.
As with any good boxing match, Los Angeles battled back and took a one-run lead, scoring another two-out run in the top half of the eighth inning, while former Ray Adam Kolarek and Brusdar Graterol teamed up to throw a zero up on the board, setting up the epic ninth-inning comeback against Kenley Jansen.
Jansen allowed a one-out blooper right to Kiermaier, however, Joey Wendle lined to left-center. That allowed Arozarena, who homered off Jansen on Friday, to step into the box with a man on the base paths. Jansen clearly wanted nothing to do with Arozarena and worked around (the new) Mr. October, ultimately allowing him to reach on a free pass. Phillips, who wasn’t on the ALCS roster and pinch-ran an inning earlier, hit a bloop of his own into right-center, allowing Kiermaier to cross the plate.
The ball was bobbled in right-center, although Arozarena slipped and fell as he rounded third. However, Will Smith lost the off-line throw at the plate as Arozarena got back up and dashed home to end the game in dramatic fashion.
The New What Next
On Sunday, Tyler Glasnow (2-2, 6.08 ERA) will pitch opposite of Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 2.88 ERA) in a rematch of game one.
Tyler Glasnow couldn’t keep the Dodgers down on Tuesday. That was due to six free passes. Over his first three frames, Glasnow allowed two walks and a hit while striking out five. However, in the fourth, Max Muncy started the frame by walking on five pitches, then moved into second when Will Smith bounced out slowly to third. Cody Bellinger followed with a two-run homer into the Rays bullpen for a two-run lead. Then in the fifth, Glasnow allowed two more runs on a walk, three stolen bases, and a pair of base hits. The right-hander gave up just three hits, although his six walks were the most he’s allowed with Tampa Bay. Otherwise, he fanned eight on 112 pitches (58 strikes, 52% strike rate, 17% SwStr%).
Clayton Kershaw allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out eight across six innings against Tampa Bay. Kershaw’s only mistake was a fifth-inning solo home run to Kevin Kiermaier. Kershaw coaxed 19 swinging strikes on just 78 pitches (53 strikes, 68% strike rate, 36% SwStr%). Interestingly enough, five Rays — Yandy Diaz (.490, .310, and .160 xBA), Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, and Hunter Renfroe (.440 xBA) — made solid, albeit unlucky, contact off Kershaw, who relied primarily on his slider (35, 45%) and four-seam fastball (31, 40%), while also throwing his whiffy curveball (12, 15%). Given that, it will be interesting to see if and how the Rays approach at the plate changes tonight.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 10/25/20 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 1B
- Arozarena DH
- B. Lowe 2B
- Margot LF
- Renfroe RF
- Wendle 3B
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- Zunino C
— From Neil’s (Solondz, Rays Radio) lips to your ears: “Saturday’s win was just the third World Series game that ended in walk-off fashion, where the winning team trailed prior to the final pitch. It also was just the fifth World Series game to end on an error. In addition, it was the first postseason game where the two teams scored in eight consecutive half innings.”