Rays tie series in instant classic
Well, Saturday night’s Game Four between the Rays and the Dodgers was quite easily one of the very best baseball games I can remember watching. Obviously there is some recency bias involved with that statement, but this was an incredible back-and-forth affair with an ending for the ages.
This one got off to a similar start as Game Three, which saw the Dodgers end up cruising to a relatively early victory. I say that to mean L.A. jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a Justin Turner homer. They’d extend their lead in the third, too, when Corey Seager hit his eighth homer of the postseason. These were both solo homers, so it was only a 2-0 lead at this point.
The Rays started to come back in the fourth, and it was Randy Arozarena once again doing the damage. He hit a solo homer of his own in the fourth, pulling Tampa back to within one and also giving him the most homers in a single postseason with nine. It should go without saying the extra round helped out a bit on that front, not to take anything away from what has been an incredible run.
That run in the bottom of the fourth for the Rays was the start of absolute madness in this game, being the first of eight straight half innings with at least one run scored. Things took even another level up in madness heading into the bottom of the sixth when the Dodgers held a 4-2 lead. The Rays got their first two men on in that inning, and eventually Pedro Báez came on with those two on and one out. He quickly made a mistake, with Brandon Lowe on the other end of it. The Rays second baseman smashed a three-run shot the other way, and just like that it was a Rays lead with a 5-4 score.
This was a back-and-forth affair, however. Nick Anderson was in for Tampa in the seventh, and he started things off with a single and a double, putting two in scoring position before recording an out. It looked like the Dodgers would waste the chance, but Joc Pederson saved the day with a huge two out hit. His liner to the right side just glanced off Lowe’s glove on a dive attempt, sneaking into right for a two-run single and giving L.A. the lead once again. It would be short-lived, as Kevin Kiermaier crushed a solo shot in the bottom of the inning to tie the game right back up.
In the eighth, it was another two-out run for the Dodgers to take the lead right back, as Seager was the one to come through this time. He hit a little bloop out to left that brought Chris Taylor around from second, and L.A. was six outs away from taking a 3-1 series lead. They got the first three without much issue as Adam Kolarek and Brusdar Graterol combined for a scoreless eighth.
The ninth, though, got weird. Kiermaier got on with a one-out, broken bat bloop single to start things off, and a couple batters later Randy Arozarena drew a walk with two outs. That put two on with two outs, and Brett Phillips was coming up. Phillips had come in to run for Ji-Man Choi in the eighth, and was getting his first at bat of the series. He worked a full count before lacing one through the shift into center field. That should have tied the game and left it up to Austin Meadows, but it didn’t get that far. Kiermaier scored easily, and as Arozarena was heading into third base Taylor botched the play coming in on the ball and dropped it. That allowed Arozarena to try and score, but he fell halfway between third and the plate, opening the play back up. The Dodgers had plenty of time on a relay, but Max Muncy’s throw was on the wrong side of the plate and Will Smith thought Arozarena was closer. He went for the sweep tag but forgot the ball, allowing Arozarena to come in to score despite his tripping.
And that was that, one of the most absolutely bananas endings I have ever seen. With it, the Rays tied the series at two games apiece. The pivotal Game Five will be Sunday night at 8:09 PM ET. Clayton Kershaw takes on Tyler Glasnow in a Game One rematch.
Hendriks, Williams win Relievers of the Year
Most of the awards are handed out after the conclusion of the postseason, but the relievers get their shine while the World Series is still going on. Typical reliever disrespect, am I right? Anyway, the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year for the American League went to Oakland’s Liam Hendriks while the Trevor Hoffman Reliever of the Year of the National League went to Milwaukee’s Devin Williams. It’s hard to take a reliever award too seriously over a shortened season, but with that said it’s hard to argue with these two choices. As for the Red Sox, it will shock you to hear they had to real candidate in this race.