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Rays are heading to the World Series
Sports Pulse: The. Rays are going to the World Series for the first time since 2008
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off one of the wildest finishes in World Series history, stunning the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-7, and evening the World Series at 2-games apiece.
Down to their last strike, Brett Phillips hit a two-out single that was going to tie the game, but when center fielder Chris Taylor had trouble picking it up, Arozarena was sent home. He started running, but three-fourths of the way to home, fell down. Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy’s throw caromed off the glove off catcher Will Smith, and as the ball rolled to the backstop, Arozarena slid home, scoring the winning run, and slapping his palm on home plate.
It was an instant World Series classic.
“I’m about to live 15 years shorter,” said Rays’ Brandon Lowe. “My God, I think I lost 10 years on that last play. That a storybook baseball game. That was insane.”
The Dodgers had led for 14 consecutive innings with Turner becoming the first player in World Series history to homer in the first inning in back-to-back games. They were cruising with a 4-2 lead until the Rays’ dormant offense finally came to life.
It began with rookie Randy Arozarena leading off the sixth with his third hit of the game, and 26th of the postseason, tying Pablo Sandoval (2014) for the most hits in a single postseason. Ji-Man Choi walked, but pinch-hitter Austin Meadows struck out on three pitches. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoned Pedro Baez out of the bullpen to face Lowe.
Lowe, who hit two home runs in Game 2, drove a 95-mph fastball into the left-center-field seats, giving the Rays a 5-4 lead, stunning the pro-Dodgers crowd of 11,441.
The lead didn’t even last a half-inning.
The Dodgers came right back with a leadoff single by Corey Seager and a double by Turner, but were still on the basepaths when reliever Nick Anderson intentionally walked Cody Bellinger, loading the bases. Pinch-hitter Joc Pederson stepped to the plate, and stroked Anderson’s 94-mph fastball into shallow right field, caroming off Lowe’s glove, scoring two runs and a 6-5 Dodgers’ lead.
THE GREAT RANDINO: Arozarena sets postseason HR record
It was the Rays’ turn for heroics in the bottom of the seventh when Kevin Kiermaier tied the game with a one-out homer off Baez, tying the game at 6-apiece. It was the first time in World Series history that a team homered in four consecutive innings.
It was a game of tag.
The Dodgers took a 7-6 lead when Taylor led off with a double off the center-field field wall. And once again with two outs, and two strikes, Seager came through with a bloop single to left field off Anderson. It was only the fourth time in World Series history that two teammates had at least four hits in a game.
It was also the first time in World Series history that a run had been scored in eight consecutive half innings, and the first where both teams had scored in three consecutive innings.
The Dodgers scored all seven of their runs with two outs, meaning that 60.6% of their runs scored this postseason have been with two outs, the highest in history.
Dodgers starter Julio Urias, 24, gave up just four hits and struck out eight in 4 ⅔ innings, generating a career-high 20 swings and misses, but two of those hits traveled a combined 843 feet on home runs by Arozarena and Hunter Renfroe.
It was Arozarena’s ninth homer of the postseason, the most in baseball history, giving him more homers in 18 postseason games than he hit (eight) in 42 regular-season games.
Arozarena and Babe Ruth are the only players in history to average a homer in 12.0 at-bats or less in the regular season and postseason, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
With the series now even, the Rays head into Game 5 on Sunday and face Clayton Kershaw.
It’s now a best-of-three series.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale