The Los Angeles Dodgers were so close to being one win away from a World Series win, and then they fumbled it away.
The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a comeback victory for the ages in World Series Game 4 on Saturday night, a moment that will haunt the Dodgers forever if they eventually lose this series. The Rays scored two runs on a Brett Phillips single that the Dodgers bobbled twice, giving away an 8-7 win that now knots the series at two.
It wasn’t your typical walk-off win, as Phillips singled to center, allowing the tying run to score easily. When Chris Taylor miffed the play, Randy Arozarena trucked home. He looked like dead meat and turned around to head back to the third. But Dodgers catcher Will Smith bobbled the throw and Arozarena raced home for the winning run.
It was a stunning ending to a game that will instantly go down as a classic.
Game 4 was a roller-coaster ride for both teams, but the Rays responded every time the Dodgers came back, giving new life to their World Series hopes.
The Dodgers had scored all their runs on two outs, but the Rays outdid them by scoring the tying and go-ahead run as they were down to their last strike. That the game-winner came off the bat of Phillips was even more unlikely, since he hadn’t gotten a hit in literally a month. He hadn’t even had an at-bat since Game 3 of the Rays’ ALDS against the Yankees.
When the winning run came across the plate, Phillips flew around the field with his arms stretched out like an airplane. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen fell to knees, hopes crushed once again. The series will now be determined by how the Dodgers respond from being so close to a 3-1 lead and then actually dropping the ball.
The Dodgers started the scoring early, as Justin Turner hit a first-inning homer for the second game in a row. When L.A. got another from Seager in the third to make it 2-0, it started to feel like another game where the Dodgers’ offense was going to dominate.
But the Rays battled back with a homer from Randy Arozarena in the fourth inning, starting a back-and-forth that would see each team counterpunching with runs.
The Dodgers added another in the top of the fifth to make it 3-1, but the Rays answered immediately with a Hunter Renfroe homer to make it 3-2. A double by Kiké Hernandez gave the Dodgers a two-run lead again in the sixth. Every clutch hit was met by another from the opposing dugout.
In the bottom of the sixth, Brandon Lowe came up with two runners on and blasted a go-ahead homer for the Rays that made the score 5-4. This tat-for-tat was nothing if not entertaining — but also gut-wrenching for the Dodgers and Rays fans hanging on every pitch.
Every time it felt like maybe the KO was coming, it wasn’t, but another big hit was.
The Dodgers loaded the bases against Nick Anderson in the seventh and pinch-hitter Joc Pederson roped a single into right field just off the glove of Lowe to bring home two runs. As close (and possibly deflating) as that was, the Rays didn’t fold. Kevin Kiermaier homered off Pedro Baez in the bottom of the seventh to tie it again.
In a tense final moment of that half-inning, the Dodgers left Baez in after he walked the potential go-ahead run. Arozarena was up next. Baez had already given up two homers. Was another coming? But the ball bounced the Dodgers’ way, as Arozarena hit the ball up the middle. Hernandez was shifted perfectly to grab the ball and turn a double play.
The Dodgers came up the next inning and went ahead as Seager struck again, hitting a blooper that was just outside the reach of Willy Adames. That looked like enough until Phillips turned everything upside down.
This was all enough to make history, as runs in eight straight half-innings topped a record of six straight from the 1947 World Series.
It was, of course, Phillips’ hit. Just as must-see is his recounting of the play from his point of view after the game.
We move to Game 5 on Sunday now looking at a best-of-three series, with both the Rays and Dodgers trying to take control of the series.
On the mound, it will be a rematch of Game 1 with the Clayton Kershaw facing Tyler Glasnow. The Dodgers liked the result of that matchup, because they won 8-3. Glasnow gave up six runs 4 ⅓ innings the first time around, striking out eight but walking six. Kershaw was much better, going six strong innings, giving up just two hits and striking out eight.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX.
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