Randy Arozarena slugs into World Series history with 9th post-season home run
Rays OF also stumbles into October lore with winning run vs. Dodgers to tie Series
Hours after slugging his way into World Series history, Randy Arozarena stumbled into October lore.
Is there anything this rookie can't do?
The winning run the Cuban sensation scored in a frenetic ninth inning will have fans talking for years after the Tampa Bay Rays stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 Saturday night, tying the matchup at two games apiece.
"Randy's not used to having to run like that. Normally he's usually trotting," Rays manager Kevin Cash said from Arlington, Texas.
Those same folks might want to remember that much earlier, the 25-year-old outfielder passed Barry Bonds among others for the most home runs in a single post-season. He then joined the top of the list for hits as well.
Arozarena's solo homer leading off the fourth opened the scoring for the Rays and was his ninth of the post-season, and sent him past the previous record of eight shared by Bonds (2002, San Francisco), Carlos Beltran (2005, Houston) and Nelson Cruz (2011, Texas).
The record-setting homer for Randy Arozarena. <a href="https://t.co/IsNBsk1Q8b">pic.twitter.com/IsNBsk1Q8b</a>—@MLBPipeline
None of those three won the World Series. But Arozarena and the Rays are even with the Dodgers and guaranteed to go deeper in this World Series than in the franchise's only other appearance, a five-game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.
His third hit of the night, a single leading off the sixth, set up Brandon Lowe's three-run homer that sparked the seesaw final four innings.
Dramatic game-ending sequence
The only time Arozarena didn't reach base was in the seventh, when his inning-ending double play in the seventh came two batters after Kevin Kiermaier's tying solo homer.
Randy Arozarena this <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> :<br><br>- Record for most HR (9)<br>- Rookie record for most hits (25)<br>- Ties AL record for most XBH (13) <a href="https://t.co/BFDbla0eH5">pic.twitter.com/BFDbla0eH5</a>—@MLBStats
Then came probably Arozarena's most important at-bat, when the Tampa Bay sparkplug drew a seven-pitch walk off closer Kenley Jansen with two outs in the ninth. That set up the dramatic game-ending sequence on Brett Phillips' RBI single.
The Dodgers dropped the ball twice, allowing Arozarena to scramble home and lifting the Rays to victory.
"Once I saw Randy slip, I was like 'Aw, shoot, at least we tied it up,' and then he missed the ball," said Phillips, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth. "I don't know what happened, but then he scored. The next thing I know, I'm airplane-ing around the outfield and I get dogpiled and here I am."
Arozarena tripped and fell before scoring 😳😳😳 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldSeries?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WorldSeries</a> <a href="https://t.co/mt71CJLF2D">pic.twitter.com/mt71CJLF2D</a>—@espn
Arozarena said he was trying to retreat to third after tumbling over.
"We had already tied the game. I was trying to get into a rundown," Arozarena said through a translator. "Then obviously once the ball got past him, I turned around and scored."
Centre-fielder Chris Taylor bobbled the hit, chased after the ball and threw toward the plate as Arozarena rounded third. Arozarena appeared to be an easy out when he stumbled and fell halfway to home, but catcher Will Smith couldn't the relay from first baseman Max Muncy, allowing Arozarena to dive into the plate.
Randy Arozarena<br><br>Regular season career: 8 HR in 42 games<br><br>2020 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a>: 9 HR in 18 games—@ckamka
Down in the dirt, Arozarena kept pounding the plate as the Rays rushed out to celebrate with him.
With the series extended to at least six games, Arozarena has a good chance to break the record of 26 hits in one post-season he now shares with Pablo Sandoval, who did it in 17 games when San Francisco beat Kansas City in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. Arozarena has played 18 games, with more on deck.