This has been a very entertaining World Series so far. It would be hard to top last night’s crazy finish, which saw the Rays win in the bottom of the ninth after being down by a run with two outs and runners on first and second. Tampa Bay had just the guy they wanted at the plate: Brett Phillips, who wasn’t even on the active roster until the World Series and was 0 for 2 in his previous plate appearances, and has a lifetime .202 average in 337 at-bats over four seasons. Okay, maybe they would have preferred someone else, but Phillips was all that was left after manager Kevin Cash had emptied his bench trying to keep up with the Dodgers.
Because the gods love unlikely sports heroes, of course Phillips got his first postseason hit, a single, which scored Kevin Kiermeier easily from second. Centerfielder Chris Taylor muffed the ball and Randy Arozarena was waved home. He stumbled coming around third, though, and did a roll, popping up to see that the ball was being thrown home. He started back toward third, but then Dodger catcher Will Smith missed the relay throw trying to prepare for a sweep tag, so Arozarena changed his mind and ran toward the plate, sliding headfirst uncontested as Smith ran to try to recover the ball.
Both Taylor and Smith were charged with errors on the play, making this the first World Series game to end on an error since Bill Buckner’s ignominious “ball through the legs” error in the 1986 Series.
Phillips, who was hyperventilating after what had to be one of the most exciting moments of his baseball life, needed an IV afterwards because of an elevated heart rate. No kidding. If I’d done what he just did, I’d probably be dead.
(Unrelated, but every time I hear “Arozarena” – which is pronounced “Ah rose ah rayna” – I think of Rose Arena in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, home of the Central Michigan University Chippewas. Any other CMU alumni thinking the same thing?)
The Rays’ win tied the Series at two games each, meaning the fun will go on for at least two more games. There’s been some discussion about MLB’s 2020 champion needing an asterisk due to the shortened 60-game season. While I had my doubts then baseball resumed in July, it was entertaining and good baseball, and even the expanded playoffs (something I’m not usually a fan of because I’m a cranky old dude) have been fun to watch.
This is a real World Series. No asterisks needed.