Record-breaker Arozarena savors unlikely Rays win
Randy Arozarena made postseason home run history Saturday, but it’s his stumbling, scrambling, sliding score that will be remembered from the Tampa Bay Rays’ game-four victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
That’s OK with Arozarena, the Rays’ rookie sensation who scored the game winner in Tampa Bay’s incredible 8-7 victory that leveled the 116th World Series at two games apiece.
The 25-year-old from Cuba entered Major League Baseball’s record books with his ninth home run of these playoffs in the fourth inning.
The leadoff blast saw him break out of a tie with Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz.
“It feels really good to break the record and be on top, but the most important thing is that we got the win, that we came out victorious in such a tough game,” Arozarena said.
Arozarena was 3-for-4 at the plate on Saturday. His third hit of the night, a single to lead off the sixth, set the stage for Brandon Lowe’s three-run home run.
It gave Arozarena his 26th hit of the post-season, tying Pablo Sandoval’s overall record for a single playoffs and breaking the mark for three-hit games with his fifth.
In the ninth, he battled Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen through seven pitches to draw a walk after teammate Kevin Kiermaier had singled — setting the stage for the Rays’ dramatic last-inning rally.
With the Rays down to their last out, Brett Phillips singled, scoring Kiermaier.
But when Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor bobbled the ball Arozarena, racing from first base, was given the green light to head for home.
But he stumbled between third and home, first trying to go back to third before the Dodgers muffed the play at the plate and he was able to slide head first for the winning run.
“All I was thinking about was just running hard,” he said. “I got to a certain spot and I saw that the ball got bobbled. I got sent home.
“Obviously I tripped… Once the ball got past him, I was able to turn around and score.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash quipped that his team’s home run machine wasn’t used to rounding the bases under such pressure.
“Randy’s not used to having to run like that,” Cash said. “Normally he’s just trotting.”