Through three games, the 2020 World Series had been, frankly, boring. At the very least, it had been typical. The Dodgers and Rays traded off good starting pitching performances, the hitters supported their slingers, and so everyone carried on their merry little ways. The first eight and five-sixths innings of Game 4 were more entertaining, but it looked like the Dodgers were on the verge of a commanding, series-killing three games to one lead. But then, chaos:
I have been watching baseball since the post-strike season of 1995, and I can confidently say I have never seen a game—never mind a World Series game, one Tampa Bay essentially had to win—end like this. Three player errors, split 2–1 between the Dodgers and Rays, led to the most discombobulating ending I have ever witnessed.
The first of those errors came from Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor, who got tunnel vision when trying to gun down Kevin Kiermaier running home from second to tie the game and accidentally kicked the ball. The second, and funniest, came from Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, who—well, let’s take a look at it again from a different angle:
Finally, Dodgers catcher Will Smith closed his glove a bit too early on the relay throw home, letting the ball fly into the backstop, which allowed Arozarena enough time to collect himself after eating dirt and slide into home, pounding the plate in disbelief. Just like that, on a play that could have ended the game for the Dodgers, the Rays had tied the series up.
Though Arozarena and his Benny Hill–esque winning run will be the lasting image from this game, the best moment came from Phillips, the night’s real hero. The rarely used Florida kid just had what is likely the biggest hit in the Rays’ checkered history. After Arozarena smacked home plate, Phillips was chased by his entire team while he airplaned around the outfield in a state of pure, blissful delirium:
It was a hell of an ending for a night where Phillips likely was not expected to provide heroics. He had only come into the game as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the eighth, but there he was, with the weight of Tampa Bay’s championship hopes on his shoulders. He got help from the Dodgers, but for one night, the guy from Seminole, the batter who has hit .202 for his career, the unlikeliest of heroes was the one to carry the day for the Rays. Let’s hope the rest of the series looks more like this and less like what came before.