“I don’t believe what I just saw” to quote the late Jack Buck.
This was one of the most incredible baseball games I have ever seen in my life.
It was a back and forth game with both teams landing blows. This was like a heavyweight fight, with one boxer landing a big punch, and then the other fighter would counter with a punch of his own.
These two fighters last night were the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neither team wanted to lose.
When the final bell sounded, it was the Tampa Bay Rays that were standing up winners. A split decision. An 8-7 walk-off win for the Rays.
For the Dodgers, a win would mean taking an insurmountable three games to one lead. For the Rays, it meant tying up the series at two games each, getting their swagger back, and getting back in the series.
This game started as the last two games with a solo homer. This one by Justin Turner with two outs to put the Dodgers up 1-0.
The Rays would have to battle back to win it and that’s exactly what they did.
All of the Dodger runs were scored with two outs. Many of the Dodger’s hits came with two strikes on the batter as well.
It was karma as the Rays scored the walk-off run with two outs and two strikes on the batter Brett Phillips.
Who would have thought that two rookies would be involved in one of the greatest plays in Rays history?
Randy Arozarena walked. Brett Phillips singled to center as Keirmaier and Arozarena scored to give the Rays the 8-7 win.
Phillips did not play in the ALCS and had not taken an at-bat since September 25th.
Phillips took 10 swings in the batting cage before stepping up to the plate to face Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen.
Phillips a Tampa native played at Seminole High School. Phillips remembers rooting for the Rays in the 2008 World Series when he was an eighth grader.
Phillips was ecstatic get the game winning hit to help his hometown Rays get back in the series.Every kid that growing playing baseball dreams of getting the game winning hit a World Series game for their home team.
“Definitely want to extend some advice to all the kids out there. Keep dreaming big. These opportunities are closer than you think, and they can come about. So just keep dreaming big, kids. An opportunity like this: have an unrelenting belief that it will happen, because it does.Things like this do happen. And it’s awesome.”
There were two errors on the final play. One by Dodger center fielder Chris Taylor and one by catcher Will Smith that allowed Randy Arozarena to score the go-ahead run.
Those errors might happen once in 100 plays. But that is baseball.
Kevin Cash was rendered somewhat speechless after the game.
“I wish I had better words to describe what the club is feeling like right now. The moment the ball left Phillips’ bat, we knew we had a tie ballgame and then everything that happened afterwards.
“There are about 40 people beside themselves with excitement and wondering what the heck just happened.”
The Rays have scored 18 runs in the series with 14 of those runs coming off the Dodger relievers.
This is why I have said over and over that if you can get to the Dodgers Bullpen the Rays win this series. That is the biggest weakness on this Dodgers team and it is a big one.
The Dodgers have scored 55 runs in the post-season with two outs, and many of those hits and runs coming with two strikes on the batter.
We now have ourselves a series.
Tonight will be a rematch of game one starters Tyler Glasnow for the Rays and Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers.
Glasnow has to be better tonight than he was in game one. Glasnow gave up six runs in four and a third innings in the opener, while Kershaw looked like the second coming of Sandy Koufax.
Kershaw allowed one run and two hits over six innings, while striking out eight.
Hopefully, the Rays offense continues to gather momentum after their ten hit performance last night.
Brandon Lowe has broken out of his slump, Arozarena has started to hit, and the Rays are getting clutch hits from Renfroe, and Keirmaier.
The Rays will have to beat either Kershaw or Walker Buehler to bring the championship to Tampa. They are the two best pitchers on this Dodgers team.
The Dodgers will pitch a bullpen game on Tuesday in game six.
Kershaw is good for having one awful performance in the World Series. Tonight maybe that night.
The Rays need to be patient at the plate, get Kershaw’s pitch count up, and then get to the Dodgers Bullpen.
The first pitch is at 8:08 PM tonight.