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World Series 2020: Tampa Bay Rays revel, Los Angeles Dodgers despair as Game 4 delivers baseball bliss

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It happened just past midnight on the East Coast, 34 years to the day the last time a World Series game concluded like this. There are so many possible outcomes for the final play of a baseball game. Home run. Strikeout. Single. Groundout. It's a testament to how good players are that what unfolded in the earliest hours of Sunday morning was so jaw-dropping, an unforgettable October moment, when a fielding error ends a World Series game.

Actually, it was two errors. A game like this, jam-packed with the very things that make baseball so addictive, deserved no less than something historic -- something even more improbable than Bill Buckner's infamous gaffe Oct. 25, 1986. The denouement of Game 4 -- Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith dropping a ball at home plate that allowed Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena to dash home, pound home plate with his right hand and gift-wrap their breathtaking 8-7 victory -- squashed a potential coronation and breathed life into a series that's again even.

How these 4 hours, 10 minutes of pure baseball bliss came together only adds to the implausibility of it all, but then that's why this game is bound to go down in the annals as one of the most memorable in the 116 World Series that have been played. Even before Brett Phillips looped a two-out, two-strike pitch off Kenley Jansen into center field, even before Chris Taylor committed the other error, booting the ball as he tried to field it, even before Arozarena stumbled after rounding third, even before Smith's howler let him off the hook, this was a righteous ballgame, an emotional vise, squeezing tighter and tighter until the whole thing was too much and burst in spectacular fashion.cheap youth nfl jerseys

It all started around 2 p.m. on Aug. 27. Four days before the trade deadline, the Kansas City Royals had agreed to a deal to send Phillips, a backup outfielder, to the Rays. Phillips was elated. He was from Seminole, Florida, a 20-minute drive from Tropicana Field. It didn't matter that he would get only 25 plate appearances and be used mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He was home. And this amazing Rays team embraced him, too.6

Which admittedly isn't difficult. Phillips is one of the most well-liked players in baseball. When he laughs, it sounds like a goose honking or a pterodactyl bleating. Last week in the ALCS, when he wasn't even on the Rays' roster, he nevertheless spent the games in the team's dugout, walking around with a stopwatch and clipboard, a faux coach who would write motivational messages, most of which had to do with Arozarena's postseason exploits.

It was fitting, then, for the Rays and Phillips, that the ninth inning of Game 4 unfolded in such fashion. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who had foolishly left reliever Pedro Baez in to blow two leads earlier in the game, forsook his hard-throwing rookie reliever Brusdar Graterol, who had finished the eighth inning, and at one minute past midnight summoned Jansen, hopeful his magic had not vanished for good.

By no means in this series, or this season, were the Dodgers the Cinderellas of any manner or variety. They are leviathans in payroll and talent, and if Jansen could secure the 7-6 lead Roberts handed him, they would hold a 3-1 series lead and find themselves in prime position to win their first World Series since just two years after the Buckner error.

The Rays' lineup and Dodgers' defensive alignments were complete messes, owed to what had happened in the four or so hours prior. The first three games of this series weren't duds exactly. The Dodgers had hit at a historic clip with two outs. The Rays had stolen the middle game. There wasn't a single lead change. Good baseball was played by two excellent baseball teams. Drama has been hard to come by.

Game 4 made up for it. There were home runs. From the Dodgers' Justin Turner in the first and Corey Seager in the second, highlights on a night when both went 4-for-5, and all for naught. From Arozarena and Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe and Kevin Kiermaier as the Rays fought and clawed and tried to keep pace. Every time they did, the Dodgers answered with more. They barreled balls the whole evening, hitting 19 at 95 mph-plus to the Rays' seven. That Tampa Bay was even here, within a run and ready to stare down Jansen, felt like providence.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

When Jansen blew a sinker past pinch hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo for the first out, the crowd of 11,411 at Globe Life Field, which has turned into Dodgertown South, roared. This was it. They were going to win Game 4, and then Clayton Kershaw, pitching 30 minutes from his hometown of Highland Park, Texas, was going to pitch them to victory in Game 5, and the postseason demons of their iconic pitcher would vanish alongside those of an iconic franchise going on three decades without the most meaningful sort of hardware.

Kiermaier swung at a first-pitch cutter, 93 mph, the kind of velocity Jansen only found in recent days. It sawed Kiermaier's bat all the way down to the knob. Broken bats don't always equal outs, though, and the ball fell just out of the reach of diving Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez out into center field. The hardest-hit ball of the inning came courtesy of Joey Wendle, who lined out to left field. With two outs, up stepped Arozarena.

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