The 25 most decisive plays in World Series history

Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
10 of 25
Next
Randy Arozarena scores the winning run on Brett Phillips’ hit in Game 4 of the 2020 World Seties. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Arozarena scores the winning run on Brett Phillips’ hit in Game 4 of the 2020 World Seties. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

16. Game 4, October 24, 2020, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas

Brett Phillips vs. Kenley Jansen. Change in Championship Probability: 30.23 percent.

Minus the no-hit bid, the circumstances of Phillips’ dramatic game-ending hit essentially mirror Lavagetto’s of nearly three-quarters of a century earlier. The team at bat trailed two games to win in the Series and also trailed by a run in the game with two out and  the tying and winning runs on base.

Rays manager Kevin Cash had inserted Brett Phillips into the game one inning earlier as a pinch runner for his first baseman, Ji Man Choi. He remained in the game as a right fielder when the previous right fielder, Hunter Renfroe, took over at first.

It’s unlikely Cash thought of Renfroe as the offensive answer in a vital situation. He was a .226 hitter during the Covid-truncated regular season with only one defensive appearance and no at bats to that point in the Series.

Dodger manager Dave Roberts called on his ace closer, Kenley Jansen, to get the final three outs. But nothing had been easy for either pitching staff in this 7-6 game, and Jansen’s ninth would be no exception. After fanning Yoshi Tsutsugo, he watched Kevin Kiermaier bloop a broke bat base hit just out of the reach of second baseman Kiki Hernandez..

The second out came when Joey Wendle ripped a line drive to left that Joc Pedersen ran under.

Now Jansen faced a choice. Randy Arozarena, a rookie but Tampa Bay’s hottest post-season hitter, was due next, with Phillips, the offensive afterthought, on deck. Jansen tried to nibble Arozarena to death, working the count full before overthrowing a breaking ball in the dirt, walking Arozarena.

That threw the issue to Phillips, who had not batted in a big league game in more than two weeks. He hadn’t hit safely in the post-season.

Down 1-2 in the count, Phillips replicated Kiermaier’s swing, a dying quail just over the infield in short right-center. Kiermaier scored easily to tie the game, and when right fielder Chris Taylor bobbled the ball Arozarena tried to score from first as well.

What happened next had to be seen to be believed. Arozarena, rounding third out of control, stumbled and fell halfway home. But as he did so, the relay throw from first baseman Max Muncy caromed away from catcher Will Smith. Now Arozarena recovered his footing, broke for home again, and scored the game-winner on a head-first slide.

Sadly for storybook finishes, the Dodgers went on to win Games 5 and 6 and take the Series 4 games to 2.