I have watched the play that ended World Series Game 4 over and over and over and I still almost can’t believe it happened.
The batter, Brett Phillips, had not batted in 17 days. He was only in the game as a defensive replacement. He was down 1-2 in the count to Kenley Jansen, who had generally been very good this postseason. Phillips is the definition of the last guy on the roster. In Cubs terms, it would have been as if Ian Miller or Albert Almora Jr. had gotten that hit.
Four things had to happen on that play in order for the Rays to win:
- Chris Taylor flubbing the transfer of the ball
- Max Muncy making a suboptimal relay throw
- Will Smith missing the throw and trying to make a swipe tag at... no one
- Kenley Jansen not backing up the plate, although on that:
He’s probably right, because even if Jansen backs up the plate, by the time the ball gets past Smith, Randy Arozarena has righted himself and scored.
Among other things from this game:
Game 4 was the 14th game in World Series history in which there were 3 or more lead changes.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 25, 2020
This is the 1st of those games in which there were 3+ lead changes in the 6th inning or later.
H/T @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/Jyo2M8BWdY
Before tonight, when was the last time a #WorldSeries game ended on a walk-off hit with a team trailing and down to its last out? The @Dodgers were on the other end of that one in 1988, thanks to Kirk Gibson: https://t.co/fEQJPWWcqg #SABR pic.twitter.com/072Hbwopox— SABR (@sabr) October 25, 2020
In one crazy play, this went from a possibly-boring World Series won by the Dodgers — they were one strike from going up three games to one — to one of the most memorable games and Series you’ll ever see, and a World Series that might go either way, now down to a best-of-three.
This is why baseball is the greatest game. I have said this many times before, but it’s never been truer than in regards to Game 4: If you watch this game long enough, sooner or later you will see something you’ve never seen before, and we certainly did Saturday night.
Brett Phillips, World Series hero. Who had that on their bingo card before this series began? Here’s Phillips after the game [VIDEO].
Incidentally, Phillips, who was originally drafted by the Astros in the sixth round in 2012, is peripherally part of the Houston scandal, as he was traded along with Josh Hader, Adrian Houser and Domingo Santana to the Brewers for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez in 2015. (Great trade for Milwaukee, incidentally.) If Fiers isn’t sent to the Astros in that deal, do we ever find out about the cheating scandal? Fiers was the whistle-blower.
Then Phillips was traded to the Royals in 2018 for Mike Moustakas, and Kansas City swapped him to the Rays for a minor leaguer four days before this year’s trade deadline. He went 3-for-20 for Tampa Bay in the regular season. He’s a lifetime .202/.284/.347 (68-for-331) hitter. Oh, yes, and he’s a Tampa-area native who grew up and played high school ball in Seminole, Florida.
And now he’ll be remembered forever in baseball lore.
I didn’t have a particular rooting interest in this series, though I had favored the Rays because I love rooting for the underdog. Now that underdog might just win it all.
Baseball. There’s no sport quite like it.