Dodgers blow lead after lead, lose roller-coaster ride in Game 4 – Press Enterprise

ARLINGTON, Texas — Seven Flags Over Texas is located just down the road from Globe Life Field. It sits mostly empty these days, its rides still with the park all but shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

It could have been going full bore. The Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays still would have provided the best thrill ride in town Saturday night. And like the most extreme rides, some enjoyed it more than others.

“Man, baseball is fun. Wow,” a breathless Brett Phillips said in a post-game interview just moments after his flare single set off a chain reaction of events – none of them good for the Dodgers – that led to the Rays walking off with an 8-7 victory in Game 4 that evened the best-of-seven World Series at two games apiece.

The Dodgers were one strike away from taking a 3-1 lead in the series with Clayton Kershaw scheduled to start Game 5. The baseball fates that have toyed with the Dodgers for 32 years – and future Hall of Famer Kershaw for the past eight – seemed to finally be aligning in their favor.

And then Lucy yanked the football away again.

“Wild game. Back and forth. Up and down,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said, his face flushed red during his post-game interview – a lingering reminder of the shell-shocked looks the Dodgers carried off the field.

“But like we’ve said all along, we know it’s not going to be easy. We know how difficult this is. … Couple bobbles. Will (Smith) trying to turn around and put a quick tag on him, doesn’t squeeze the ball and it trickles away. That was the ballgame.”

Watching the deciding play was like watching a multi-car crash in slow motion. So many mistakes by so many people.

Kenley Jansen came in to protect a one-run lead in the ninth, but he gave up a broken-bat single to Kevin Kiermaier and walked Randy Arozarena to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with two outs.Jansen got ahead 1-and-2, but Phillips dropped a flare into center field for his first hit since Sept. 25.

Chris Taylor started the game in left field and moved to center field mid-game with Cody Bellinger at DH due to back tightness. Taylor charged the ball and scooped it as he was looking up to see if Arozarena would go to third base.

He never secured the ball and his scoop just served to fling it away to his left, allowing Arozarena time to round third base and head home.

But Arozarena stumbled and fell and was about to turn back to third when he saw Max Muncy’s relay throw home to Smith. Muncy’s throw was to Smith’s right and he reached for it then spun around looking to put a tag on Arozarena. The ball came loose in the process.

Jansen was standing on the infield grass between third and home, not backing up … anything. So Arozarena got up, finished his trip and practically belly-flopped on home plate to score the winning run while Smith scrambled to retrieve the ball.

“Honestly it’s hard to believe right now that just happened,” Phillips said. “Once I saw Randy slip I thought, ‘Oh, shoot at least we tied it up.’

“Then I don’t know what happened but he scored and the next thing I know I’m airplane-ing around and I get dogpiled.”

The Rays – the home team 1,100 miles from their actual home – celebrated the first walk-off win in a World Series game since the Dodgers won Game 3 in 2018 on an 18th-inning home run by Muncy. It was the first walk-off win by a team that entered the final inning trailing since Joe Carter’s home run decided the 1993 Series.

The Dodgers’ conclusive bungling was the final flourish on a game that saw the two teams combine to score 12 runs in the fifth through ninth innings, scoring in eight consecutive half innings (the longest such streak in World Series history) from the bottom of the fourth through the top of the eighth and swapping the lead like a Netflix password.

Every pitching choice Dave Roberts made in Game 4 turned out as wrong as social media always thinks they do.

He pulled starter Julio Urias in the fifth inning in favor of Blake Treinen. Treinen got out of the inning but created trouble in the sixth and Roberts brought in Pedro Baez to face Brandon Lowe.

It was a decision based in some logic – left-handed hitters were 3 for 31 against Baez this season with no extra-base hits.

The next two left-handed hitters he faced hit home runs. Lowe upended a Dodger lead with a three-run home run. But Joc Pederson’s two-out single in the top of the seventh put the Dodgers back on top – and Roberts sent Baez back out for the bottom of the seventh. Two batters in, he gave up a game-tying home run to another left-handed hitter, Kevin Kiermaier.

“Lowe, I just loved the matchup,” Roberts said. “I just felt Petey could pick Blake up right there. He had him 1-and-2, didn’t execute a pitch and Lowe put a really good swing on it.