The tension of great playoff baseball was on full display in Game 5 of the World Series, with a game that featured four lead changes, six home runs, 25 hits, 15 runs, and an incredible walkoff play that included a hit from late roster addition Brett Phillips and defensive miscues from Chris Taylor and Will Smith. In the end, the Rays tied the series 2-2.
Prior to the miraculous ending, the two teams had a slugfest. Among the home runs were Corey Seager’s eighth homer of the postseason and record-breaking Randy Arozarena’s ninth home run in the postseason and second long ball in as many games. Of course, that wasn’t all the two stars contributed offensively during the game. Seager went 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored, including a go-ahead single in the eighth inning. Arozarena went 3-for-4, as well, and scored three runs, including the game winner.
Both players are perfectly capping off excellent regular season showings and quickly becoming household names. As we soon start to think about 2021 fantasy baseball draft season, Seager and Arozarena will be two of the most debated and intriguing players in drafts.
The Dodgers also got a huge offensive performance out of third baseman Justin Turner, who went 4-for-5 and became the first hitter to ever hit first inning home runs in consecutive World Series games. He’s now 17-for-61 in the postseason, and Turner has scored 15 times in 16 games.
In addition to Arozarena’s home run, the Rays got home runs from Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Lowe, and Kevin Kiermaier. Two of the home runs came against starter Julio Urias in the fourth and fifth innings, while the rest came against Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez.
After all the action in Game 5, it’s also easy to forget how well Julio Urias pitched again for the Dodgers. Making his first appearance since he threw three perfect innings to win Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves, Urias threw 4.2 innings with nine strikeouts, only getting damaged by two solo homers. It’s possible we haven’t seen the last of Urias in the series, with at least two games remaining.
As for the incredible ninth inning aftermath, there are multiple reasons for Dodgers fans to have concern. First, Taylor was only in center field because Cody Bellinger had to be shifted to the DH spot due to back tightness. Bellinger proceeded to go 0-for-4, so there’s reason to be concerned about his health. Second, Kenley Jansen struggled again. The Dodgers closer has had velocity issues again this season, but manager Dave Roberts seemed confident in him before Saturday’s game. Jansen allowed a home run in his appearance on Friday after three scoreless appearances in the NLCS, and he allowed a broken bat bloop hit, walk, and game-winning hit to take the loss on Saturday.
The teams now look toward the pivotal Game 5 tonight, as Game 1 starters Clayton Kershaw and Tyler Glasnow are set for a rematch. Kershaw can go a long way in fully quieting the critics of his playoff history with a second great World Series outing, while Glasnow is trying to rebound after allowing six earned runs in his first World Series start.
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Relief Awards Go to Hendriks, Williams
Hendriks had a brilliant 2020 season to win the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year, picking up where he left off in 2019 to post a 1.78 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and 37/3 K/BB in 25.1 innings for the A’s. He also recorded 14 saves in the shortened 60-game season. The Aussie has seen a gradual improvement over the last five years in conjunction with a velocity increase. He saw his average fastball increase by about three mph in 2015, leading to a breakout season with Toronto, and the radar readings went up another two mph last year, leading to a 1.80 ERA, 13.1 K/9, and eventual promotion to the closer role.
Brewers relievers have now won the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award in three consecutive seasons, with Williams claiming the award in 2020 after Josh Hader was the winner the last two seasons. Williams was a relative unknown coming into this season, getting his first taste of the majors over the last two months of 2019. However, the award was well-earned for the 26-year-old right-hander, as he went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 17.7 K/9 in 27 innings. He featured a nasty fastball-changeup combo and allowed only one earned run for the entire shortened season, which came in his second appearance of the year back on July 27.
The two relievers enter very different situations in 2021, as things stand now. Hendriks is assumed to be Oakland’s closer, but he’s arbitration eligible for the final time before free agency and set for a huge payday. Given the A’s history of penny pinching, it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s closing in a different uniform next season. Williams still sits as the Brewers setup man for Hader, but the long-haired lefty had long ball issues for the second consecutive season and is also set for a raise in arbitration. With the presence of Williams, Hader might find his name in trade rumors.
Quick Hits: Josh James will miss 6-8 months after surgery for a labrum tear in his left hip. The right-hander suffered the injury in August and is now questionable for the start of 2021. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported the Rangers plan to promote bullpen coach Doug Mathis to pitching coach.