With their American League Division Series with the Red Sox down to a best of three heading into Sunday’s Game 3 at Fenway Park, the Rays will likely need more of Randy Arozarena’s October magic to advance to the ALCS.
The boot scootin’ outfielder wasted no time this playoff year in adding to a postseason resume that seems to grow more impressive with each game.
Arozarena’s homer and steal of home helped lead the Rays to a 5-0 win in Game 1. The theft of home plate, which according to MLB Stats was the first straight steal of home since Jackie Robinson in 1955, was a moment that underscored the energy Arozarena brings to his team, especially this time of year.
It also impressed his manager.
“The steal of home was one of the cooler things I have seen on a baseball field,” said Kevin Cash. “He is a special player and he certainly gets up for the moment. He has proven that day in and day out, and certainly when it’s the postseason.”
The home run was Arozarena’s 11th in what was his 19th postseason game, second to Babe Ruth’s 12 in a 19-game span of playoff games.
“This game is all about history,” said Cash. “Anytime you are putting your name in those categories like Randy has done….I have never seen anything like it in 2020 and, hopefully, I will say that here at the end of 2021.”
Arozarena triggered a five-run first inning to give the Rays 5-2 lead in what would be a 14-6 loss in Game 2. The 26-year-old Cuban singled and scored, the 23rd time he has crossed the plate in 22 playoff games with the Rays. (Arozarena played five playoff games with St. Louis in 2019 and went 0-for-4 with a stolen base.)
His postseason heroics have the fans at Tropicana Field chanting his name. That is especially so with the contingent in the left field stands, who give Arozarena the rock star treatment when he trots out to his position after having done something noteworthy the previous half inning.
“I go out there because I am trying to give them a show and I know they want to see something,” he said, after Game 1. “That’s what the game is for. They want to win. We want to win. So, I give credit to them for showing up and supporting us and myself.”
Arozarena’s teammates certainly appreciate the energy and enthusiasm he brings to each and every game, especially when the stakes are at their highest.
“I think the calendar switched to October, and he just kind of woke up,” said Brandon Lowe, prior to Game 2. “He is like, it’s my time to go and my time to shine again. I’m excited to see what he can do for the rest of the postseason for us.”
While mindful of what he accomplished last fall, when his 10 homers set an all-time postseason mark, Arozarena understands that is in the past and his team also fell shy of its ultimate goal.
“Like I have said, 2020 was last year and 2021 is this year,” he noted. “We want to go out there and win and get that (World Series) ring.”
About the boots?
Arozarena was seen wearing black cowboy boots prior to Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees in the San Diego bubble last year. The boots serve as a kind of good luck charm dating to when he played in the Mexican Winter League in 2017.
“I put the boots on before the game today, just like I did before the first game of the (of the ALDS) last year,” he said following Game 1. “In that playoff game against the Yankees I hit a home run. I hit a home run (in Game 1 vs. Boston), so that just shows that the magic is working from the boots.”
The Rays are hopeful for more of Arozarena’s October magic.