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Rays' Randy Arozarena passes Derek Jeter hit record, ties home run mark

Notebook | Outfielder’s 23 hits are the most of any rookie in a postseason, and his 8 homers tie the all-time record
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena connects for a solo home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the World Series Friday in Arlington, Texas.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena connects for a solo home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the World Series Friday in Arlington, Texas. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 23, 2020
Updated Oct. 24, 2020

ARLINGTON, Texas —Rays rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena passed a legend on one record list and joined some impressive company atop another Friday.

Arozarena’s ninth-inning home run was his eighth of the playoffs, tying the all-time record shared by Nelson Cruz (Texas, 2011), Carlos Beltrán (Houston, 2004) and Barry Bonds (San Francisco, 2002) for a single postseason.

Arozarena said it meant more to him, for now anyway, to surpass Derek Jeter for the most hits by a rookie, with his 23rd. Jeter, the longtime Yankees star, had 22 in 1996.

“It’s good to be up in that group with those big hitters like Barry Bonds, but now I stand alone with the hits,” Arozarena said, via team translator Manny Navarro. “It’s good to pass the hit record with a guy that held it for so long, Derek Jeter. … What really means more is the win, to hopefully get some victories for the team.”

Arozarena also broke the record for total bases in a postseason with 52; David Freese had 50 for St. Louis in 2011 and ended up being named World Series MVP.

Arozarena’s teammates and bosses continue to marvel at what he’s doing.

“Really, there’s still no explanation for it," manager Kevin Cash said. ”I’ve heard some of the names that he is tied with or passing, and that’s pretty, pretty special territory. You look at a guy like Derek Jeter and his career, and then you add the postseason, and it’s remarkable what he’s done.

“And Randy hasn’t had the opportunities, but he certainly has made the most of it in his first chance, and we’re not having the success we’ve had to date without his production. And we were all happy for him to get the big home run there.”

Arozarena is 23-for-65 for the postseason, 2-for-10 in the World Series.

Kiermaier disappointed, upset with Gold Glove sub

Kevin Kiermaier was surprised when he first saw he was not among the three finalists for the Gold Glove among American League centerfielders. Then, the three-time winner was a few other things.

“I was disappointed,” Kiermaier said before Friday’s game. "I was upset. I feel like what I did out there defensively was under-appreciated this year. I wasn’t flawless, by any means, but I thought I was darn good out there. And not to even be considered top three, I don’t know.

“I was thinking about these questions long before I got into this interview room and want to tread lightly with my words and not say anything I’m going to regret, but I think you guys know how I feel about it. You know what? At the end of the day, I’ve got a lot better things going on right now with the guys in that clubhouse playing in the World Series. So I’m okay with it. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about it. I’ll leave it at that.”

The finalists were Oakland’s Ramon Laureano, Minnesota’s Byron Buxton and Chicago’s Luis Robert, as the selection process was changed this year.

Rather than using votes of managers and coaches for 75 percent of the decision and a statistical formula for 25, as in previous years, the Rawlings Co. opted to go with just the numbers. The choices were based on the Society for American Baseball Research Defensive Index, which aggregates data from metrics compiled by Statcast, Sports Information Solutions, STATS, LLC and traditional statistics, some public, some proprietary.

“If it was solely based on the computers and the numbers, I don’t know what numbers that computer was looking at but, I believe they got it wrong,” Kiermaier said. "That’s my opinion. I think there’s a lot of other people out there who would agree with me. It just wasn’t my year to win it, but not being a nominee for top three, I think speaks for itself.

“It’s okay. It’s going to motivate me. It’ll make me work harder in the offseason. But it’s an award that means a lot to me, and I’ve been fortunate to win it. But this year wasn’t my year.”

Cash said there was no question Kiermaier should have been named: “I get to see KK play every night. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best defensive player on whatever field he’s on.”

Kiermaier was further disappointed none of his Rays mates were nominated, with shortstop Willy Adames, first baseman Ji-Man Choi and catcher Mike Zunino among the candidates. He also suggested there should be an additional award category for multi-positional players such as Joey Wendle.

Lining up

The Rays used the same lineup Friday as they did Wednesday. That’s noteworthy, because it was the first time Cash did so in consecutive games this entire season — regular and postseason. Given that he used 60 different lineups (when you include the positional assignments) in 60 regular-season games, that’s saying something. Maybe Cash is softening up: The Wednesday-Friday lineup was also one he used in Games 2 of the ALCS and ALDS: Austin Meadows, DH; Brandon Lowe, 2b; Randy Arozarena, lf; Ji-Man Choi, 1b: Manuel Margot, rf; Joey Wendle, 3b; Willy Adames, ss; Kevin Kiermaier, cf: Mike Zunino, c. Cash also repeated a different lineup in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS.

Under the roof

The game was played with Globe Life Field’s retractable roof closed for the first time this postseason, as temperatures dipped into the 40s and rain was possible. Data from the Rangers' first season in the new stadium indicated the ball would fly less — about 10-15 feet on average, Cash said — and scoring would be down. In 24 regular-season games with the roof closed, teams hit .218 with a 665 OPS, averaging 8.21 runs, 1.88 homers and 4.88 extra-base hits per game. In six regular-season games with the roof open, the numbers were .282, .836, 11.83, 3.5 and 6.33. In the first 12 postseason games with it open, .243, .767, 10.42, 3.0 and 6.58.

Number of the day

65.9

Percent of teams leading a World Series 2-1 that go on to win, 60 of 91

Miscellany

Lefty Ryan Yarbrough will start in Game 4; the Rays had considered using an opener. … Reliever Shane McClanahan became the first pitcher and second player to appear in a World Series before a regular season game, joining infielder Adalberto Mondesí, who did so for the Royals in 2015. … Injured Rays pitchers Jalen Beeks, Andrew Kittredge and Colin Poche were at the game, sitting in the stands. … The socially distanced attendance was 11,447. … B.J. Upton, centerfielder on the Rays' 2008 Series team, threw the ceremonial first pitch, via video recorded at Tampa’s Carrollwood Day School. … The anthem was the same video of saxophonist BK Jackson the Rays have used throughout the postseason, and got a huge roar from the crowd. … “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was played on video by the multi-talented Scheiber family of St. Petersburg.