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World Series: Rays' red-hot Arozarena ties Jeter record, eyes Bonds mark

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena has been one of Major League Baseball's best hitters this postseason and can tie several records set by all-time great players with continued success in the World Series. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena has been one of Major League Baseball's best hitters this postseason and can tie several records set by all-time great players with continued success in the World Series. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena got his 22nd hit of the playoffs in Game 2 of the World Series to tie Derek Jeter's rookie record. He also is one home run away from tying a Barry Bonds playoff mark.

Arozarena went 1 for 3 in the 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. He is hitting .361 with seven home runs and 10 RBIs in 61 games this postseason.

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"I try not to pay attention to the statistics," Arozarena told reporters before Game 1 of the World Series. "With the internet and everybody bringing it up, you are aware of it.

"I don't pay attention to statistics. I [pay attention to] what I can control when playing."

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Jeter hit .361 with 22 hits, one home run and three RBIs to help the New York Yankees win the World Series during the 1996 postseason.

Arozarena -- the 2020 ALCS MVP -- hit a single in the ninth inning off Dodgers relief pitcher Jake McGee on Wednesday for his first hit of the World Series. He now has the second-most total bases in a single postseason (48), which is two off the record owned by David Freese from 2011.

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Bonds (2002), Carlos Beltran (2004) and Nelson Cruz (2011) own the record for most home runs in a single postseason, with eight. Arozarena will join that group if he takes a Dodgers pitcher deep in one of his next few games. He also could set the record outright with two more home runs.

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He needs four hits to tie Pablo Sandoval's record for hits in a single postseason (26).

Arozarena, 25, was born in Havana, Cuba. He grew up playing soccer before he started playing baseball at 8 years old. He said his energy this postseason has been inspired by Juventus soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He is one of the best soccer players in the world and he works so hard to be the best," Arozarena said. "If you want to be the best, you have to practice like the best."

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The 5-foot-11 outfielder said he escaped Cuba in 2015 with an eight-hour boat trip to the United States. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 14, 2019, with the St. Louis Cardinals before he was traded to the Rays in January. He hit .281 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs in 23 games during the 2020 regular season.

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The Dodgers have taken a cautious approach when Arozarena steps into the batter's box. Dodgers pitchers walked the Rays outfielder twice on Wednesday and once in Game 1.

"I don't blame anybody for being very careful with him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday. "They are throwing him a heavy dose of breaking balls. He is going to get one here eventually. He will get timed up and see it.

"We saw him make adjustments against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. He is going to do it again."

The Rays face the Dodgers in Game 3 at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Friday in Arlington.

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