With one swing of the bat Sunday night, Randy Arozarena knew history had been made.
After reaching first base in the third inning of the World Series Game 5, Arozarena called for the Rays to keep the ball he smacked into left field as he had set yet another record this postseason.
Arozarena has rewritten the record books with just about every swing he’s taken this postseason, but some hits are more significant than others. When the World Series ends, his only concern might be finding a place to display all his milestone baseballs.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ outfielder passed Derek Jeter to set the postseason record for most rookie hits. Then Arozarena topped Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltrán, and Nelson Cruz to set the single-postseason home run record, with nine.
In the third inning on Sunday, Arozarena pushed past Pablo Sandoval and took sole possession of the single-postseason hits record, with 27, on an RBI single off Clayton Kershaw.
Arozarena, the breakout star of the playoffs, has made history throughout this year’s expanded postseason. On the night he shattered the single-postseason home run record, Arozarena played his 18th game — only one more than Bonds and Cruz totaled when they hit eight home runs. He recorded his 27th hit in his 19th game, two more than Sandoval played during his 26-hit postseason six years ago. Beltrán’s feat is all the more remarkable, considering he went deep eight times in only 12 games in the 2004 postseason.
Arozarena also took ownership of another record previously held by postseason royalty. Friday’s home run gave him 52 total bases in the playoffs, and he ended Game 4 with 59, surpassing David Freese’s mark of 50 in 2011 for the highest single-postseason total. Arozarena is tied with Cruz (’10) and Albert Pujols (‘11) with 13 extra-base hits, second-most in a single postseason behind only Freese (14 in ‘11).
Among Arozarena’s other accomplishments this postseason:
• His solo shot in the fourth inning on Saturday night tied him with Evan Longoria atop Tampa Bay’s all-time postseason home run leaderboard.
• His RBI single off Kershaw in Game 5 tied him with B.J. Upton for the most career hits (27) in Rays postseason history.
• He has more three-hit games in these playoffs (five) than any player has recorded in a single postseason.