2020 World Series
|2020 World Series|
|Los Angeles Dodgers
43 - 17 in the NL
|4 - 2
|Tampa Bay Rays|
40 - 20 in the AL
- Laz Diaz, Bill Miller, Chris Guccione, Marvin Hudson, Jerry Meals, Mark Carlson, Todd Tichenor. One umpire sat out each game, then returned to work home plate the next game.
|1||Tampa Bay Rays 3 Los Angeles Dodgers 8||October 20||Tyler Glasnow (0-1) Clayton Kershaw (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|2||Tampa Bay Rays 6 Los Angeles Dodgers 4||October 21||Blake Snell (0-0) Tony Gonsolin (0-1)||8:00 pm|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers 6 Tampa Bay Rays 2||October 23||Walker Buehler (1-0) Charlie Morton (0-1)||8:00 pm|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers 7 Tampa Bay Rays 8||October 24||Julio Urias (0-0) Ryan Yarbrough (0-0)||8:00 pm|
|5||Los Angeles Dodgers 4 Tampa Bay Rays 2||October 25||Clayton Kershaw (2-0) Tyler Glasnow (0-2)||8:00 pm|
|6||Tampa Bay Rays 1 Los Angeles Dodgers 3||October 27||Blake Snell (0-0) Tony Gonsolin (0-1)||8:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: Clayton Kershaw (1-0); LP: Tyler Glasnow (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Cody Bellinger (1), Mookie Betts (1); TB - Kevin Kiermaier (1)|
- Attendance: 11,388
The Dodgers ran away with Game 1, winning 8-3, scoring all their runs in the three middle innings after there was no scoring by either team in the first three. Ace Clayton Kershaw was unaffected by his frequent postseason hiccups, pitching 6 innings and allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, and probably could have gone longer had it been necessary. His opponent, Tyler Glasnow, was able to keep up with him for a while, even though he was having trouble finding the plate with his pitches, but in the end he gave up 6 runs in 4 1/3 innings, his 6 walks during that span being his biggest issue, as he allowed just 3 hits and struck out 8. He needed 112 pitches - the most by a Rays pitcher all season - just to get those 13 outs, a clear sign that even for someone not known to be economical with his pitches, something was off. The game was basically out of reach by the end of the 5th, when the Dodgers had built a 6-1 lead, and neither team felt compelled to use any of its front-line relievers in the final innings. The Rays did use Ryan Yarbrough, who would normally have been the starter in Game 4, to complete the 5th inning when things really started to get away from Glasnow, making it likely that they would turn to a bullpen game once that game rolled along.
Yandy Diaz led off the game with a single for the Rays, and two batters later Randy Arozarena drew a walk, but Kershaw escaped with a strikeout of Hunter Renfroe and a groundout back to him by Manuel Margot. The Rays would not put another runner on base until the 5th inning. Glasnow also allowed a baserunner in the 1st, when he walked Corey Seager, but in his case, it would be a harbinger of things to come. He issued another walk in the 2nd, to Chris Taylor, and walked Seager again in the 3rd, but both times he escaped without giving up a run, even though he needed a lot of pitches to do so. In the 4th, his first walk was issued to the first batter of the inning, Max Muncy, and after one out Cody Bellinger hit a ball sky-high but deep enough to fall into the right field seats for a two-run homer. He walked Taylor again immediately after that and also threw a wild pitch, but he had limited the damage for the time being, and the Rays were still in it, especially after Kevin Kiermaier broke Kershaw's streak of 13 straight batters retired when he hit a homer of his own, to right field, to cut the lead to 2-1 in the middle of the 5th. However, that was the last time the Rays would be in the game, as Glasnow completely fell apart in the 4th.
Maybe it was all those pitches he had expended in the first four innings, or the fact he was facing the Dodgers' batters for the third time, but Glasnow no longer had any zest in the 5th. Mookie Betts led off by drawing a walk and then stole second, only for Glasnow to walk Seager for the third straight time. He struck out Justin Turner, but on the third strike, the two runners pulled off a double steal. The Rays played their infield in and Muncy hit the ball to 1B Diaz, but his throw home was too late to retire the speedy Betts, making it 3-1. Will Smith followed with a single, scoring Seager, and that was the end for Glasnow. Yarbrough replaced him but after getting Bellinger to pop up for the second out, Taylor singled for run number 5 and Kiké Hernandez, pinch-hitting for Joc Pederson, singled as well, making it 6-1. And then, just to turn the knife in the wound, Kershaw pitched another perfect inning in the top of the 6th. Kevin Cash had already written off the game at this point, as he decided not to use any of his top relievers going forward, instead sending in rookie Josh Fleming, who was greeted by a home run by Betts. This sent the Elias Sports Bureau scrambling to see if there had ever been another player with Mookie's particular combination of stolen bases and homers in past World Series. In any case, after one out, Turner and Muncy hit back-to-back doubles to run the score up to 8-1 before Fleming completed the inning.
The Rays did mount a small comeback in the 7th after Kershaw had left the game, as after Dylan Floro recorded the first out, Margot singled and Joey Wendle doubled. Victor Gonzalez came in to pitch and gave up singles to the first two men he faced, pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau (who was actually pinch-hitting for Ji-Man Choi, himself announced into the game as a pinch-hitter for SS Willy Adames) and Kiermaier. That reduced the lead to 8-3 and there were two men on base, but the next batter, Mike Zunino, scorched a line drive straight back into Gonzalez's glove, who completed a double play by throwing to second base to retire Brosseau, ending the inning. The rest of the game was just a question of going through the motions, with Fleming continuing to pitch for the Rays until John Curtiss was asked to record the final out in the bottom of the 8th, and Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly tossing a scoreless inning each for the Dodgers.
Game 2 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: Nick Anderson (1-0); LP: Tony Gonsolin (0-1); SV: Diego Castillo (1)|
|Home Runs: TB - Brandon Lowe 2 (2); LA - Chris Taylor (1), Will Smith (1), Corey Seager (1)|
- Attendance: 11,472
The Rays won Game 2 by quickly jumping ahead, building a larger lead piece by piece, and then relying on their bullpen arms to hold it when the Dodgers started clawing it back, also piece by piece. In a way, the Rays should have won this game handily, as they outhit the Dodgers, 10-5, walks were even at 4-4, and the Dodgers struck out 15 times against their 7, but Los Angeles managed to keep it close by having three of its five hits be homers. On the mound, former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell was facing rookie Tony Gonsolin, who was not expected to pitch more than a couple of innings - and he would not even achieve that. The contrast was thus very marked, and the first few innings reflected this.
After struggling against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, the Rays' batters wanted to get off to a better start this time, and they did just that when the second batter of the evening, Brandon Lowe, in a slump since the postseason started, drove a pitch deep to the opposite field for a solo homer. In the 2nd, Manuel Margot led off by drawing a walk against Gonsolin, then stole second base and advanced to third on a fly out by Joey Wendle. That was it for Gonsolin, as Dave Roberts made a mid-inning pitching change; it would be the first of a combined half dozen in this game. With Dylan Floro on the mound against Willy Adames, the Rays tried to force the issue by having Margot running on any ground ball with the infield playing in, but contrary to Mookie Betts in Game 1, the strategy did not work as Adames hit a ball directly to SS Corey Seager, who hardly had to move to throw out Margot at home. Adames then tried to move himself into scoring position by attempting to steal second, but after being initially called safe, he was called out for temporarily breaking contact with the base upon video review. The score remained just 1-0, but the initiative was clearly with the Rays. Snell did issue a couple of walks in the 2nd inning after a 1-2-3 1st inning, but after a mound visit from pitching coach Kyle Snyder, he got A.J. Pollock to pop up and struck out Kiké Hernandez to end the Dodgers' biggest threat of the first four innings.
Floro was replaced by Victor Gonzalez with two outs in the 3rd inning, but in the 4th, the Rays added to their slim lead. Randy Arozarena drew a one-out walk, but was forced out by Ji-Man Choi on what should have been an easy double play grounder. However, 2B Hernandez slightly bobbled the ball, and as a result, the Dodgers could record just one out. This proved to be very costly, when after yet another pitching change, bringing in Dustin May, Margot singled and Wendle followed with a double that split the outfielders and rolled to the wall, allowing both runners to score. The Rays then added two more runs in the 5th on a two-out single by Austin Meadows followed by Lowe's second homer of the game, this one a line drive to the opposite field that left the park in an instant, bouncing on top of the fence and into the stands. The Rays were now up 5-0 and the Dodgers were still looking for their first hit, so it looked like a rout was on, but the Dodgers would manage to make the score close. It began with two outs in the bottom of the 5th when Hernandez drew a walk and Chris Taylor followed with a homer to right-center to cut the lead to 5-2. Snell then walked Betts and gave up a single to Seager, ending his night one out shy of qualifying for the win. Kevin Cash, who had been criticized for leaving Tyler Glasnow too long in Game 1, did not make the same mistake twice, turning to one of his bullpen aces before the situation got out of hand as he summoned Nick Anderson to record the final out. He responded by striking out Justin Turner.
The Rays added another run in the 6th, this one off Joe Kelly, Dodgers pitcher #5. Choi and Margot led off with back-to-back singles, with Choi taking third on a good run. Wendle followed with a line drive to left on which Taylor made a nice running catch, but he had no chance of preventing Choi from scoring on the sacrifice fly. 1B Max Muncy then failed to catch a pick-off attempt by Kelly, and Margot ended up on second base. However, Kelly ended things by striking out Adames and Kevin Kiermaier in succession. The Dodgers then immediately got that run back as Will Smith hit a homer to left with one out, the elated fan who caught it throwing his glove into the outfield in a bizarre moment of celebration. Roberts began using his bench that inning, sending in lefty Edwin Rios to pinch-hit for Pollock, but it just resulted in a strikeout. Alex Wood replaced Kelly in the 7th and after one out gave up a very solid line drive to pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz; it reached the fence on the fly but Betts made another of the great defensive plays he was seemingly turning on a nightly basis this postseason, fielding the ball on one hop and firing a bullet to second base, forcing Diaz to stay at first base. Diaz advanced to second on a ground out by Lowe, after which Wood gave an intentional walk to Arozarena in order to face Choi. Cash countered by sending Mike Brosseau to pinch-hit, but he couldn't reproduce his heroics of the ALDS, in spite of fouling four straight pitches, as he struck out. Pete Fairbanks then took over on the mound and needed just 6 pitches to set down the Dodgers.
Los Angeles was now down to six outs after the Rays left another runner in scoring position against Wood in the top of the 8th, and they continued their methodical comeback with a lead-off homer from Seager, swinging while almost down on one knee, against Fairbanks. The score was now 6-4. Turner followed with a double that fell just in front of charging CF Kiermaier's glove as he pulled back at the last moment to avoid a collision with RF Margot. The next batter, Muncy, thus represented the tying run. Muncy had worked deep counts all postseason, drawing a huge number of walks, and he set out to do the same against Fairbanks, working the count full before he made a rare mistake, swinging at a slider slightly outside the strike zone and popping it up for the first out. Smith then followed by smoking a line drive to third base - its exit velocity was actually higher than that of his homer two innings earlier - but Wendle hung on to it for the second out. Cash now played match-up, calling on lefty Aaron Loup to face fellow lefty Cody Bellinger, and Loup struck him out looking. The top of the 9th featured another runner left in scoring position by the Rays, but the bottom of the 9th was less tense than the 8th had been. With the first two batters due up also lefthanders, Loup was left in and he struck out Rios. Roberts called on righty Austin Barnes to hit for Pederson, and he hit the ball well, but it was caught in deep left field for the second out. Cash then brought in his closer, Diego Castillo to record the final out, and he needed just three pitches to strike out Taylor on a checked swing. The Rays' deep bullpen had done its work, and in spite of the numerous runners left in scoring position, their batters had come through often enough to procure the win.
Game 3 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: Walker Buehler (1-0); LP: Charlie Morton (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Justin Turner (1), Austin Barnes (1); TB - Randy Arozarena (1)|
- Attendance: 11,447
Game 3 featured what should have been a great pitching match-up, with two men who had been dominant so far in the postseason, Walker Buehler for the Dodgers and Charlie Morton for the Rays. However, only one of them was at his best tonight, and that was Buehler, who came out firing strikes on almost every pitch and tying the Rays' hitters into knots. By the time he left, he had piled up 10 strikeouts in 6 innings, while allowing just four baserunners - three on hits and one on a walk, and he had a 6-1 lead. Dave Roberts could not have asked for a better outing. In contrast, Morton was tagged with a homer by Justin Turner with two outs in the 1st, and was never in control after that point. He allowed another hit that inning, when Max Muncy pushed a ball against the defensive shift and into no-man's land, and then, again after two outs, put himself in trouble in the 3rd when he grazed Corey Seager's foot with an errant pitch. The next batter, Turner, doubled to left, and Muncy drove them both in with a single after working a full count, as he seemed to do in just about every one of his at-bats. It was now 3-0, and the Rays finally put a man on base when Kevin Kiermaier drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the 3rd, but he was immediately erased when Mike Zunino scorched a ball to third base, which Turner fielded as if it was a routine grounder and started a double play.
By then the Dodgers were rolling, and continued to pester Morton in the 4th, this time not waiting for two men to be out to do so. Cody Bellinger led off with a single, then after one out, Joc Pederson singled as well, putting runners on the corners. Austin Barnes, starting again at catcher with Will Smith the DH, then laid down a beautiful bunt to 1B Ji-Man Choi to score Bellinger. There were now two outs, so it was time for Mookie Betts to come through, and he did so with a single to center that drove in Pederson from second base for a 5-0 lead. He then stole second base before Morton was able to get Seager to ground out to end the inning. The damage was done, though, and given the Rays' inability to score many runs of late, they looked down for the count. They would stir a couple of times, but never come back from that early barrage of runs.
After one out in the 5th, Morton walked Muncy, who was chasing the all-time postseason mark for bases on balls, and that ended his evening's work. John Curtiss replaced him and completed the inning without any scoring, then in the bottom of the inning, Manuel Margot hit a one-out double and Willy Adames also doubled with two outs to put the Rays on the scoreboard. It would be the only run Buehler allowed however, and the Dodgers' lead quickly went back to 5 runs when Barnes homered off Curtiss with two outs in the 6th. It came on a 0-2 count, and all of the Dodgers' run-scoring hits had also come with two strikes, so one could easily imagine that with a few more good pitches, the game could have gone very differently. But it wasn't the case. That homer completely deflated the Rays, and there was little action over the last few innings, with a series of relief pitchers taking the mound for each team. In the bottom of the 9th, Kenley Jansen came in even though it was not a save situation, and he recorded the first two outs very quickly, striking out Austin Meadows on three pitches and getting Brandon Lowe to fly out to right on an 0-2 count. But Randy Arozarena was a bit more patient, and on Jansen's sixth pitch, he crushed a ball into the left field stands for his record-tying eighth homer of the postseason, joining the company of Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz. It also gave him sole possession of the rookie record for hits in a postseason with 23, one ahead of Derek Jeter. That was all very nice, but the Rays still trailed, 6-2, and Choi immediately ended the game by lining out to left field.
Game 4 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: John Curtiss (1-0); LP: Kenley Jansen (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Justin Turner (2), Corey Seager (2); TB - Randy Arozarena (2), Hunter Renfroe (1), Brandon Lowe (3), Kevin Kiermaier (1)|
- Attendance: 11,441
Game 4 was a real barnburner that featured a number of lead changes, and scoring in a record 8 consecutive half-innings at one point, before ending on a spectacular game-changing play. As a result, the Series was all tied up at the end of the night. But before that, the pitching duel featured Julio Urias for the Dodgers, who had been very good so far this postseason even if usually kept on a short leash, against Ryan Yarbrough, an atypical Rays pitcher in that he hardly ever reached 90 mph on the radar gun on a staff where 98 mph was the norm. Neither pitcher was in danger of pitching a complete game, but they were not supposed to be mere openers either, although both managers were ready to dig into their reserve of bullpen arms at the first sign of trouble. The Dodgers made a change to their starting line-up as Cody Bellinger felt something in his back shortly before the game and was moved from CF to DH, moving in turn Will Smith back behind the plate in place of Austin Barnes and A.J. Pollock taking over in CF. For the Rays, the line-up was loaded with right-handed hitters against the lefty Urias, with Yandy Diaz, Mike Brosseau and Hunter Renfroe all starting.
The game started just like Game 3, as after two quick outs, Justin Turner homered, in the process setting the Dodgers' all-time record for postseason homers with 11, one more than Hall of Famer Duke Snider, who of course, had hit all of his in the World Series. That 1-0 lead became 2-0 in the 3rd when Corey Seager homered with two outs. The two long balls were the only balls hit solidly off Yarbrough in that span, and of course both had come with two outs, but after that, Yarbrough lost the plot a bit as he gave up a single to Turner and walked Max Muncy before getting Smith to ground out. Meanwhile, Urias cruised through the first three innings, helped by Randy Arozarena being caught stealing on a very close play after singling in the 1st. In the 4th, Pollock doubled to the wall after one out, ending Yarbrough's night as Ryan Thompson replaced him to record the last two outs. Incredibly, that would make Thompson one of only two Rays pitchers on the night not to allow a run in this wild game! Then, Arozarena led off the bottom of the 4th with his record-setting 9th homer of the postseason to cut the Dodgers' lead to 2-1. Brosseau followed with a single and took second on a wild pitch after one out but was stranded there.
In the 5th, Pete Fairbanks took over for Thompson for the Rays, as Kevin Cash began using some of his front-line relievers, but he allowed another run, again with two outs and two strikes, when a single by Muncy drove in Seager, although Muncy was tagged out at second when he became entangled with SS Willy Adames who held the ball. When the two ended up on the ground together, Muncy had lost contact with the bag; he protested that Adames had wrestled him down in Kent Hrbek fashion, but to no avail. That 3-1 lead was immediately cut to one run as Renfroe homered to deep left field to lead off the bottom of the 5th. Urias struck out the next two batters, but with the top of the batting order coming up for a third turn, Dave Roberts took him out, bringing in Blake Treinen to record the final out. But the scoring had just started. In the top of the 6th, Diego Castillo came to pitch and walked Smith and Pollock, then with two outs, again, allowed a double to Kiké Hernandez that made it 4-2. But the Dodgers' pitchers could not hold that lead for long, as Arozarena led off the bottom of the 6th with a single - already his third hit of the game - and Ji-Man Choi, pinch-hitting for Brosseau, drew a walk. Austin Meadows pinch-hit as well, for Manuel Margot, but he struck out. Pedro Baez now replaced Treinen but Brandon Lowe, moved down in the order given his struggles, homered to left-center to make it 5-4 for Tampa Bay. Strangely enough, it was the first lead change in these World Series.
It was now a veritable pin-ball game, as neither team's pitchers could keep the other side from scoring. In the top of the 7th, it was Aaron Loup's turn to fail to hold the Dodgers' batters down. Seager led off with a ground ball through the shift for a single and Justin Turner hit a double. Loup managed to strike out Muncy for the first out and gave way to Nick Anderson who fanned Smith for the second. The Rays elected to give an intentional walk to Bellinger, loading the bases to face Pollock. Roberts replied by sending in Joc Pederson as a pinch-hitter. Were there two outs? Yes, there were two outs, so Pederson came through with a single that scored two runs, putting the Dodgers back in the lead, 6-5, while Bellinger was throw out at third. That lead lasted one out, as it was now Kevin Kiermaier who homered off Baez, tying the game again at 6-6. Then the Dodgers scored again in the top of the 8th, to make it eight straight half-innings with at least one run. Chris Taylor hit a lead-off double, but in attempting to bunt him over, Hernandez popped out to third base. Mookie Betts then grounded out as Adames made a nice play to keep Taylor on second base, but Seager followed with a single on a ball that completely handcuffed him - with two outs, need it be said - to score Taylor with the go-ahead run. Seager became only the third batter in Dodgers history with a four-hit game in the World Series, after Jim Gilliam and Maury Wills; he was immediately joined in that exclusive club by Turner, who followed with a single off John Curtiss, but Curtiss got Muncy to ground out to strand both men. Adam Kolarek was next to take the mound for the Dodgers, with three lefties due up, and he walked lead-off hitter Choi, but got Meadows to fly out and struck out Lowe. Time for another pitching change, with Brusdar Graterol summoned to get the third out. He gave up a single to Adames, which prompted Cash to send Brett Phillips to pinch-run for Choi on second base, but Renfroe flied out to end the inning.
So, after all of this, the situation in the top of the 9th was a 7-6 lead for the Dodgers, with Curtiss, pitcher #7, still on the mound for Tampa (Blake Snell had been shown warming up at one point). He got two outs, gave up a single to Pederson, but got Taylor to fly out to finally keep L.A. from scoring. Next came Kenley Jansen to close out the win that would have given the Dodgers a three games to one lead. He struck out Yoshi Tsutsugo, pinch-hitting for C Mike Zunino. But Kiermaier followed with a single, representing the tying run. Jansen got Joey Wendle to line out, but Arozarena, who had homered off him the night before, worked a walk on 7 pitches. That brought up Phillips, who had remained in the game after running for Choi the previous inning. He hit a weak single to center, but Taylor bobbled the ball. Kiermaier scored easily, but Arozarena appeared to be a dead duck after stumbling between third and home. However, C Smith had not seen he had stopped dead in his tracks, and in attempting a swiping tag on the non-existent runner, lost control of the ball, which rolled some 15 feet away. Arozarena immediately dashed the last 20 feet and tagged home plate as the stunned Dodgers were still looking for the ball. The Rays had pulled off a completely improbable win, tying the series, as errors were charged to both Taylor and Smith on the bizarre final play.
Game 5 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: Clayton Kershaw (2-0); LP: Tyler Glasnow (0-2); SV: Blake Treinen (1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Joc Pederson (1), Max Muncy (1)|
- Attendance: 11,437
The two Game 1 starters were back on the mound for Game 5, with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers facing off against Tyler Glasnow of the Rays. Kershaw had a better outing, setting a career mark in the process, while Glasnow struggled in his first two innings before finding his groove; however, the three runs he allowed in those two innings were enough for L.A. to end up 4-2 winners and move within one win of the championship. There was one key play in the game, and it came in the 4th inning when Manuel Margot attempted to surprise Kershaw with a straight steal of home. He was unable to pull off the daredevil move, however.
The Dodgers once again started the game strongly, as they had done in their two previous wins, as Mookie Betts led off with a double and the next batter, Corey Seager, drove him in with a single. Using a lot of pitches all inning, Glasnow then struck out Justin Turner, but in facing Max Muncy, a ball got away from C Mike Zunino and Seager managed to advance on the wild pitch, although the play was extremely close, one of three decisions on the bases in this game that could really have gone either way - but all three went in the Dodgers' favor. Muncy worked a walk, his personal specialty, putting a second runner on base, but Glasnow struck out Will Smith for the second out. He got a two-strike count on Cody Bellinger, but two outs and two strikes had been the situation the Dodgers had thrived on all series, against all percentages, and this was no different as Bellinger singled, scoring Seager with a second run. Glasnow finally ended the inning by striking out Chris Taylor, but he had had to throw a huge number of pitches. The Rays tried to do something similar against Kershaw in the bottom of the inning, as Yandy Diaz hit a lead-off single and Randy Arozarena worked a full count, but the dynamic rookie then hit a ball hard to SS Seager, who started an easy double play. In the 2nd, Joc Pederson led off with a homer for the Dodgers, and the 3-0 lead the Dodgers had built quickly would hold for the remainder of the game. Glasnow did not turn things around immediately, however, as he walked Austin Barnes, but Barnes was caught stealing - with a little help from SS Willy Adames, who made sure that Barnes broke contact with the bag after beating the throw, in a play that reminded everyone of how he had "accidentally" become entangled with Muncy on second base the day before to tag him out as the two fell off the bag. Glasnow also walked Seager before finally ending the inning by getting Turner to fly out.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Margot reached base by pulling off a surprise bunt for a base hit on Kershaw's first pitch. He was stranded on second as the next three batters made outs, but it was clear that he, at least, was willing to try anything to generate some scoring. Glasnow seemed headed for another difficult inning in the 3rd when he allowed a lead-off single to Muncy, then threw a second wild pitch after one out, but he also retired three batters in order as he was finally throwing more strikes and getting better results, not coincidentally. The Rays then stirred in the bottom of that inning when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a single and after one out scored on a triple to the right field corner by Diaz. On this play, for a rare time, RF Betts showed he was human, as his desperate attempt to cut off the ball and limit Diaz to a single failed, allowing it to get past him and into the corner. Arozarena then followed with a single to left, and the Rays had pulled back to within one run, at 3-2. The Dodgers got out of the inning as Arozarena was caught stealing on Brandon Lowe's strikeout, the second time a close decision on the bases went against the Rays. Glasnow retired the Dodgers in order in the top of the 4th, and the Rays were back pecking at Kershaw in the bottom of the inning. Margot drew a lead-off walk, then stole second and when Smith's throw got away from 2B Taylor, headed for third base, making it safely (the Dodgers challenged the call, but that one really was not close, as opposed to the two previously mentioned ones, and the one that would soon follow). Kershaw then walked Hunter Renfroe to put a second runner on, but got Joey Wendle to pop up and struck out Adames. With an 0-1 count on Kiermaier, Margot now attempted his daring move, taking off as soon as Kershaw, his back to him, raised his arms above his head to start his motion. The last batter to have succeeded on a straight steal of home in a World Series had been the great Jackie Robinson in 1955, on a play that resulted in an iconic photo and on which C Yogi Berra insisted to his dying day that Robinson had been out. This play was probably destined to be argued about for just as long. 1B Muncy saw Margot take off and yelled at Kershaw to react. He instinctively took his foot off the rubber, avoiding a balk, and threw to Smith who tagged out Margot by the closest of margins - if in fact he was out, because the replays were not conclusive. Thus the third very close call to go against the Rays was the key play of the game: Margot was out, the inning was over, and the Dodgers retained their 3-2 lead.
With two outs and two strikes in the 5th, Muncy hit a home run to give the Dodgers an insurance run, and Glasnow ended his night with 5 innings pitched, 4 runs allowed on 6 hits and 3 walks, with 7 strikeouts. Given the way he was laboring in the first two innings, it was a bonus for the Rays that he had managed to pitch five full innings - the first Rays starter to do so in the series - and the Dodgers would hardly stir in the remaining four innings against four different relievers. They would put on just two baserunners, both the result of walks. The question was whether the Rays would be able to erase the two-run deficit. Kershaw was cruising after the hiccups in the 3rd and 4th innings. His strikeout of Kiermaier to lead off the 5th was the 206th of his postseason career, breaking a tie with Justin Verlander for the all-time record, and he immediately added to his mark by striking out the next batter, Zunino, as well. He then retired the first two batters in the 6th on just two pitches but, inexplicably, Dave Roberts removed him in favor of Dustin May. The largely pro-Dodger crowd was very unhappy, as this looked like they type of analytically-driven move that had repeatedly blown up in the Dodgers' faces in the Dave Roberts era. But May succeeded in striking out Margot to end the inning and then retired the Rays in order in the 7th, finally looking like the extremely talented young pitcher he had been during the regular season, and not the tentative and slow-working mess that had taken over thus far in the postseason.
In the 8th, the Rays got their chance to tie the game, but couldn't capitalize: Kiermaier again started things with a single. Kevin Cash began making moves, sending Yoshi Tsutsugo to pinch-hit for Zunino, in the hope of forcing Roberts to remove May in favor of lefty Victor Gonzalez, who was warming up, but Roberts did not budge. Tsutsugo flied out to left. Next up was Diaz, and Cash sent another pinch-hitter in Ji-Man Choi. That prompted the entrance of Gonzalez, to which Cash replied with Mike Brosseau. Brosseau forced Gonzalez to use all of his pitches and then some, and worked a walk, after Gonzalez had already advanced Kiermaier with a wild pitch. The tying run was now on base with one out, and Gonzalez had to face the righty Arozarena, but the youngster was impatient, swinging at the first pitch and popping it to center field for the second out. Next up was Brandon Lowe, and he failed too, lining to out to center on an 0-1 count, although Bellinger had to run a long way at full speed to keep the ball from dropping in. In the 9th, following Kenley Jansen's meltdown the night before, Roberts asked Blake Treinen to close, and the veteran did it in spite of allowing a lead-off single to Margot. Two runs down, Margot did not attempt anything wild on the bases - the attempt to steal home had apparently been his decision, not the manager's - and as a result he was still on first base when Adames struck out to end the game three batters later.
Game 6 @ Globe Life Field
|WP: Victor Gonzalez (1-0); LP: Nick Anderson (0-1); SV: Julio Urias (1)|
|Home Runs: TB - Randy Arozarena (3); LA - Mookie Betts (2)|
- Attendance: 11,437
The Dodgers won the 7th World Series title of their history and their first since 1988 with a 3-1 win in Game 6, thanks to a managerial decision that was destined to become an egregious example of "management by spreadsheet" pushed to its absurd limit. The game took place after a rest day (no travel was required, of course), and the pitching match-up, on paper, was all in the Rays favor, with Blake Snell going against rookie Tony Gonsolin in the role of opener, followed by a good helping of relievers. Snell had been inconsistent in the postseason, but when he had had his good stuff, he had been outstanding - as good as any pitcher in the majors. The Rays needed a good performance from him, and he gave them just that and was poised to give them a lot more, but the Rays threw it all away, all in the name of defending a new orthodoxy.
The Rays were the visiting team again, and batting first had Gonsolin in the ropes from the start. The Dodgers' righthander struck out Ji-Man Choi, batting lead-off in a re-shuffled Rays line-up, on three pitches, but the next batter, Randy Arozarena, extended his record postseason output with his 10th homer, hit to center-right on an 0-1 pitch. It also tied him with Charlie Keller of the 1939 New York Yankees for most home runs by a rookie in the World Series. There was no denying he was having a postseason for the ages. Gonsolin was shaken and began to struggle badly as he gave up a single to Austin Meadows and walked Brandon Lowe. However, he managed to escape without giving up a run getting Manuel Margot to fly out and striking out Joey Wendle, but he had needed some 28 pitches and Alex Wood was warming up in the bullpen by the time third out was recorded. The contrast with Snell was stark: the Rays' starter needed just 12 pitches to strike out the side. In a harbinger of what was coming, he threw 9 strikes and just 3 balls, and these just missed the strike zone; all four of his pitches were working and the Dodgers were completely overmatched. The Rays then went back to making Gonsolin sweat in the 2nd, as they again took a lot of pitches and fouled some more. Kevin Kiermaier hit a one-out double, and after a long at-bat that resulted in a strikeout of Mike Zunino, Choi worked a walk. That was it for Gonsolin, who had needed a whopping 48 pitches to record 5 outs, and with Arozarena due up, Dylan Floro came in and struck him out on three pitches. The Rays had a 1-0 lead, but they had already stranded four baserunners, and would hardly have any other scoring chance in this game.
Meanwhile, Snell was confirmed in the 2nd inning that his first inning had been no fluke, as he again retired all three batters in order, with only one ball being put in play, a soft tapper by Max Muncy that Snell fielded himself for an easy out. Wood came out to start the 3rd for the Dodgers, and he was outstanding, stopping the Rays dead in their tracks as he retired them in order on 10 pitches. He then repeated his performance in the 4th with three more quick outs, including a pair of strikeouts. For his part, Snell gave up his first hit, a single by Chris Taylor to lead off the third , but he then retired the next three batters, finishing with a swinging strikeout of Mookie Betts. In the 4th, he struck out the side. He was as dominant as dominant could be, repeating his 1st inning performance every time he came out. In the 5th, Dave Roberts decided to remove Wood, who had been Snell's equal in his two innings, and put in Pedro Baez, the man who had allowed two homers in Game 4, but this time he got two quick outs, and after giving up a single to Arozarena, who extended his record for hits in a single postseason to 29 with that safety, he gave way to lefty Victor Gonzalez who came in to face the lefty Meadows. Kevin Cash decided not to use a pinch-hitter as it was still early in the game, and Meadows grounded out to second base on the first pitch he saw, ending the inning. What about the bottom of the 5th, you may ask: Snell made quick work of that, with another three up, three down affair. Gonzalez then returned for the 6th and he struck out the side, as the Rays may have had a 1-0 lead, but their batters were whiffing like it was going out of style. This brought us to the fateful bottom of the 6th, but first a little digression is necessary.
Baseball managers have long obeyed a so-called "book" that told them what to do or not to do in certain situations, and going against it was sure to bring a heap of criticism, whether the move worked or not. A lot of the contents of the so-called book had been debunked and abandoned in recent years, such as the reflexive use of the sacrifice bunt or having the corner infielders guard the foul lines in the late innings of close games. But other set ways of doing things had emerged in their place, such as the idea that reigned supreme for over two decades that only a "proven closer" could pitch the 9th inning, and that such a creature, once identified, could not be used in any other situation. That idiocy had started to crumble after Buck Showalter's disastrous decision to lose the 2016 Wild Card Game in extra innings with the best relief pitcher in baseball, Zack Britton, idle in the bullpen because the vaunted "save situation" had never come up. Indeed, the last few World Series winners had all distinguished themselves by their unconventional bullpen usage, something that had started to percolate to most teams in the regular season as well. The latest shibboleth to gain currency was that a pitcher could not face a batting order a third time, lest he turn into a pumpkin. There was some analytical data to back this up - i.e. statistically, starting pitchers were in fact less effective their third time facing a line-up in one game - but it was in a way a self-fulfilling prophecy, just like the proven closer fallacy had been, since starting pitchers were given fewer and fewer opportunities to test the premise. The Rays, who had found much of their success by using analytics to their advantage, had been big fans of this strategy, routinely removing their starting pitchers in the 4th or 5th inning once their two turns had been completed. With pitchers who had a tendency to labor through the first few innings - Tyler Glasnow being a perfect example - it often made sense, as they were tiring anyway. But in a must-win game, one in which God had granted them the gift of a great pitcher being on one of his best days and with a very low pitch count to boot, bowing to the new commandment that no one shall ever see a batter a third time was completely nuts. This may be harsh, but there is no other way of putting it. The Rays decided to die on the sword of analytics, and die they did. So now we can get back to the game.
Blake Snell, looking as sharp as ever, started the 6th by getting A.J. Pollock to pop up on his first pitch. The next batter, Austin Barnes, hit a weak single to center. This was only the second Dodger hit or baserunner the entire game. Snell had thrown a measly 73 pitches. The next three batters had been a combined 0-for-6 against him, striking out all six times. Warming up in the bullpen was not the second coming of Mariano Rivera, but Nick Anderson, who may have had an excellent regular season, but who in this postseason had struggled badly and given up a run in his last six outings. And yet, Cash came out, asked Snell for the ball, and removed his best player from the game. One could immediately see not only Snell utter a curse word, but all of his teammates' faces dropping, and the Dodgers sporting huge smiles: the man they couldn't hit, and likely would not have been able to hit for a few more innings still, was gone. The move was wrong-headed, but it could have worked out. However, divine punishment is sometimes meted out in swift and unambiguous ways, and it was the case this time. Betts was the first man to face Anderson and after taking two balls, he doubled to left. Anderson then threw a wild pitch, tying the game and moving Betts to third. The speedy Mookie was exactly the man you wanted on third base in such a situation, as with the infield playing in, Seager hit a ball directly at 1B Choi, but Betts had timed his run perfectly, sliding in safely before Choi's throw with the go-ahead run. It had taken maybe two minutes for the game to be completely turned around. Aaron Loup had to come in to finish the inning.
The Dodgers were now oozing with confidence. Young Brusdar Graterol replaced Gonzalez and came out firing his customary 100 mph heat. He got two quick outs before Zunino managed to line a single to left field. That brought a flurry of moves, with Brett Phillips, hero of Game 4, pinch-running for Zunino, lefty Julio Urias summoned to face the lefty Choi, prompting Cash to send in righty Yandy Diaz to pinch-hit. And then, Urias struck out Diaz on four pitches. Urias had closed out Game 7 of the NLCS, and with Kenley Jansen, all "proven closer" that he be, having faltered badly in Game 4, the game was now his. That 2-1 lead looked huge as the Rays' batters flailed aimlessly at his pitches in the 8th, going down in order. That inning had started with some defensive moves, resulting in 3B Justin Turner leaving the game. The reason behind this was not clear at the time, but it turned out he had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier that day, and that the results of a second test had just come in, and these were positive too, so according to agreed-upon protocols, he had to come out of the game and go into self-isolation (he would break that isolation to celebrate alongside his teammates a short time later, but that's another story). In any case, Pete Fairbanks had kept the Dodgers' lead to one run in spite of giving up a lead-off double to Will Smith in the bottom of the 7th, but the lead-off batter in the bottom of the 8th was Betts, and while he had had a lower-profile postseason at the plate than some of his teammates, he had shown the world what a fantastic baseball player he was with some fabulous defensive plays and tremendous baserunning. This time, though, his bat did the talking as he took Fairbanks deep to center, his solo homer putting the final nail in the coffin for the Rays. Fairbanks needed the help of Ryan Yarbrough to complete the inning, bringing up the top of the 9th. Urias not only came back out, but no one was warming up, as Roberts at least seemed to have learned from his past mistakes and now recognized a pitcher who was killing it. Looking like a ten-year veteran, the 23-year-old carved up the three Rays hitters who came up to face him - Margot, pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau, and Willy Adames - ending the game on a fly ball to center and two strikeouts. A completely indefensible managerial decision had cost the Rays the game, but their hitters had also failed to deliver - apart from Arozarena; they were never going to win many games against an outstanding Dodgers team by scoring 3 runs in 18 innings as they had done in Games 5 and 6.
Corey Seager, who had driven in the go-ahead run in this game and had hit well all series, was named the World Series MVP, a title that could also have gone to Clayton Kershaw or to Betts. The better team, and the heavy favorite, had won, but it had been a very entertaining series, full of great storylines.
Television viewership figures for the Word Series were very poor, with an average audience of 9.79 million viewers, well below the previous low of 12.7 million in 2012. This was consistent for the very low numbers also experienced by the NBA and the NHL in their recently completed championships, and was clearly linked to the upended habits of American viewers caused by the pandemic.
Among those in attendance for the championship-clinching game was 93-year-old Tommy Lasorda, who had been the Dodgers manager during their last World Series conquest, in 1988. Sadly, he would pass away only a couple of months later.
There was no World Series parade because of the pandemic, and the value of winners and losers shares were not announced. However, by the time the 2021 season opened, teams were allowed to admit a limited number of spectators in ballparks, so it was possible for the Dodgers to hold a ring ceremony in front of fans, doing so at Dodger Stadium on April 9, 2021.
- David Adler et al.: "Debate: Any defense of pulling Snell in G6?", mlb.com, October 28, 2020. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Wait is over! Dodgers win 1st WS since '88", mlb.com, October 28, 2020. 
- Michael Clair: "Wildest moments at Dodgers ring ceremony: Griffey, Ichiro, and gold-trimmed uniforms", mlb.com, April 9, 2021. 
- Steve Gardner: "Tampa Bay Rays one of six MLB franchises who've never won a World Series", October 18, 2020. 
- Steve Gardner: "How the Tampa Bay Rays constructed a pennant-winner on a limited budget", USA Today, October 19, 2020. 
- Richard Justice: "7 bold predictions for the 2020 World Series", mlb.com, October 19, 2020. 
- Gabe Lacques: "'Gut-wrenching': Rays' World Series run over after Kevin Cash yanks Blake Snell early", USA Today, October 27, 2020. 
- Sarah Langs and Andrew Simon: "20 facts about LA's title, 2020 postseason", mlb.com, October 28, 2020. 
- Tim Neverett: COVID Curveball: An Inside View of the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers World Championship Season, Permuted Press, Brentwood, TN, 2021. ISBN 978-1637581438
- Bob Nightengale: "'This is our year': Dodgers defeat Rays in Game 6 to win first World Series title since 1988", USA Today, October 27, 2020. 
- Mike Petriello: "Rays-Dodgers: World Series position analysis", mlb.com, October 19, 2020. 
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series