Buehler Dominates Rays as Dodgers Retake Series Lead

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Dodgers 6 , Rays 2

The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night to move to within two games of the World Series Title. They grabbed an early lead and never looked back. Justin Turner and Austin Barnes both hit solo homers while Walker Buehler dazzled on the mound. The win gives the Dodgers a 2-1 series lead. Both of their wins have been strong statements, outmatching the Rays in nearly every facet of the game.

Quick Start

In all three games thus far in the series, the team who scores first has won the game. So getting off to a fast start has been a key stat. All three games have also started the scoring with a home run. In Game Three, Justin Turner  jump-started the Boys in Blue when he turned on a fastball from Charlie Morton in the first. He was able to stay on top of it and drive the ball over the left field wall.

The Dodgers added on with with two runs apiece in the third and fourth. The 5-0 lead just took the air right out of the Rays. Score first and you’re in good shape to earn the victory.

Buehler on the Bump

The Dodgers needed a big start from their young right-hander and he did not disappoint. Buehler’s strikeout stuff, plus the Rays inability to make consistent contact, equaled a tough night for the Tampa bats. He limited them to only three hits while striking out 10 and seemed to get even stronger as he struck out the side in his sixth and final inning.

His game plan was simple, here is my fastball and make me throw my secondary pitches. Buehler’s curve ball is one of the best in the game, but he rarely needed to bring it out. His fastball was popping and the Rays could not catch up.  Of the 59 fastballs he threw, just five were put in play.  In the day of baseball where everyone is a fastball hitter, that is simply amazing.

With his victory, it would be hard to imagine him not getting the ball in a potential game seven if the series was to go the distance. The Rays would surely love to get that opportunity and hope for much better success.

Key At-Bat

The two home runs for the Dodgers were nice, but the key hit came in the third inning. After two quick outs, Max Muncy came to the plate with two on and two out. Morton had been pitching well, but had first base open with the right-handed hitting Will Smith on deck. Morton had the opportunity to pitch around Muncy and leave it up to the youngster Smith to beat him. Smith struck out on three straight pitches in the first.

With a 3-2 count, Morton spun a hanging breaking ball to Muncy who squared it up for a two-rbi single to center. With the way Buehler was already looking, a 3-0 lead may as well been 7-0 to the Rays.

The Dodger lineup makes it extremely tough to pitch around anyone, but it’s hard to imagine Morton or Kevin Cash wanting that pitch back in the early part of the game.

Record Tied

Randy Arozarena has been one of the best stories of the 2020 playoffs and he added to the story on Friday night. With the Rays down to their last strike, he tied the MLB playoff record for home runs in a single postseason with eight. There are more playoff games this year than in years past, but he did not hit one in the wild card series. He already owns the record for rookie hits (23 and counting) as well as, of course, home runs. He will have at least two more games for the chance to break the record.

Up Next

Game Four is scheduled for the prime time of 8:08 Eastern.

The Rays will start with Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough figures to make it once, maybe twice through the lineup and turn it over to a well rested Rays bullpen.

Julio Urias (4-0) will get the ball for the Dodgers. The 24-year-old southpaw will look to get the Dodgers to within one game of hoisting the trophy.

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