Dodgers Rally, Beat Rays for First World Series Title since 1988

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Dodgers 3, Rays 1
2020 World Series Game Six
Dodgers Win Series, 4-2

After a managerial move that will be questioned for years to come, the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, and win the 2020 World Series. This win Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas gave them their first World Series championship since 1988 and seventh overall. For the first five-plus innings, Game Seven looked like a distinct possibility, since Rays starter Blake Snell was working on a masterpiece. However, baseball lasts nine innings, not five.

Snell Dominant Early after Arozarena Home Run

The Rays jumped on Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin early, although they somehow scored only one run in the process. With one out, left fielder Randy Arozarena homered to right. It was his record 10th of the postseason and gave the Rays an early confidence boost. Designated hitter Austin Meadows and second baseman Brandon Lowe followed with a single and walk, respectively. This brought up right fielder Manuel Margot with a runner in scoring position, but he flied to right. When third baseman Joey Wendle struck out, the promising start by the Rays went to waste, and Gonsolin escaped with only one run allowed.

Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier doubled with one out in the second, and after catcher Mike Zunino struck out, first baseman Ji-Man Choi walked. That was the end of the line for Gonsolin. Dylan Floro came into the game and fanned Arozarena, ending the inning.

This began a lights-out stretch by Dodgers relievers. From the third through sixth innings, only one of the 13 Rays hitters reached base. That came on a harmless two-out single by Arozarena in the top of the fifth.

Whenever a team’s bats go silent like this, their pitcher needs to be all but unhittable. Snell was, as he allowed only one baserunner in the first five innings. That came in the form of a leadoff single by second baseman Chris Taylor in the third. In the process of keeping the Dodgers off the basepaths, he had struck out nine – the first pitcher to strike out nine in the first five innings of a World Series game since Hall of Famer and Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax in 1965.

The Hook Heard ‘Round the World

Snell returned to the mound in the sixth, looking as locked in as anyone. Dodgers left fielder AJ Pollock swung at the first pitch and popped to second. This brought up catcher Austin Barnes. On 1-1, he knocked a single into center on Snell’s 73rd pitch of the game. The next three hitters – the top three in the batting order – had all struck out both times they had faced him. With the way Snell was dealing, chances were good that the Barnes single was going to be harmless.

All that changed when Rays manager Kevin Cash emerged from the dugout. He was pulling Snell to bring in Nick Anderson, and that seemed to light a fire under the Dodgers. Betts welcomed him to the game with a hard-hit double to left, advancing Barnes to third as Seager stepped to the plate. A wild pitch from Anderson brought Barnes across with the tying run and moved Betts to third. This was key when Seager hit a grounder to first. Choi came home with the ball, but the speedy Betts beat the tag, and the Dodgers had taken a 2-1 lead. When Turner followed with a booming fly to the track in left, it was clear that Anderson didn’t have it. Out he came, with Aaron Loup taking the mound to face first baseman Max Muncy, who grounded to short for the third out.

Dodgers Shut Rays Down

This seemed to take the air out of the Rays even further. Brusdar Graterol took the mound in the bottom of the seventh and quickly got two outs. Catcher Mike Zunino then stroked a two-out single, bringing Julio Urías in from the ‘pen. He locked up pinch-hitter Yandy Diaz, retiring the side.

The Dodgers had two reach base in the bottom of the seventh, but a two-out popup to second left them stranded. After Urias pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, a leadoff home run by Betts in the bottom of the inning gave them a 3-1 lead.

Urias returned to the mound for the ninth. Margot led off with a fly to right, bringing up Mike Brosseau to pinch-hit for Wendle. He watched strike three whizz by him, a fastball over the inside corner. Up came shortstop Willy Adames to try and keep the Rays season alive. On 0-2, he also watched a fastball clip the inside corner. Plate umpire Jerry Meals rang Adames up. Strike three. Delirium. For the first time since 1988, the Dodgers were the champions.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was the MVP after batting .400 (8-for-20) with two home runs, five RBI, six walks, and seven runs scored.

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