Kevin Sethre, staff writer
The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in the sixth game of the World Series, clinching their first championship since 1988. It was the end of an entertaining postseason and an exciting series with lots of memorable moments despite COVID-19.
The Dodgers set the tone early, winning the first game of the series after Clayton Kershaw held the Rays to only one run and two hits over six innings. After three scoreless innings to start the game, a two-run homer by Cody Bellinger in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Dodgers a lead that they never gave up, adding four more runs in the fifth inning and another two in the sixth.
The Rays tied the series in the second game with a two home run game by Brandon Lowe and a nine-strikeout performance by Blake Snell. After Snell left, the Rays, who had the third best bullpen ERA during the regular season, used relief pitchers Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks, Aaron Loup and Diego Castillo to hold the lead.
The Dodgers hit Charlie Morton early and often for five runs in the first four innings and won 6-2 to take the lead back in the third game. Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler pitched six great innings, giving up only one run and three hits while striking ten.
The Rays tied the series again in an exciting, back-and-forth game four. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead thanks to solo home runs by Justin Turner in the first inning and Corey Seager in the third. The Rays scored first on a solo home run by Randy Arozarena in the bottom of the fourth, starting a streak of eight straight half innings where at least one run was scored and setting a World Series record. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, two strikes, two baserunners, and the Rays trailing by one run, Brett Phillips stepped up for his first at-bat of the series. He hit it into centerfield, driving in Kevin Kiermaier to tie it. As Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor struggled to gather and throw, Arozarena rounded third, tripped on his way home, and got back up with the relay throw home looking like it would easily beat him. Dodgers catcher Will Smith, unaware that Arozarena had tripped, wheeled around to apply the tag quickly and lost the ball. Arozarena scored, the Rays won the game and tied the series and Phillips and his teammates sprinted around the outfield celebrating. It can be considered one of the most exciting plays in the history of the World Series.
The Dodgers won game five 4-2 by hitting off of Tyler Glasnow well, scoring three runs in the first two innings. The Rays fought back with two runs in the bottom of the third, but Dustin May, Victor Gonzalez, and Blake Treinen turned in strong efforts out of the bullpen, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings and bringing the Dodgers to the brink of their first title in over thirty seasons.
The Dodgers won the sixth and final game 3-1 after a late rally. Arozarena gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his record-breaking tenth home run of the postseason, but the Tampa Bay’s bats fell quiet for the rest of the night. Snell had another great outing, throwing five scoreless, one-hit innings. He came out for the sixth, but was pulled by Kevin Cash after allowing his second hit of the night in a move that received widespread criticism. He was replaced by Nick Anderson, who had been a shutdown reliever for the Rays throughout the regular season but had struggled during the playoffs. The criticism got louder when he immediately surrendered a double to Mookie Betts, throwing a wild pitch that allowed Austin Barnes to score, then saw Seager drive Betts in with a grounder that was enough to score Betts and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. A solo home run by Betts in the bottom of the eighth a one-two-three ninth by Julio Urias won the series for the Dodgers.
After the game, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who was pulled from the game after his COVID-19 test came back positive, came back onto the field to celebrate with his teammates while not social distancing or wearing a mask. In an official statement released the following day, Major League Baseball said that he “emphatically refused to comply” with the isolation protocols in place for when a player tests positive for the virus. The situation understandably sparked a lot of conversation, with some defending Turner by saying that he just wanted to celebrate with his teammates and others criticizing him as being selfish for putting all of their health at risk by doing so.
The Dodgers go into the offseason celebrating with a trophy that they’ve waited for a long time to get back and hoping to re-sign some of their free agents to make another deep postseason run while the Rays continue to wonder what could have been.