A strong outing from SP Clayton Kershaw and a stellar offensive performance gave the Dodgers a 1-0 World Series lead over the Rays with an 8-3 win.
For just the fourth time in the Wild Card era, the teams with the two best regular season records in each league played against each other in the World Series. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rays and Dodgers will play the entirety of the World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, to mitigate the risk of any potential outbreaks.
Game 1 began with both starting pitchers outdueling the opposing batters. After allowing two of the first three batters to reach base, Kershaw retired the following eleven batters to hold the Rays to just one hit over the first four innings. SP Tyler Glasnow kept the Dodgers out of scoring position for the first three innings, despite several lengthy at-bats.
A leadoff walk in the bottom of the fourth to 1B Max Muncy proved costly for Glasnow as he surrendered a two-run home run to CF Cody Bellinger to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Kershaw looked as if he was going to post his fourth consecutive 1-2-3 inning until CF Kevin Kiermaier smoked a home run over the right field wall to cut the Rays deficit in half.
Glasnow’s command continued to decline as he issued consecutive walks to RF Mookie Betts and SS Corey Seager to begin the bottom of the fifth. A double steal by Betts and Seager with one out ignited a big inning for the Dodgers as shortly after, Betts scored on a fielder’s choice to first from Muncy. DH Will Smith followed with an RBI single scoring Seager and forcing Rays Manager Kevin Cash to replace Glasnow with LHP Ryan Yarbrough. UTIL Chris Taylor and 2B Kiké Hernandez registered back-to-back RBI singles off Yarbrough to push the Dodgers lead to 6-1.
The Dodgers hot bats came out swinging early in the sixth when Betts clobbered his first home run of the postseason against LHP Josh Fleming’s first pitch of the game. Five pitches later, the Dodgers scored again with an RBI double from Muncy to extend their lead to 8-1.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts decided to take out Kershaw in the top of the seventh, despite only throwing 78 pitches and allowing just three baserunners. Rays hitters took full advantage of Kershaw’s absence as they strung together four consecutive hits with one out and trimmed their deficit to 8-3. The Rays rally came to a halt after LHP Victor González snared a 105-MPH line drive off the bat of C Mike Zunino and doubled off 3B Mike Brosseau at second base.
Both teams were held scoreless over the final two innings and the Dodgers took Game 1 of the World Series with an 8-3 victory.
Betts: 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 SB
Muncy: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Kershaw (W): 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Kiermaier: 2-3, HR, 2 RBI
Looking Ahead To Game 2
LHP Blake Snell will take the mound for the Rays while RHP Tony Gonsolin will get the start for the Dodgers. Snell has posted a 3.20 ERA in four postseason starts this year but has yet to pitche more than 5.2 innings in any of those starts. Gonsolin has struggled this postseason to a tune of 7 ER over the course of 6.1 innings in two postseason outings.
If the Rays want to even the series, they need to score several early runs and hope that Snell can produce his longest start of the postseason. Turning a late lead over to their dominant bullpen should put them in prime position to shut down the explosive Dodgers offense.