WORLD SERIES GAME 1: Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts carry the Dodgers to an 8-3 win

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Logo by Sarah Feuer

STEAL: Mookie Betts, who homered and went 2-4, slides into third base for his second stolen bag in the 5th inning of Game 1.

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t lose any momentum from the ending of the last series into the World Series, dominating the entire Game 1 as the Covid-shortened, cardboard-cutout 2020 baseball season begins its final stretch. 

Entering their second straight series before live fans at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, the players faced the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time this year. Each team started one of its aces and it looked like a good matchup at the start, but it became lopsided very quickly.

Clayton Kershaw, L.A.’s three-time Cy Young Award recipient, looked like his usual self as he shut down the entire Rays lineup throughout the six innings that he played. 

His most dominant pitch throughout the night had to be his slider. The slider is pitched to perfection when it replicates your fastball until it sharply slides to the right at a slightly lower speed.

The slider is pitched to perfection when it replicates your fastball until it sharply slides to the right at a slightly lower speed. ”

Kershaw was able to do exactly that throughout the night. Most people believe his curveball is his best pitch as he gets many batters to swing and miss at it, but if you pay very close attention, his slider is his best. Last night, out of Kershaws’ eight strikeouts, seven were on the slider. This is a very high number as most batters are able to figure out how pitches move by then. 

The Rays’ Tyler Glasnow, on the other hand, did not have control of his two main pitches: his fastball, which comes in at an average of 98.7 mph, and his curveball, which looks identical to his fastball right until it drops multiple feet below the batter’s swing.

Glasnow was in control for the majority of his start but began to lose it in the bottom of the 4th inning. He missed and threw his fastball down the middle to Cody Bellinger, allowing last year’s MVP to send the ball into the Dodgers bullpen. This made the score 2-0 as Max Muncy was on second after drawing a walk and being advanced by a ground-out hit by Will Smith. 

The Rays struck back quickly in the top of the 5th when Kershaw let up his second and last hit of the game to Kevin Kiermaier, who hit the ball over the wall to cut the Dodgers’ lead to one. 

 

Over the course of the next two innings, it was all Dodgers. At the bottom of the 5th inning, Mookie Betts walked and right away stole 2nd base. Corey Seager followed Betts with his third walk of the game. When Justin Turner struck out, the Dodgers pulled off a double steal: Betts stole 3rd base and Seager stole second base, at the same time. 

With a runner at third, the Rays moved all their infielders inward onto the grass in hopes of getting Betts out at home. Max Muncy hit the ball to the first baseman, who threw home just a little late. Betts avoided the tag and touched home plate to score his team’s 3rd run of the game. 

The Dodgers didn’t stop there. Throughout the inning, they kept getting people on base and kept hitting singles to score them. Catcher Smith, Chris Taylor, and Enrique Hernandez all had RBI singles. 

Glasnow was taken out after he had given up a total of six runs over the course of four-and-a-third innings. The 6”8, 27-year-old allowed nine baserunners and six of them came around to score. However, he was able to strike out eight Dodgers, too. 

The Dodgers were able to score insurance runs in the following inning as Betts hit a solo home run to make the score 7-1. Then, after Seager popped out, Turner hit a double that bounced off the top of the wall, and the next batter, Muncy, hit another double that bounced right before the wall. This allowed Turner to score the Dodgers’ eighth and last run. 

STARTER: Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitched six innings and allowed just 1 run and 2 hits in Game 1 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Screen capture from mlb.com

 

At the top of the 7th, the Dodgers brought in reliever Dylan Floro and the Rays were able to get something going. After a single and a double to advance Manuel Margot from first to third, the Rays scored a run on an RBI single by the pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau. Kiermaier followed Brosseau’s at-bat with another RBI single. 

This is where a game-changing play happened. With the Dodgers’ Victor Gonzalez pitching, Mike Zunino hit a 105-mph comebacker to Gonzalez, who somehow caught the ball. He then threw it to Seager, the shortstop, to get the second out. 

If Rodriguez had not caught that ball, the Rays’ momentum would have continued and the man in scoring position might have scored. 

Instead, from then on no runs were scored for either team and the final score was 8-3. 

The two stars of this game were Kershaw, who pitched six of his best innings ever, and Betts, who had two runs, two hits and two stolen bases. 

Tonight Los Angeles will face a former Cy Young Award winner in Blake Snell and will be pitching Tony Gonsolin, who has struggled this postseason. The game starts at 5:08 p.m. Pacific Time. 

The Dodgers came into the World Series after winning three straight games to take the NLCS and then were able to keep that momentum going. 

Now, with Game 1 finished, they’re only three more wins away from being World Champions.