Commentary, Sports

Dodgers once again crowned champions after 32 years

For the first time since 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers joined the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday in bringing a dual championship back to the city.

Magic Johnson’s Lakers defeated a very strong Detroit Pistons team led by Isiah Thomas during that year’s NBA finals, winning the championship in seven games. 

Across town, the Dodgers defeated the Oakland A’s in five games to win the championship. That year, Orel Hershier was named the World Series MVP, and James Worthy for the Lakers.

This year, the Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, were crowned champions after defeating a young Miami Heat team led by Jimmy Butler.

For the first time since 2013, two Major League Baseball teams with the highest winning percentage in the regular season from each league faced each other in the fall classic.

In Game 1 of the World Series, Dodgers ace LHP Clayton Kershaw, squared off against RHP Rays ace, Tyler Glasnow. Kershaw was looking to fight past his postseason demons and throw an impressive outing, while Glasnow was trying to keep his outstanding postseason run going.

Clayton Kershaw and Vin Scully share a laugh in the dugout. Jacob Powers/ Daily Forty-Niner

Both starting pitchers looked solid early Game 1. Kershaw’s curveball and slider were breaking just in time to fool a swinging and missing Rays lineup. Glasnow was throwing a 100 mph fastball that put the Dodgers in trouble the first two innings of the game.

However, outfielder Cody Bellinger homered off Glasnow during the bottom of the fourth inning to put LA momentarily up 2-0. The following bottom half of Game 1, Dodgers’ superstar Mookie Betts stole two bases that sparked a rally that would add four more runs.

Glasnow was pulled after pitching 4 ⅓  innings and a career-high 112 pitches. He gave up three hits and earned six runs. Kershaw pitched six complete innings, gave up two hits and struck out eight, while earning one run.

The Rays showed signs of a comeback during the top of the seventh inning when they scored two runs. However, Dodgers’ relief pitcher Victor Gonzalez came out of the bullpen to assist on a double-play that killed the Rays building momentum.

Despite showing a hitting consistency during the American League championship series against the Houston Astros, the Rays were unable to hit off LA’s pitchers all night during Game 1, costing them the victory. Prior to the first pitch, Rays’ slugger Randy Arozarena was hitting .321 but was unable to record a hit in three at-bats during the night.

Betts became the second player in MLB history to record a walk and steal two bases in an inning since Babe Ruth in 1921.

The key to Game 1was the Dodgers’ ability to earn their walks and consistently drive-in runs via singles and doubles. Outfielders Betts and Bellinger contributed with one home-run each that sealed a 8-3 victory, giving them a 1-0 lead in the World Series. 

In Game 2, Tampa showed a different face. RHP Tony Gonsolin started for the Dodgers, while the Rays sent LHP Blake Snell to stop a Dodgers offense that showed no signs of slowing up the previous night.

The Rays’ offense started early when second baseman Brandon Lowe homered off Gonsolin in the first inning, giving Tampa an early lead. Scoring first was a huge priority for the Rays, since Tampa hadn’t lost a game after scoring first during the majority of the postseason.

Snell was locating his pitch arsenal with ease, tossing 4 ⅔ scoreless innings and striking out nine.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Game 1 that he was going to rely on his bullpen for the entirety of Game 2 to give his starters an extra day off. Gonsolin wasn’t able to provide the Dodgers any help after only going 1 ⅓ innings.

After a tough loss in game one, the Rays’ bats came to life, collecting 10 hits in the game. The Rays’ second baseman Brandon Lowe, who had been struggling to hit in the postseason averaging .131 coming into the at-bat, homered twice to lead the Rays’ offense. 

Right fielder Manuel Margot and first baseman Ji-Man Choi added a couple more hits that simply left no choice but for Roberts to use multiple arms in the game.

The Dodgers would end the night using seven relievers, including RHP Dustin May. The Rays’ five pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts. After showing discipline at the plate during Game 1, the Dodgers’ lineup came out swinging over aggressively in Game 2, striking out quickly.

Despite the loss, the Dodgers’ sluggers shortstop Corey Seager, catcher Will Smith and outfielder Chris Taylor built momentum by homering. For a moment, they brought hopes of a comeback, but soon fell short.

With their 6-4 win, the Rays were able to tie the series at a game all.

After a full day off in nearly two weeks, the Dodgers and Rays battled hard in Game 3.

Downton Los Angeles as seen from Dodger Stadium. Jacob Powers/ Daily Forty-Niner

Perhaps their best pitcher in their lineup, RHP Charlie Morton started for the Rays, posting a 1.45 ERA in the 2020 postseason to win his last seven outings. The Dodgers sent RHP Walker Buehler to the mound with hopes to stop a Rays lineup that was very aggressive in Game 2.

However, after only 13 pitches in the top of the first inning, Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner homered off Morton in a pitch left over the middle of the plate.

Buehler’s fastfall at times reached a whopping 99 mph, and he was able to have full control of his location. In the first two innings, Buehler struck out four batters, retiring the side in consecutive innings.

Morton found more trouble in the third after hitting Corey Seager and giving extra base hits to Justin Turner and Max Muncy that gave the Dodgers an early 3-0 lead. 

The Dodgers followed up with more hits in the top of the fourth that would add two more runs, making the score 5-0. Morton exited the game after 4 ⅓ innings and 91 pitches, giving up five runs.

Buehler dominated through six innings, allowing only one run via extra base hits.

The key to Game 3 was the Dodgers’ ability to battle in 0-2 counts while being able to score with two outs. In fact, the Dodgers have scored 50 runs with two outs, the most during any postseason.

Outfielder Randy Arozarena homered off RHP Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth to seal the final score 6-2, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the series.

Game 4 was a total showdown.

Two lefties in Dodgers’ Julio Urias and Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough took to the mound to give the edge to their teams. Yarbrough, who despite having a mix of pitches in his repertoire, saw trouble early in the game.

The game was a back-and-forth fight between two lineups that came out swinging hard. Coming down to the wire, it was the small mistakes that ultimately made the difference.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers were up 7-6. To close the game, Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts called upon his closer Kenley Jansen. 

Announcer Vin Scully is honored following a win in 2017. Jacob Powers/Daily Forty-Niner

Jansen, who despite giving up a home run to outfielder Randy Arozarena the previous night, had been pitching well in previous back-to-back games.

He was able to record the first out without any trouble. 

However, trouble soon followed after giving up a single to outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. The second out was recorded after third baseman, Joey Wendle, lined out to left field. Jansen added pressure after walking outfielder Randy Arozarena, advancing Kiermaier to second. 

A tragic set of plays unfolded when outfielder Brandon Phillips singled to center field and a fielding error by Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor allowed Phillips to get to second base and Arozarena to score on a throwing error to home plate, giving the Rays a thrilling 8-7 win.

The Rays were able to tie the series at two, capitalizing on small errors in the ninth that cost the Dodgers hugely.

Despite a tragic loss, the Dodgers bounced back early in Game 5. Lefty Clayton Kershaw took the ball for the second time this series against RHP Tyler Glasnow, who was trying to recover from his last outing in Game 1.

Outfielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Corey Seager started early hitting back-to-back doubles to score first. Glasnow didn’t seem to have his command but still was visibly comfortable throwing 100 mph. 

Glasnow’s night finished after pitching five complete innings and giving up four runs. He also struck out seven batters.

Kershaw finally put an end to the narrative about his postseason struggles after pitching 5 ⅔  innings, giving up only two runs while striking out six. Getting run support from the offense early in the game allowed him to be more aggressive in the way he was able to command his pitches.

The key to Game 5 came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when outfielder Manuel Margot tried to steal home but got caught by a well-executed play from Kershaw and first baseman Max Muncy. 

That play could have tied the game and changed its outcome, but the excellent defensive play between Muncy and Kershaw made all the difference.

The Dodgers took a 3-2 lead with hopes to finish the job in six games. 

RHP Tony Gonsolin took the mound for the Dodgers in Game six with hopes to close out this series and win the championship. The Rays were looking to survive this game and force a Game seven. Rays’ skipper, Kevin Cash, gave the ball to Cy Young award winner Blake Snell to stop the Dodgers offense.

Gonsolin was unable to deliver, yet again, after giving up a homerun to outfielder Randy Arozarena, making it a postseason-high 10 home runs. Gonsolin only pitched 1 ⅔ innings, earned one run and struck out four. 

Snell was cruising through five scoreless innings, only allowing one hit and striking out nine in  just 73 pitches. In a shocking move, Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash came out of the dugout to pull Snell from the game, leaving catcher Austin Barnes on first base. 

Outfielder Mookie Betts hit a double off RHP Nick Anderson to move Barnes to third base. A wild pitch from Anderson scored Barnes, tying the game 1-1. 

Shortstop Corey Seager hit an infield single that scored Betts, who moved to third base after the wild pitch, giving the Dodgers their first lead of the game 2-1.

In the bottom of the eight inning, Betts homered to center off relief pitcher Peter Fairbanks taking a 3-1 lead three outs shy of winning the championship.

LHP Julio Urias came out from the bullpen during the top of the seventh inning with two outs and retired the side in back-to-back innings to shut down the Rays offense and earned the most important save of his career and giving the Dodgers the highly anticipated trophy.

Jacob Powers, sports editor, contributed to this article.

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