Austin Schuster – 23 Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers are World Series champions. It has been 32 years since anyone’s been able to say that. In a series that went six games with the exciting Tampa Bay Rays, the Dodgers were able to win the title in an abbreviated season that was scarred by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It raises the question of how legitimate their title is. However, every team got the same chance that the Dodgers did, so it definitely is a legitimate title. One has to appreciate the obstacles that the team had to navigate to win the World Series. What follows is a recap of the final three games of the series.

Game Four on Saturday night proved to be an instant classic. The Dodgers led the series two games to one going into the game. Julio Urias got the start for LA against Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays. The Dodgers wasted no time getting on the board, as Justin Turner smacked a solo home run in the first inning. Corey Seager added to that with a solo shot of his own in the third inning to make it 2-0. However, Randy Arozarena of the Rays hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead in half. The Rays turned to their bullpen early, a move they became famous for, as Yarbrough only went 3.1 innings. Urias also got pulled early, going 4.2 innings. Max Muncy drove in Seager in the fifth with an RBI single to make it 3-1, but Hunter Renfroe homered in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to one again.

The cycle continued in the sixth inning, as Enrique Hernandez doubled home Will Smith to make it 4-2, however, Brandon Lowe hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to give Tampa Bay its first lead of the night, 5-4. However, it was short-lived, as Joc Pederson put the Dodgers back on top in the seventh with a two-run scoring single that scored Seager and Justin Turner. And sure enough, Kevin Kiermaier tied it up at six with a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh. Seager gave the Dodgers the lead 7-6 in the top of the eighth, but of course, that was not it.

In one of the most exciting finishes in World Series history, newly acquired Brett Phillips stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second, two outs, and down by one. Phillips blooped a short single into center field that allowed Kiermaier to score from second and tie the game. The ball was mishandled a bit by center fielder Chris Taylor, which allowed Arozarena to round third and head for home. Taylor fired the ball to pitcher Kenley Jansen, who threw to the catcher, Smith. Arozarena was out by a longshot, but the ball got away from Smith, and Arozarena scored, giving the Rays the 8-7 walk-off win. The thrilling victory allowed Tampa Bay to tie the series at two games apiece.

Clayton Kershaw started Game Five on Sunday night for the Dodgers, against Tyler Glasnow. Once again, the scoring started in the top of the first. Los Angeles was able to put two early runs on the board, coming on singles from Seager and Cody Bellinger. Pederson added to the lead the very next inning with a solo homer to make it 3-0 Dodgers. In the bottom of the third, the Rays scored their only two runs of the night, the first on an RBI triple by Yandy Diaz, and the second on an RBI single by Arozarena. Muncy homered in the top of the fifth to make it 4-2 Dodgers, and this would be the final score. Kershaw was solid, going 5.2 innings, allowing only two runs to get the win. With the win, the Dodgers went up in the series three games to two, moving within one win of the championship.

In Game Six on Tuesday, which would ultimately prove to be the final Major League Baseball game of 2020, Blake Snell started for the Rays, trying to save their season, against Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers. This time, it was the Rays who struck first, as Arozarena continued his record-setting Postseason with a solo home run in the top of the first, but it would be Tampa Bay’s only run of the night. The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when Austin Barnes scored on a wild pitch by Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson to tie the game at 1. Mookie Betts then scored on a fielder’s choice from Seager to give LA the lead. Finally, Betts put it away in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run to make it 3-1 Dodgers. Urias returned to the mound for the top of the ninth looking to end the Dodgers’ championship drought, and he did just that. He retired all three batters, and as soon as strike three blazed past Willy Adames to record the final out, the Dodgers celebrated. The players mobbed each other in the middle of the infield, and the drought was finally over, as was perhaps the most unique season that baseball has ever seen.

Seger was named the Most Valuable Player of the series, batting .400 with two home runs and five RBI’s in the series. Baseball has never seen anything like the 2020 season. The players and fans alike were both left in the air on the sport’s fate. Would they play? If so, how? It came as a relief that they were able to play 60 games. The Dodgers were able to prove the doubters wrong, and win a legitimate title.

About Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)

View all posts by Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)