The Los Angeles Dodgers were crowned World Series champs on Tuesday night after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6. Dodgers SS Corey Seager was named World Series MVP after recording eight total hits and two home runs across six games.
If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that anything can happen.
In no case has such proved more true than with Major League Baseball — perhaps the most unpredictable of sports. This season of baseball, which has been the craziest of the last 30 years, at least, has reached its end.
And, even though it has been played at a neutral site (Arlington, Texas) thousands of miles away from either Tropicana Field (home of the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays) or Dodger Stadium, (home of the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers) the Fall Classic is upon us, and has been about as weird as anyone could imagine.
First World Series oddity, Dodgers LHP Clayton Kerhsaw is actually delivering an ace performance in a postseason series! In Game 1, the Dodger southpaw mowed down eight batters over six innings of one run ball. In Game 5 — and second starts of a series have been where Kershaw has been historically awful — he pitched 5 ⅔ innings of two-run ball. It is unlikely that Kershaw gets another start in this series, though, if this series goes to seven games, a bullpen appearance may not be out of the question.
On the other side of the ball, the vaunted arms of the Rays’ starting pitching corps have been lackluster, to say the least. Tyler Glasnow, whom Tampa Bay acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates as a replacement ace for Chris Archer, has been a dumpster fire. In just over nine innings pitched, he has given up ten runs, putting his ERA north of nine. Blake Snell pitched just well enough in Game 2 to give Tampa Bay the win, but in Game 3, the Dodgers knocked Charlie Morton off the mound in the fifth inning (after Morton surrendered five runs).
Though Tampa Bay fell short in the end, Game 4 of this World Series will go down in history as an instant classic and probably the most exciting Rays game in franchise history. The last three innings alone were fodder for MLB Network to show ad nauseam in offseasons to come.
In the sixth inning, down 4-2, Tampa Bay sent Brendon Lowe — who has batted .123 this postseason — to the plate. He belted a three-run home run. Then, in the top of the seventh, a two RBI single by Joc Pederson made the score 6-5. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, the Rays answered with a Kevin Kiermaier bomb to tie the score. In the top of the eighth, the Dodgers jumped out to a 7-6 lead and it was looking like they would wrap it up.
So, here’s the scene in the bottom of the ninth inning: there are two strikes on Seminole, Florida native Brett Phillips. Kanley Jansen, who is usually incredible in save situations, and especially incredible in two strike counts, is on the mound for the Dodgers. The winning run sits at first base for Tampa Bay.
Phillips dumps the ball into center field. The runner on second is certainly going to score, so tie game, right? Nope, because the ball gets by Chris Taylor, the center fielder. He recovers quickly and has a play at the plate by virtue of Randy Arozarena — the runner on first — slipping as he rounded third. The ball comes into the catcher and Arozarena is clearly going to be out. But the ball gets by. The catcher, who has no backup provided by Jansen — who must have somehow forgotten the first thing you learn as a pitcher (hint: it’s back up the catcher) — has the ball squeak by, and Arozarena reaches home safely to cement a Rays win.
Here are some fun facts to give this year’s World Series some context: In the past seven presidential election years, an AL East team has been in the World Series five times (Blue Jays in 1992; Yankees in 1996, 2000; Red Sox in 2004; Rays in 2008, 2020). The American League has won every contest but one, the 2008 World Series, in which the Rays lost in five games.
Lastly, this series was also the eighth Fall Classic in the last 11 years to go to six games or more.
Finally, this World Series is the first played in a brand new ballpark since 2009, when the new Yankee Stadium played host to the New York Yankees’ world championship run.