October 27, 2020

World Series Game 6: Dodgers 3, Rays 1

Rays    - 100 000 000 - 1  5  0
Dodgers - 000 002 01x - 3  5  0 

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2020 World Series champions

Seven relievers held the Tampa Bay Rays in check, with Julio Urías, the final arm out of the bullpen, recording the most outs. He worked 2.1 innings and struck out four batters, including the final two, with pinpoint control.

But on a night when the Dodgers captured their first title in 32 years, it was Rays manager Kevin Cash who played the most pivotal role in Game 6. Cash had said during Monday's off-day that he would be aggressive with his bullpen. So when starter Blake Snell allowed a single to his 18th batter, Cash yanked him. Considering the circumstances, it was a shocking and baffling and beyond-risky move. The bold move backfired almost immediately.

Snell (5.1-2-1-0-9, 73) had been utterly dominant. He struck out the first three batters of the game and five of the first six (joining Sandy Koufax as the only lefties to strike out 5+ batters in the first two innings of a World Series game). Snell gave up a hit to Chris Taylor to open the third, but then retired the next 10 Dodgers, including striking out Mookie Betts and Corey Seager (who was named the World Series MVP) for the second time in as many at-bats. 

Snell's pitch count was low (12-12-15 16-14) and his fastball velocity averaged 96.3. The Dodgers did not put even one of his 29 fastballs into play. The Dodgers took 34 swings at Snell and had an eye-popping 16 misses. Everything he threw was filthy. He was unhittable.

And Cash took him out of the game. Snell must have thought he was hallucinating when he saw Cash coming to the mound. Nick Anderson took over. He threw two balls to Betts and then Mookie lined a double down the left field line. Two pitches later, a wild pitch scored Austin Barnes and put Betts on third. (That was the second save-blowing wild pitch in WS history.) Seager grounded the next pitch to first. When Ji-Man Choi gloved it, Betts was already halfway home. (Anderson has now allowed at least one run in seven straight postseason games, the longest streak by a reliever in major league history. Maybe not the right guy to go to first, after Snell.)

Watching live from the high-home camera, it was clear the throw would be late and Choi should take the out at first. He threw home, the throw was late, and there was no out at first. Justin Turner's fly to left pushed Randy Arozarena nearly to the wall for the second out. Another pitching change and the inning was over. But in the span of only six pitches, the Rays went from thinking about Game 7 to being nine outs from winter.

The only motive was that the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any in the league. Personally, I felt Blake had done his job and then some. Mookie coming around the third time. I totally value and respect the questions that come with it. . . . Didn't want Mookie or Seager seeing Blake a third time. There was no set plan. As much as people think, there's no set plan.
Turner was replaced at third base in the top of the eighth because he tested positive for COVID-19. If the Rays won tonight, Game 7 might have been postponed for a while. Turner played seven innings without knowing he was infected. At least he never got on base. (Why are test results being delivered in the middle of a World Series game?)

It was Arozarena who had given the Rays a 1-0 lead with a first-inning home run. That also set a record of five consecutive games in a World Series with scoring in the top of the first. 

Tampa Bay stranded runners at first and second in each of the first two innings. They would have only two baserunners over the final seven innings. Arozarena singled with two outs in the fifth and Mike Zunino singled with two outs in the seventh. Both runners were left at first. Excluding Arozarena's trot around the bases, the Rays had no runners past second base all night.

It was Zunino's hit that prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to bring in Urías. The young lefty painted the outside black to finish off pinch-hitter Yandy Díaz in the seventh. Urías needed only 10 pitches to get the Rays' 2-3-4 hitters in the eighth. Arozarena lined out to Cody Bellinger, who ran down his rope in right-center. Hunter Renfroe grounded to third and Brandon Lowe struck out swinging.

Betts bashed a home run to start the LA ninth, driving the dagger in by giving his team a two-run lead. With Urías back on the hill, Manuel Margot flied to Betts in the bottom of the ninth. One out. Mike Brosseau worked a full count before being frozen with an inside fastball for strike three. Two outs. Willy Adames swung at a high fastball and missed, then took two unhittable inside fastballs, one at 94 and the second at 97.
Urías is the second pitcher in World Series history with a seven-out (official) save and no baserunners allowed, joining Dick Hall of the 1970 Orioles, in Game 2 against the Reds. (Perhaps Mr. Hall, age 90, was watching tonight.)

This was the first time in World Series history that a team's top three batters (Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner) each struck out multiple times and the team still won.

This was also the first time in World Series history three different pitchers for same team (Alex Wood, Victor Gonzalez, Julio Urias) allowed no baserunners and struck out three or more batters. (Joe Kelly and Chris Sale of the Red Sox were the only pair of teammates to ever do it, against the Dodgers in 2018.)

Blake Snell became the first pitcher in World Series history to allow two or fewer hits, strike out nine or more, and not get a win. That was Game 2. He did it again tonight, in Game 6! Snell is the first pitcher in postseason history with two such games in his career.

During the postgame ceremonies, the boos rained down on Commissioner Rob Manfred as good as he was introduced. He began speaking: "2020 is going to be remembered –" and then had to stop. Fox cut away, denying us the pleasure of seeing Manfred standing there, alone, waiting for the boos he so deserves to subside. As soon he started talking again, the boos increased. There was no way he was going to stop a second time, so he plowed through (Fox eventually cut back, but not right away), and awarded the 2020 Piece of Metal™.
That is so great, I had to include it twice.
Manfred then stood awkwardly by himself as Dodgers executives thanked the crowd.

Shortly after the Dodgers tied it up, Cash's Wikipedia page was updated to note that he is the manager of the Dodgers, working as a double agent.

That actually makes more sense than Cash's excuse.
I was watching on mute until the last of the ninth. And – no surprise – I heard John Smoltz being an idiot immediately, when he warned the Dodgers against counting outs . . . with two outs to go. That silly warning should have been given after the Dodgers took the lead and the Rays were batting in the seventh. Nine outs is too many outs to take a win for granted. But two? (The last batter of the season is on deck!)

And then after it was all over, Smoltz said this:
Blake Snell pitched the game of his life, but in the end, the Dodgers were just too much.
What?? In the game I watched, the Dodgers didn't do shit with Snell. He was toying with them.

More like this:
Blake Snell pitched the game of his life, but in the end, his manager had the power to take him out of the game.
Finally, plate umpire Jerry Meals made two of the more horrendous calls you'll see in the first two innings.

First, there was a called strike (#2) on Margot in the top of the first. Meals probably blew the call on pitch #3 as well.

He called a strike on an identical pitch (#3) to LA's Will Smith in the bottom of the second, while also blowing the call on pitch #1:

Meals was not alone in in having zero clue how to call low pitches in or below the zone. Pitches along the bottom of the zone were really a crap shoot in every game.

Robots, now!

The most recent shot in the Giants-Dodgers feud!
Blake Snell / Tony Gonsolin

The Dodgers could win their first title in 32 years tonight.

However, teams with a 3-2 lead in the World Series have won the championship fewer than two-thirds of the time (65.7%, 44 of 67).

1 comment:

tim said...

"Los Angeles can smell it, and Tampa Bay will Snell it."

Somehow mainstream journalism continues to get worse...