Less than 24 hours after dropping a heartbreaker, the Los Angeles Dodgers came up with a rebuttal to take Game 5 of the 2020 World Series, 4-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays, to take a 3-2 Fall Classic lead.
One victory in the next two games would win them their first championship since 1988.
Four-different Dodgers drove in runs while Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, and Omar Gonzalez did most of the heavy lifting on the hill to bail out manager Dave Roberts from falling under further scrutiny after his handling of the bullpen Los Angeles’ Game 4 loss.
Kershaw added another chapter to his impressive postseason showing in 2020, which only further cements his case as one of the best pitchers of this generation and as a future Hall of Famer.
He allowed a pair of runs on five hits with six strikeouts in a shortened 5.2 innings of work while May, Gonzalez, and X navigated some dicey situations to secure the win.
The Dodgers put up a three-spot over the first two innings behind a pair of first-inning RBI singles by Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger before Joc Pederson crushed a solo shot in the second against Rays starter Tyler Glasnow — whose World Series struggles continued on Sunday night.
As has become commonplace after Game 4, though, the Rays began chipping away in the third. Yandy Diaz snuck a triple down the right-field line after Mookie Betts to plate Tampa’s opener. Randy Arozarena scored Diaz with a single, which was the Rays star’s 27th hit of the postseason, establishing an MLB record.
The fourth inning provided to be one of the major turning points of the night, though, flipping momentum to the Dodgers.
Kershaw got out of a monster no-out jam with runners on first and third by getting Joey Wendle to pop out to short and Willy Adames to strikeout before Manuel Margot — who initially advanced from first to third on an error by Chris Taylor at second base — tried to take advantage of the ace’s long stretch by stealing home. Despite being hurried, Kershaw was able to effectively step off the rubber to avoid the balk and throw home to get Margot just before he could slip a hand on home.
It was the first unsuccessful steal attempt of home since Game 4 of the 1991 World Series.
Muncy completed the dramatic two-run swing by putting the Dodgers up two with a moonshot of a home run into the right-center field stands in the top-of-the-fifth to go up 4-2.
Glasnow was done after the fifth, capping off his disappointing showing in the Fall Classic with a combined 10 earned runs allowed in 9.1 innings of work.
After getting the first two outs of the sixth inning on just two pitches, Kershaw’s night was inexplicably cut short by manager Dave Roberts — who was heavily booed while pulling the southpaw off the mound after just 85 pitches. He had also retired seven-straight batters without the ball leaving the infield.
It was the plan all along for Roberts, whose questionable decisions played a key role in his club’s Game 4 loss just hours earlier in the wee hours of Sunday morning, as he said pregame that Kershaw was slated to face only 21 batters on the night.
This decision worked out upon immediate execution as Dustin May struck out Margot to end the sixth and set the Rays down in order in the seventh, constantly and casually pumping 100-to-101-mph fastballs in the process.
May got the first out of the eighth after a lead-off single, but Rays manager Kevin Cash went into his bag of tricks to get the impressive youngster out of the game.
Announcing lefty Ji-Man Choi as a pinch-hitter, the Rays got Roberts to pull May for southpaw Omar Gonzalez. They immediately pulled Choi for the righty, Mike Brosseau, with Arozarena — who has killed lefties this postseason — to follow.
Brosseau walked after a wild pitch moved Kevin Kiermaier to second to bring the go-ahead run in Arozarena to the plate, but he flew out on the first pitch he saw before Brandon Lowe popped out to center to get the Dodgers out of the jam.
Following a lead-off single in the ninth by Margot, Blake Treinen ensured there would be no repeat of Tampa dramatics in Game 5, setting down Austin Meadows, Joey Wendle, and Adames in succession to close out the Dodgers’ win.