The team that was making its third World Series appearance in the past four years certainly looked the part in Game 1 of the 2020 Fall Classic as the Los Angeles Dodgers thumped the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 on Tuesday evening from Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.
After the blockbuster acquisition and subsequent signing of Mookie Betts earlier this season, the Dodgers couldn’t have asked for more from their superstar right fielder in his World Series debut with the club, going 2-for-4 with a home run shortly after a game-altering sequence on the base paths in the fifth inning. All while becoming the first player ever to record multiple steals, a home run, and multiple runs scored in a World Series Game.
With the Dodgers’ lead halved in the top of the fifth following a Kevin Kiermaier solo home run, Betts led off the bottom of the frame with a walk. He proceeded to steal second and third base before sprinting home on a Max Muncy grounder to first — taking advantage of a healthy secondary lead to safely score despite the quick turnaround and throw home by Yandy Diaz.
Betts became just the second player in World Series history with a walk and multiple stolen bases in a single inning, joining Yankees legend Babe Ruth in Game 2 of the 1921 World Series against the New York Giants.
His heads-up base-running helped blow the doors open in the fifth as the Dodgers put up a four-spot to take a 6-1 behind singles from Will Smith, Chris Taylor, and Enrique Hernandez.
All six runs were saddled to Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, who was initially tagged for a two-run home run by NLCS Game 7 hero Cody Bellinger in the fourth.
It was more than enough for Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw, who used Game 1 to take a monster step toward reversing the reputation of his postseason struggles.
Entering the World Series with an 11-12 record and 4.31 ERA in the playoffs, Kershaw was sterling, allowing just one run — the Kiermaier round-tripper — on two hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in six innings of work.
He became just the sixth pitcher in MLB history to have at least two World Series starts in a career striking out at least eight batters while walking one or fewer.
The two aces initially had Game 1 looking like a pitchers duel, posting zeroes over the first three innings before the Dodgers got to Glasnow.
Betts continued his stellar day by launching an opposite-field solo home run to lead off the sixth inning before a pair of doubles from Justin Turner and Muncy made it 8-1.
Tampa would threaten in the seventh, plating a pair of runs off Victor Gonzalez who proceeded to put runners on first and second with one out and Mike Zunino — who has four home runs this postseason — at the dish. The Rays catcher ripped a bullet right up the middle but it was remarkably stabbed out of the air by the outstretched glove of the Dodgers’ reliever. He completed the inning-ending double play by nabbing Mike Brosseau at second.