It was a long road for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Entering 2020, the Dodgers had seven consecutive division titles accompanied by seven heartbreaking eliminations, including two in the World Series. After making a blockbuster trade for superstar Mookie Betts, the Dodgers were poised to exorcise their demons from past postseasons and prove once and for all that they had what it would take to finally be the champions of baseball.
After winning Game 5 of the World Series, the Dodgers needed just one win to finally get what they were hoping to accomplish after 32 years. The start didn’t look so well for LA, as everything seemed to be going in the favor of the Tampa Bay Rays. Randy Arozarena hit his record-raising 10th home run of the postseason and starter Blake Snell was cruising through the Dodgers lineup. It was still only 1-0 into the 6th inning and the biggest move of the game was made but for the worse. Rays manager, Kevin Cash, removed Snell from the game after he had 9 strikeouts in 5.1 innings and the next three batters he had to face were a combined 0-6 with 6 strikeouts. Cash took the gamble and put in Nick Anderson who had given up a run in 6 straight postseason games. That streak would now become 7 straight as he gave up a single to Austin Barnes, a double to Mookie Betts, a wild pitch to Corey Seager to score Barnes, and a Fielder’s Choice to score Betts. The score was now 2-1 Dodgers and the LA bullpen was in complete lockdown mode. The finishing touch was when Mookie Betts hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th to extend the lead 3-1. Julio Urías pitched the final 2 innings to seal the victory and after eight long years, and one historic season, the Dodgers finally won the World Series.
The World Series MVP was Corey Seager who hit .400 AVG with .556, 5 RBI, .556 OBP, .700 SLG, 1.256 OPS, and 2 Home Runs. Seager is now the 8th player to win CS and WS MVP in the same postseason (last was Madison Bumgarner in 2014 for the Giants). In addition, many postseason narratives have ended, most notably Clayton Kershaw and his infamous postseason past finally getting over the hump and performing at an elite level in the playoffs. It also helps cement manager, Dave Roberts’, legacy as one of the best managers in baseball after years of making managerial mistakes similar to what Kevin Cash did tonight that possibly cost his team the game.
For the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the best seasons in their young history comes to an end. In only their 2nd World Series, they played well, but they got outplayed by a mile. The Rays are a team that runs primarily on advanced analytics and it is things like that which exposed them during this series. Unfortunately, their choice to play their bullpen frequently instead of allowing their starting pitchers to go deep into games is what caused them to give up a lot of unnecessary runs to the Dodgers. The Rays hitting, aside from Randy Arozarena, fell a bit flat in this series and their all-in approach on hitting for home runs completely backfired at multiple points in the series. That being said, they do have a lot of up and coming talent and will easily be back in the future, though they will have to long live with the big “what if” situation regarding what would have happened if Kevin Cash left Blake Snell in the game.
The truncated 2020 MLB season has concluded. It was always a big question over whether or not they would’ve been able to make it this far but the MLB was able to go two full months without a single positive COVID-19 test. That is until this game when Dodgers 3B, Justin Turner, tested positive and had to be removed in-game. The details are still breaking but maybe it’s a good thing for baseball that this series did not have to go seven games and deal with the possibility of a COVID outbreak on the very last day of the season. The offseason will now begin with a large number of free agents who have the chance to significantly help any team that can sign them. It’s going to be an offseason just as unique as the season preceding it.