Dodgers jump on Rays early, ride Walker Buehler to World Series Game 3 victory
ARLINGTON, Texas — Walker Buehler strutted off the mound Friday night as if this wasn’t the World Series, as if 10 strikeouts in six overpowering innings was nothing, as if these kinds of dominant performances on his sport’s grandest stage are routine.
They aren’t for most pitchers, but most pitchers don’t have the résumé Buehler has produced in his young major league career. He is a big-game pitcher in every sense of the overused descriptor. He provided more evidence in the Dodgers’ thorough 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the World Series at Globe Life Field.
Jansen hits 95 mph, yields homer to Rays’ Randy Arozarena and closes out victory
Kenley Jansen has rediscovered some velocity. The Dodgers’ veteran reliever threw three pitches at 95 mph in the ninth inning.
He gave up a homer to Randy Arozarena — a 111 mph missile that traveled 397 feet into the left-field corner for a two-out solo shot — on a hanging fastball but otherwise looked sharp as could be.
The Dodgers’ 6-2 lead gives them a two-games-to-one lead in the World Series.
Kenley Jansen pitches ninth for Dodgers
The top of the Rays’ order is due up in the ninth and the batters will contend with the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen.
The Dodgers have a five-run lead and three outs to get to pull ahead two-games-to-one in the best-of-seven series.
Brusdar Graterol’s inning features 102 mph heat
Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol set a career-high while firing seven pitches in a perfect eighth inning.
The 22-year-old hit exactly 102 mph on the radar gun with his third and penultimate pitches of the frame. He had never thrown a heater that hard in his MLB career.
In two-strikeout inning, Blake Treinen flaunted his nasty sinker
Blake Treinen flashed the best version of his trademark sinker in a perfect seventh inning. Of four he threw, one was called for a strike, another produced a foul ball and another generated a hopeless swing.
Take a look at the sinker’s movement. It ended Manuel Margot’s at-bat.
Who is Jim Bonds, the name Dave Roberts wrote for Stand Up to Cancer moment?
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts paid tribute to Jim Bonds during the World Series’ Stand Up to Cancer interlude.
Bonds, a longtime football coach and mentor, has been battling cancer for months.
It appears that Bonds noticed Roberts’ sign:
We’ll let the Times’ Eric Sondheimer tell Bonds’ story:
“Jim Bonds, the beloved football coach for 20 seasons at La Cañada St. Francis, is very sick. He has quietly battled cancer for months, not wanting to worry others with his struggles through chemotherapy and uncertainty.
“Enough. It’s time for those who have long admired and appreciated his leadership, friendship and wisdom to speak up to let him know how special he has been in everyone’s lives.”
Blake Treinen relieves Walker Buehler
The Dodgers have turned over the game to reliever Blake Treinen.
Buehler’s final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. Buehler threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of 21 batters.
Another key to Buehler’s success: His knuckle-curve
Walker Buehler has navigated six innings and nearly 2 1/2 trips through the Rays’ order with very little difficulty. It’s not just his 97 mph fastball — which has drawn 12 swings and misses on 33 swings — underscoring his success. His four-pitch arsenal is getting a boost from his breaking pitches.
He has thrown 14 knuckle-curves and 12 sliders. The Rays have only put four in play.
In the sixth inning, Buehler’s strikeout total for the game rose to 10. This marks the first double-digit strikeout performance of his playoff career. Buehler has given up one run on five hits with 17 strikeouts in two World Series starts so far.
Buehler’s night is nearing its end. He has thrown 93 pitches. Blake Treinen has been warming in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Dodgers starter Julio Urías won’t have family at Game 4, but support is a call away
The father of Julio Urías drove 13 hours overnight from his home in the Mexican state of Sinaloa to Phoenix to see his 18-year-old son make his spring-training debut, a 1 2/3-inning scoreless appearance for the Dodgers in March 2015.
So one can imagine how agonizing it will be for Carlos Urías to not be at Globe Life Field on Saturday night when Julio, now a 24-year-old Dodgers left-hander, makes the biggest start of his life in Game 4 of the World Series against Tampa Bay.
“My dad, he’s a baseball addict. We’re always in contact,” Urías said in Spanish before Game 3 on Friday night. “I got advice from him. He’s the coach who knows me best. He knows when I’m right, when I’m wrong, and really to remember those good moments we had together, him as my coach, me as his player.”
Barnes solo shot makes it 6-1 Dodgers
ARLINGTON, Texas – Two innings after executing a safety squeeze sac bunt, Austin Barnes swings away and connects with a 0-and-2 slider, hitting a solo home run to left-center field to make it 6-1 Dodgers.
Barnes is now the 11th different Dodgers player to hit a home run in this postseason.
Willy Adames puts Rays on the board in fifth
Two batters after Manuel Margot broke up Walker Buehler’s no-hitter, the Rays’ Willy Adames roped a double into the left field corner to send home Margot, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 5-1.
Buehler induced a ground ball to second base to strand Adames.
Through five innings, Buehler has thrown 74 pitches and generated 13 swings and misses. His fastball has accounted for eight whiffs.
Manuel Margot doubles down the line, breaks up Walker Buehler’s no-hitter
For 4 1/3 innings tonight, Dodgers starter Walker Buehler looked unhittable, spinning his high-90s fastball took keep the Rays off balance. But with one out in the fifth inning, Buehler was bested. Manuel Margot turned on an up-and-in fastball and sent it rolling up the third base line for a double.
The Rays’ first hit of the evening traveled only 63 feet in the air before hitting the ground.
Dodgers chase Morton in the fifth
ARLINGTON, Texas — Charlie Morton doesn’t make it out of the fifth tonight. After walking Max Muncy with one out, Rays manager Kevin Cash turned to his bullpen, bringing in John Curtiss to finish the inning.
Morton’s final line: 4.1 innings, 5 runs, 7 hits, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run.
Meanwhile, Walker Buehler has yet to allow a hit and has a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
Dodgers add to lead, scoring again with two outs
ARLINGTON, Texas — Small ball alert! The Dodgers scored two more runs in the fourth, including one via a sac bunt.
After singles from Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson put runners on the corners, Austin Barnes put down a bunt to bring home Bellinger and move Pederson to second.
In the next at-bat, Mookie Betts singled up the middle to make it 5-0 Dodgers.
L.A. now has 49 two-out runs in this postseason, most in the wild-card era of the playoffs (since 1994)
Listen to Joe Buck and read Times’ reporter Jack Harris’ piece on Walker Buehler
You might have heard Joe Buck reference an article about the lessons Walker Buehler learned at Vanderbilt University. The piece, written by the Times’ Jack Harris, delves into the game of “skins” Buehler and his teammates played to simulate high-intensity scenarios on the mound.
“If we played nine innings,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin told Harris, “there would never be an inning where a pitcher would start without traffic — he would be sideways the entire time.”
Buehler’s fastball is humming and other interesting Dodger developments
Walker Buehler is spinning his fastball more than ever tonight.
And here are a few other notable milestones:
Walker Buehler adds two more strikeouts in scoreless second
ARLINGTON, Texas — Walker Buehler’s second inning was just as dominant as his first — 11 pitches, two strikeouts, side retired in order.
He’s striking guys out in a lot of different ways so far too...
Ji-Man Choi shows off his splits
Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi showed off his flexibility on a short throw from shortstop Willy Adames in the first-inning.
Splits have been to a specialty of Choi’s for years. They first gained attention when he was with the Angels in 2016.
Buehler makes easy work of Rays in first
ARLINGTON, Texas — Walker Buehler mows down the Rays in the first, retiring the side in order on just 11 pitches. He struck out Brandon Lowe with a curveball that froze the Rays second baseman for a called third strike, then fanned Randy Arozarena with a slider.
Justin Turner homers to spark early Dodgers lead
The Dodgers barely wasted time getting to Rays starter Charlie Morton. In a 1-2 count, Justin Turner jumped on Morton’s high fastball and sent it soaring 397 feet to left field for a two-out solo homer in the first inning.
The rally continued with Max Muncy’s single on a ground ball that deflected off Morton’s leg. But he was left stranded by Will Smith.
The Dodgers lead 1-0.
Meet Charlie Morton, the Rays’ Game 3 starter
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers are well-acquainted with 36-year-old right-hander Charlie Morton, especially in the World Series. As a member of the Houston Astros in 2017, Morton allowed only two runs over 10 1/3 innings in two outings in that year’s World Series, including a winning effort in relief in the decisive Game 7.
Since joining the Rays last year, Morton has only added to his postseason reputation. Over the past two Octobers, he has won all five of his starts. He shutout the Astros in both of his ALCS starts earlier this month, entering tonight’s Game 3 on a 10 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
Once a sinker-ball specialist, Morton has diversified his arsenal in recent years, adopting a mid-90s mph four-seam fastball and hard-spinning curveball as his primary pitches. He gets fewer ground balls than he used to (his ground-ball rate has dropped from 66% in 2016 to 43% this year) but does induce more swing-and-misses. His 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings this year was a drop from his career-high mark of 11.1 in 2019, yet was still almost two above his career average of 8.0.
Morton has not faced the Dodgers since that Game 7 in 2017.
What to know about Dodgers-Rays World Series Game 3
First pitch: 5:08 p.m. PT
Dodgers notes: In his previous four playoff starts, Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler held hitters to four runs, a .208 average and a .619 OPS. He struck out 29 while issuing 11 walks over 19 innings. ... Last time the Dodgers faced Charlie Morton in a World Series start, he gave up one run and three hits while striking out seven for the Houston Astros. ... What will be the key to getting to the Morton? Will Smith, who had just completed his first full season in pro ball when the Dodgers faced Morton in the ’17 World Series: “Rack up his pitch count, spoil pitches, move the ball, get runners over, drive guys in. It’s what we’ve done all year long.”
The roof at Globe Life Field will be closed Friday, which could result in a slight decrease in offense.
Rays notes: Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot, former San Diego Padres, are the only Rays with experience facing Buehler. They are a combined 2 for 9. ... Kevin Kiermaier has long been considered one of the best center fielders in baseball. But his 2020 metrics apparently weren’t good enough to warrant a Gold Glove nomination. Asked for his thoughts, he said, “I was thinking about this question long before I got into this interview room, and I wanted to tread lightly, not say something I’d regret, but I think you guys know how I feel about it. ... I’d be lying if said I wasn’t upset about it. If it was solely based on the computers and numbers, I don’t know what numbers that computer was looking at, but I believe they got it wrong.” ... According to team notes, the Rays hit .286 (10 for 35) in Game 2, ending a streak of hitting .230 (or worse) in 10 straight games. That had been the longest in postseason history.
Why are Dodgers in control of World Series? Star starters didn’t pitch Game 2
There was little for the Dodgers to celebrate on Wednesday night.
Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May succumbed once more to stage fright. The bullpen inspired minimal confidence. Mookie Betts was kept in check, which effectively shut down the Dodgers offense for most of the game.
Hidden in the avalanche of concerns that surfaced in a 6-4 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the World Series, there was a minor but nonetheless important victory.
Julio Urías didn’t pitch.
This column has often been a place to examine the team’s problems and shortcomings, but that feels entirely unnecessary at the moment.
Dodgers’ Game 2 loss looked eerily similar to past World Series failures
The blank stares. The anguished cries. The flailing bats. The bobbled ball.
The ghost of the Dodgers’ World Series past clinked across the diamond Wednesday night, and it was pretty horrifying.
Dave Roberts hanging on the dugout railing looking lost. Dustin May jumping off the mound and screaming to the sky. Cody Bellinger trudging away from home plate while glaring down and scolding himself.
‘The common denominator is stupidity’: Mookie Betts, the Babe and a Pissah-ed off city
For fans of the Boston Red Sox, this postseason, especially the World Series, is best watched through the cracks between the fingers covering their faces. Better to gaze directly at a solar eclipse with the naked eye than to watch the splendor of Mookie Betts on a nightly basis.
Mookie, you may have heard, once played for the Red Sox. Just like Babe Ruth once did before Sox owner Harry Frazee sold him to the New York Yankees, 100 years, one month and 15 days before Betts was traded in February to the Dodgers.
The Ruth sale haunted the Sox for the better part of a century. They went 86 years between winning World Series titles.
Mookie Betts’ Nashville upbringing steadied by constant caring from both parents
ARLINGTON, Texas — To understand Mookie Betts — the intense work ethic, the unquantifiable intangibles, the elite abilities — start with his parents.
His mother, Diana Collins, worked at the Tennessee Department of Transportation. His father, Willie Betts, built a career as a railroad mechanical superintendent after serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.
They divorced when Mookie was in elementary school but the two retirees remain close. They’ve been in Texas since their 28-year-old son entered the bubble for the National League Division Series. They watched him, from afar at Globe Life Field, lead the Dodgers, the organization that acquired and made him a very rich man this year, to the World Series with an array of contributions.
Dodgers have stopped Rays’ Randy Arozarena. But he can still ruin their World Series
A Tampa Bay Ray who can ruin the Dodgers’ shot at a championship didn’t get a hit in his first seven plate appearances of the World Series. He didn’t make it past second base in the first two games. He was intentionally walked — his third free pass of the series — before he even got his first hit in the ninth inning of Game 2. He narrowly beat third baseman Justin Turner’s throw to first base.
Hustle secured that two-out knock. And hustle easily could turn favor in the Rays’ direction if the Dodgers aren’t careful with outfielder Randy Arozarena, the breakout star who tied Derek Jeter for most hits in a single postseason by a rookie (22) with that infield single off Jake McGee.
Through two games, the Dodgers have neutralized the threat of the 185-pound man who became an internet sensation for spinning on his head in a celebratory dance-off with his teammates and strutting around in what he calls botas de poder — boots of power.
Walker Buehler’s unshakable confidence comes from repeated tests at Vanderbilt
The game is called “skins” — a staple of offseason practices for Vanderbilt University’s baseball team.
The rules are complex, but the idea is simple. Every inning begins with the pitcher and the defense facing specific leverage situations. Sometimes there is a runner on second. Sometimes the bases are loaded. The point is, there is always tension. Always pressure.
“If we played nine innings,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said, “there would never be an inning where a pitcher would start without traffic — he would be sideways the entire time.”
Dodgers’ World Series Game 3 lineup: Austin Barnes is again behind the plate
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers will have Austin Barnes start at catcher for Walker Buehler in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday.
It’ll be Barnes’ second start of the series against the Tampa Bay Rays. He began the postseason as Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher — he’s been behind the plate for each of his four playoff starts — and has emerged as Buehler’s catcher as well.
Roof at Globe Life Field will be closed tonight for Game 3 of the World Series
ARLINGTON, Texas — Major League Baseball announced the roof at Globe Life Field will closed for Game 3 of the World Series on Friday.
“Given Friday’s forecasted temperatures, wind chill, and the possibility of rain, the Commissioner’s Office has determined that the roof of Globe Life Field will be closed for Game Three,” a league statement read. “MLB, which consulted with medical advisors in reaching this decision, believes that a closed roof will provide the best competitive environment for players and the most comfort for fans without jeopardizing their safety in any way.”
Ability to turn balls into strikes puts Austin Barnes behind the plate for Game 3
The elite pitch-framing and solid game-calling skills of Austin Barnes is expected to net the Dodgers backup the start behind the plate with ace Walker Buehler in Game 3 of the World Series against Tampa Bay on Friday night. Hard-hitting catcher Will Smith is expected to start at designated hitter.
Barnes teamed with Buehler in the must-win Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, when Buehler threw six scoreless innings, allowing seven hits, striking out six and walking none, in a 3-1 win over Atlanta.
Smith, who has a stronger throwing arm than Barnes but is not as nimble of a receiver, caught Buehler’s first three playoff starts, the hard-throwing right-hander allowing four earned runs and eight hits in 13 innings, striking out 23 but walking 11 against Milwaukee, San Diego and Atlanta.