Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts lead a dominant Dodgers win to open the World Series
The reasons for the Dodgers’ cool, unfiltered confidence this October, the reasons they believe this is finally the year they’ll hoist that piece of metal, were on display in their 8-3 victory in Game 1 of the World Series at Globe Life Field on Tuesday.
Want dominant pitching? Clayton Kershaw held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run and two hits over six tidy innings. What about a power display? Cody Bellinger, sore shoulder and all, cracked a home run for the Series’ first two runs. Think dynamic baserunning is important? Mookie Betts, the Dodgers’ new table-setting weapon, wreaked havoc on the basepaths to ignite a four-run fifth inning before slugging his first home run off a left-hander as a Dodger the next inning.
The Dodgers blended those elements to take 1-0 series lead, three wins away from their first title since 1988, on the 32nd anniversary of the day that last championship was clinched. Game 2 is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. PDT on Wednesday.
“I think we are the best team,” Kershaw said. “And I think our clubhouse believes that.”
This is the 116th World Series in major league history and the first at a neutral site. It was technically a home game for the Dodgers, who finished with the best regular-season record in baseball. Their team-produced graphics and videos were shown throughout the night. The PA announcer applied a homey touch. Vin Scully baptized the unprecedented event with the words said before every game at Dodger Stadium.
Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts were unstoppable in Game 1 of the World Series, showing how the Dodgers and Rays aren’t on the same level.
“It’s time for Dodger baseball,” declared the legendary broadcaster.
Scully delivered the message in a prerecorded video 70 years after he, at 23, became the youngest broadcast to call a World Series game then and since. It was shown on the big screen overlooking right field. The pro-Dodgers crowd of 11,388, spaced out throughout the ballpark, roared. They were given a reason to cheer again in the fourth inning.
Bellinger’s go-ahead home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series was the biggest moment of his career. The celebration, however, hurt. Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder when he violently banged right forearms with Kiké Hernández, generating uncertainty on an otherwise joyous night.
But Bellinger has dealt with the injury a few times. He knew what was ahead: pain the next day before it got better. The shoulder remained sore Tuesday, but his status was never in question.
Highlights from the Dodgers’ 8-3 win over the Rays in Game 1 of the World Series.
Any doubt was erased when he clobbered a 98-mph, first-pitch fastball from Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow. The ball landed in the Dodgers’ bullpen beyond the wall in right-center field. After one home run in his first 44 career World Series at-bats, he had one in his second Tuesday.
He wasn’t going to spoil it with another overzealous episode. He had learned better. Before the game, he decided he would tap feet with teammates instead. Bellinger went down the line. Tap, tap, tap. His right foot stayed intact and the Dodgers led 2-0.
“I think I’ll continue to do that,” Bellinger said. “Maybe my whole career. Who knows?”
The Dodgers’ next scoring splurge happened on the legs and smarts of their superstar leadoff man. This is the Dodgers’ third trip to the doorstop of a championship in four years. But they have Betts for the first time. As Betts goes, the Dodgers go. And Betts went off in the fifth inning.
Clayton Kershaw has waited a long time for October glory, and his World Series Game 1 performance for the Dodgers was worthy of a championship.
Betts worked a leadoff walk. Then he stole second base to gift the country free tacos from a national chain. After Corey Seager walked for the third time in three at-bats, Betts took the lead on a well-executed double steal. With that, he became the second player ever with two steals and a walk in the same inning of a World Series game, joining Babe Ruth.
Suddenly, the Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out for the middle of their lineup. Betts’ next decision was masterful. Knowing that the third baseman was not holding him on, Betts lengthened his secondary lead. It proved to be the difference when Max Muncy hit a ground ball to first with the infield in. Betts dashed home on contact and just beat Yandy Díaz’s throw with a headfirst slide, adding to his long playoff highlight reel.
“He’s done just about everything,” Bellinger said.
The Dodgers were extremely cautious with Julio Urías for years because of injuries and his youth. Then he threw more than 150 pitches in five days of the NLCS.
Los Angeles went on to score three more runs in the inning. They chased Glasnow after he threw a career-high 112 pitches in 41/3 innings and became the first pitcher to issue six walks and give up six runs in a World Series game.
That was more than enough for Kershaw. The left-hander, making his fifth World Series start, wasn’t sharp in the first inning, but he got on track after escaping a two-on, one-out jam.
Kershaw threw eight sliders in the first. They induced two swings and no misses. But the pitch flummoxed the Rays from there into the fifth inning. He threw 18 over the stretch. The Rays swung at 13 and missed nine times. Six of the whiffs concluded strikeouts.
“I was bouncing my slider like 48 feet and didn’t quite make the adjustment until the second inning,” Kershaw said.
The sixth whiff came when Willy Adames became Kershaw’s 200th career postseason strikeout, moving him to second on the all-time list. Adames was the 13th straight batter Kershaw retired. Then Kevin Kiermaier clubbed a slider over the middle for a solo home run. The run was over, but Kershaw stayed on track.
Photos from Game 1 of the World Series between the Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
He went 36 minutes between the pitches in the fifth and sixth innings. The long break didn’t trouble him as the Dodgers turned a 2-1 lead into 6-1. He stayed loose and retired the side in order to complete the sixth inning with eight strikeouts and just 78 pitches.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, thinking ahead to Kershaw’s possible Game 5 start on four days’ rest, pulled him despite the low pitch count. The decision quickly prompted a scare. The Rays scored two runs in the seventh off Dylan Floro, Kershaw’s replacement, and Victor González. They were pressing for more with runners at first and second, but Mike Zunino smashed a 105.6-mph line drive right at González, who snatched it and threw to second base for an inning-ending double play.
That was Tampa Bay’s final threat of the night. The Dodgers calmly recovered with two clean innings, moving one step closer to the championship they believe no other team can stop them from taking.
“As a collective group,” Kershaw said, “if everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and playing the way they’re supposed to, I don’t see how that can happen.”
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