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Dodgers 2020 memorable moments: A lot of Betts and a huge October payoff

The Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6 of the World Series to win their first championship since 1988.

This will be remembered as the year the Dodgers finally broke through and won the World Series. But 2020 had much more than the end of a 32-year championship drought.

It started with anger and a franchise-changing trade. The Dodgers protested racial injustice and police brutality —at first individually and then as a team. They resided in Texas — 1,400 miles away — for nearly a month to reach the finish line amid a global pandemic. And right at the end, with six outs to go, the undertaking nearly blew up. A national controversy followed.

The year featured a little bit of everything for the Dodgers. Here are 10 prominent moments from a memorable 2020.

JAN. 25: FANFEST BECOMES VENTFEST

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FanFest in January was the first chance for the Dodgers to publicly comment on the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal as a group. They didn’t hold back. Players took turns blasting the Astros for their trash can banging scheme and unconvincing apologies. “They cheated,” Dodgers utility player Kiké Hernández said.

FEBRUARY 11: DODGERS ACQUIRE MOOKIE BETTS

David Price and Mookie Betts, in Dodgers jerseys, hold microphones.
Dodgers pitcher David Price, left, and right fielder Mookie Betts smile during their introductory news conference at Dodger Stadium on Feb. 12.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers set a franchise record with 106 wins in 2019 but were bounced in the National League Division Series. Striving to upgrade the roster, they missed out on free agents before the Boston Red Sox traded perennial All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts to them for outfielder Alex Verdugo and two promising minor leaguers because they were convinced Betts wouldn’t re-sign after the 2020 season. It was a season-changing gift.

JULY 4: DAVID PRICE OPTS OUT

Veteran left-handed pitcher David Price was the other player the Dodgers received from the Red Sox. He was slated to slot in the starting rotation behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Instead, citing his and his family’s health amid the coronavirus pandemic, Price chose not to participate in the 2020 season. Price announced his decision on the Dodgers’ second day of summer camp workouts.

JULY 23: MOOKIE KNEELS

The 2020 season, against steep odds, began the season against the San Francisco Giants inside an empty Dodger Stadium the day after Betts signed a 12-year, $365-million contract extension. Betts scored the Dodgers’ first run of the season, but his decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice before the game drew the most attention. Teammates Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy each put a hand on Betts’ shoulders while he kneeled.

JULY 29: FIREWORKS IN HOUSTON

On the field, Joe Kelly looks over his shoulder and says something to Astros' Carlos Correa.
Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, left, exchanges words with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on July 29.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

The Dodgers and Astros weren’t slated to play during the regular season before the pandemic, but the truncated 60-game schedule included five meetings. It took six innings for tension to boil over. Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly, who wasn’t even a member of the 2017 team, intentionally threw at Alex Bregman. Minutes later, Carlos Correa assumed Kelly was throwing at him. Correa struck out and a shouting match ensued. Kelly made a face that became an internet meme, benches cleared and the Dodgers went on to win.

AUG. 26: DODGERS PROTEST GAME

Days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., Betts decided he would join athletes across other sports in protest and not play against the Giants. His teammates followed suit and the Giants agreed not to play that night. The Dodgers swept a seven-inning doubleheader the next day.

SEPT. 22: ANOTHER NL WEST TITLE

The Dodgers clinched their eighth straight division title with a 7-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The lack of fans helped produce a subdued celebration. The upstart San Diego Padres made the race more interesting than anticipated, but the Dodgers finished six games ahead with the best record in the majors and the highest win percentage in the majors since 1954.

OCT. 18: BELLINGER’S HOMER SENDS DODGERS TO WORLD SERIES

The Dodgers needed to win three games in three days to avoid elimination after falling behind 3-1 in the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. They didn’t lead in Game 7 until Cody Bellinger clubbed a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning. Julio Urías shut the door and the Dodgers advanced to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

OCT. 27: URÍAS CLOSES OUT WORLD SERIES

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias, center, celebrates with Cody Bellinger, left, and Joe Kelly.
Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias, center, celebrates with Cody Bellinger, left, and Joe Kelly following the team’s World Series title win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 27.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Julio Urías, not Kenley Jansen, was given the ball in the ninth inning with a chance to win the World Series in Game 6. The Mexican left-hander finished his 2 1/3 perfect innings by striking out Willy Adames looking with a fastball to deliver the Dodgers’ first championship since 1988. Corey Seager, the NLCS MVP, was named World Series MVP.

OCT. 27: TURNER EMERGES AFTER POSITIVE CORNAVIRUS TEST

The spotlight instantly shifted away from the Dodgers’ breakthrough minutes after the final out when Justin Turner emerged to join the team’s celebration on the field. Major League Baseball removed Turner from the game in the eighth inning after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Turner’s decision — and nobody’s willingness to stop him — launched a national controversy. The next morning, MLB released a statement criticizing Turner. Nine days later, the league backpedaled as Turner apologized and Dodgers President Stan Kasten called “the events . . . regrettable” in separate statements.

A joint statement from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Dodgers infielder Justin Turner and Dodgers President Stan Kasten spreads the blame for Turner’s actions.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

AUG. 13: Mookie Betts slugs three home runs vs. Padres

AUG. 20: Clayton Kershaw passes Don Drysdale on Dodgers’ all-time strikeout list

OCT. 7: Cody Bellinger robs Fernando Tatis Jr. of a home run in Game 2 of the NLDS

OCT. 16: Will Smith belts go-ahead home run off Will Smith in Game 5 of NLCS

OCT. 16-18: Mookie Betts makes game-changing defensive plays in three straight NLCS wins


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