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The Sports Report: Dodgers lose Game 2 to Rays

Brandon Lowe celebrates his home run against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series.
Brandon Lowe celebrates his home run against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers were brewing a familiar formula, one they’ve regularly used to win games since late July, in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

They had chased Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell before the end of the fifth inning. Their pitching, while unconventionally deployed and choppy through the middle innings, had kept them within striking distance. The final step was having their unrivaled offense feast on relievers in the late innings to steal a win.

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But the Rays are not like any of the previous teams the Dodgers have faced in 2020. The Rays are run-prevention specialists boasting the deepest, most versatile bullpen in the majors. They entered the night 34-0 when leading after the seventh inning in 2020. The bullpen has been immune to collapses.

The Dodgers threatened to spoil that perfect streak Wednesday, but the Rays’ relief corps didn’t fold in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss at Globe Life Field. The result evened the series at one. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday at 5:08 p.m. PDT.

“You got to give credit to those guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They kept going and scratching and clawing but so did we.”

The Rays, a low-budget operation that has defied its financial shortcomings by relentlessly challenging conventional baseball thought, were the first club to regularly use openers instead of a prototypical starting pitcher. It began as an experiment in May 2018 -- not because it was considered an ideal approach but because they lacked enough effective starters. The best pitchers are the ones that throw the most innings – the conventional starting pitcher -- and failed starters become relievers.

So it’s no surprise that Game 2 featured an opener in a bullpen game. The surprise was that the Dodgers, the club with the second-highest payroll in the majors and five seemingly capable starters, opted for the strategy out of necessity.

The Rays rode Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner, into the fifth inning when his no-hitter became an abrupt exit. The Dodgers, meanwhile, didn’t have a starter on regular rest for their ninth game in 10 days and tried piecing nine innings together. They had seven pitchers log between one and two innings, including two rookie starters who were asked to pitch out of their comfort zones again.

Tony Gonsolin made his second postseason start Wednesday, but he was on just two days’ rest. The Dodgers’ pitching plan didn’t include him logging more than two innings. He was an opener to a bullpen game.

————

Bill Plaschke: Dodgers’ Game 2 loss looked eerily similar to past World Series failures

Dylan Hernández: Why are Dodgers in control of World Series? Star starters didn’t pitch Game 2

Rays relievers are all about prevention

Photos: Dodgers vs. Rays in Game 2 of the World Series

Young Dodger pitchers set up to fail in ‘out-getter’ role

Home away from home? Dodgers fans outnumber Rays fans at World Series

Dylan Floro goes from forgotten to integral Dodgers’ bullpen piece

Dodgers-Rays schedule

All times Pacific

Dodgers are home team for Game 1, 2, 6 and 7

All games at Arlington, Texas

Game 1: Dodgers 8, Tampa Bay 3

Game 2: Tampa Bay 6, Dodgers 4

Game 3: Friday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler) vs. Tampa Bay (Charlie Morton), 5 p.m., Fox

Game 4: Saturday, Dodgers (Julio Urías**) vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 5: Sunday, Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw**) vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 6*: Tuesday, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 7*: Wed., Oct. 28, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

*-if necessary

**-left-handed

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CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Tyronn Lue sat on the first floor of the Clippers’ practice facility Wednesday for his introductory news conference as the team’s new coach. Because it was 2020, he looked not into a crowd of cameras but a screen.

His boss, Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations, joined the videoconference from his office, one floor higher. His boss, owner Steve Ballmer, popped into the call from his house in the state of Washington.

Separated physically, the Clippers’ leadership spent the next half hour explaining why they feel united in their approach to mine success in 2021 from the disappointment of 2020. Losing in the second round of the postseason, despite holding a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets, led to the ouster of Doc Rivers — Lue’s mentor and close friend — as coach after seven seasons.

“We had to get the best of the best, and the best of the best is Ty Lue,” Ballmer said.

Here are 10 noteworthy moments from Lue’s introduction:

1. Lue has never shied away from crediting Rivers as the biggest influence for why he entered coaching, and he called Rivers’ dismissal “tough.” But he also described the ways in which he is not a Rivers clone on the sideline, emphasizing that his style has been influenced by Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy and Scott Skiles, among others.

Tactically, where Rivers’ offenses often relied on individual playmakers more than set plays, Lue is expected to run a more controlled offense that will hinge on speed and moving the ball.

“I learned a lot from Doc, but I’ve also learned a lot from a lot of other coaches around the league because I’m always studying, I’m always trying to get better,” Lue said. “I want to be better. So, not just learning from Doc, but I learned from other coaches like [Erik Spoelstra] and Brad Stevens and watching Nick Nurse last year, thinking outside the box of playing box-and-one and triangle-and-two [defenses] and bringing something new to the NBA. And if you stop learning, if you stop being willing to learn from other people then you won’t be successful.”

To read the rest, click here.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

No games scheduled.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1933 — Primo Carnera retains the world heavyweight title with a 15-round decision over Paolino Uzcudun in Rome.

1950 — The Los Angeles Rams beat the Baltimore Colts 70-27.

1961 — Erich Barnes of the New York Giants ties an NFL record by returning an interception 102 yards for a touchdown in a 17-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

1975 — The 10-team World Football League, citing lack of television and season ticket support, disbands before the 12th week of a 20-week season.

1994 — Alcorn State’s Steve McNair becomes the NCAA’s career yardage leader with 15,049, surpassing the old mark set by Brigham Young’s Ty Detmer, who had 14,665. McNair’s 649 yards also breaks his own Division I-AA single-game record as he leads the Braves to a 41-37 win over Southern.

2000 — Bengals running back Corey Dillon rushes for an NFL single-game record 278 yards in a 31-21 victory over the Denver Broncos.

2001 — New York routs Seattle 12-3 in Game 5 to win the AL pennant for the 38th time. The Yankees become the first team since their predecessors in 1960-64 to win four straight pennants.

2005 — Mount Union drops a regular-season game for the first time since 1994, losing 21-14 to Ohio Northern in a Division III matchup. The Purple Raiders, winners of 110 straight regular-season games, had not lost an Ohio Athletic Conference or regular-season game since they were beaten 23-10 by Baldwin-Wallace on Oct. 15, 1994.

2006 — Roger Federer wins his first Madrid Masters and 10th title of the season with a three-set victory over Fernando Gonzalez. Federer is the first player in the Open era to win 10 titles in three straight years.

2011 — Keith Nichol catches a 44-yard pass from Kirk Cousins on the game’s final play for a tiebreaking touchdown, giving the 15th-ranked Spartans a 37-31 victory against No. 4 Wisconsin.

2011 — Mike Green has two goals and two assists, Matthieu Perreault adds two goals, and the Washington Capitals rout the Detroit Red Wings 7-1 in a matchup of the NHL’s last remaining unbeaten teams. It’s only the second time in NHL history that two teams with records of at least 5-0 face off.

2012 — Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life by cycling’s governing body following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accuses him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.

2014 — Serena Williams is routed 6-0, 6-2 by Simona Halep in the WTA Finals round-robin, one of the most one-sided losses in the 18-time Grand Slam champion’s career. The last time Williams managed to win just two games in a WTA Tour or Grand Slam match was in 1998 when she was 16.

2016 — Joe Williams rushes for a school-record 332 yards and four touchdowns in his second game back from retirement, and Utah holds off pass-happy UCLA 52-45. Williams, a senior who quit football last month before returning last week, breaks off TD runs of 3, 43, 64 and 55 yards in the most prolific rushing performance ever by a UCLA opponent.

2016 — Leonard Fournette breaks LSU’s single-game rushing record on just his first eight carries as the No. 25 Tigers beat No. 23 Mississippi 38-21. Fournette finishes with 284 yards rushing in his first action since aggravating a left ankle injury on Sept. 24. He averages 17.8 yards on 16 carries and his touchdowns go for 78, 76 and 59 yards.

And finally

Dodgers-Rays Game 2 highlights. Watch them here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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