As it turned out, the “bullpen by committee” tactic didn’t turn out to be as effective as the Dodgers had hoped in Game 2, as the Rays struck early on their way to a 6-4 victory, tying the series at one game apiece.
The Rays took control of the game in the first when second baseman Brandon Lowe drove a Tony Gonsolin four-seamer over the left field wall for an early 1-0 lead. Gonsolin lasted just 1-1/3 innings before skipper Dave Roberts opted to bring in righty Dylan Floro with one out in the second.
By the time Tampa Bay struck again in the fourth, the Dodgers had already inserted their fourth pitcher of the evening. Dustin May was the victim when third baseman Joey Wendle smacked a double to left that scored both Ji-Man Choi and Manuel Margot, extending the Rays’ lead to 3-0.
In the top of the fifth, after an Austin Meadows single, Lowe connected with a May curveball that left the yard, hitting off the top of the left field wall. At that point, the score was 5-0, and it appeared that the Rays were in complete control.
However, in the bottom half of the frame, Chris Taylor when deep to right-center field, plating Enrique Hernandez and cutting the Tampa Bay lead to three. Mookie Betts followed with a walk, and Corey Seager followed with a single, but the rally ended when Justin Turner was struck out by Nick Anderson, who replaced starter Blake Snell.
Still, it appeared that the Dodgers had a glimmer of hope.
Joe Kelly—the Dodgers’ fifth pitcher of the night—started out fresh in the sixth inning, but he got into trouble quickly after allowing back-to-back singles by Choi and Margot. Choi scored on a Wendle sacrifice fly, extending the Tampa Bay lead to four.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Will Smith—despite the Rays employing a four-man outfield—hit the ball over everyone’s heads and landed a solo homer in the left-center field stands, narrowing the Tampa lead back to three.
The Dodgers edged closer in the seventh when Seager logged his seventh homer of the postseason, a 425-foot shot to deep center off righty reliever Pete Fairbanks.
Snell seemed to be in control early, but manager Kevin Cash took no chances with his southpaw when Los Angeles threatened in the fifth. In all, Snell logged 4-2/3 innings, surrendering two earned runs on two hits and four walks while striking out nine.
Anderson was credited with the victory, and Gonsolin was tabbed with the loss. Righty Diego Castillo recorded the final out of the game to register the save.
By the end of the night, the Dodgers used a total of seven pitchers after employing five pitchers in Game 1. The Rays used five total pitchers in their Game 2 victory. They utilized just four in the opener.
Thursday is a scheduled day off before the series resumes with Game 3 on Friday, as Tampa Bay will shift to the role of the home team.
First pitch is slated for 8:08 p.m. Eastern time.