Tuesday night showed why Clayton Kershaw is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and why he will have a plaque in Cooperstown one day. It also showed every bit of reason why the Dodgers signed Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension. In an almost-perfect evening, the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to an 8-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the World Series.
Kershaw’s final line was six innings pitched, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while striking out eight. He ran into traffic early after allowing a leadoff hit and a walk in the first inning. After the first, though, he only allowed one hit—a home run in the fifth inning to Rays’ center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Cody Bellinger got the scoring started for Los Angeles in the fourth inning with a two-run home run off Rays’ starter Tyler Glasnow. Bellinger looked more than fine on that swing after hurting his shoulder in Game 7 of the NLCS celebrating his game-winning homer.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Dodgers scored four runs. Betts led off with a walk and then cemented himself as America’s hero stealing second base and providing fans with free Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell. Betts then stole third in a double steal, with Corey Seager stealing second right behind him. It was the first time since 1912 that a team had stolen three bases in one inning. Betts then scored off a Max Muncy fielder’s choice in which he raced home and slid safely under the tag. Consequently, Will Smith and Chris Taylor ripped RBI singles, with pinch-hitter Kike Hernadez adding another to make it 6-1 at that point.
The Mookie Betts show continued in the bottom of the sixth when he hit his first home run of the postseason off Rays’ left-handed reliever Josh Fleming. Justin Turner then just missed a home run in the next AB, hitting the ball right off the top of the wall in center field for a double. Muncy then followed with an RBI double of his own to make it 8-1.
Right-hander Dylan Floro relieved Kershaw in the seventh and ran into trouble. Floro ended up being tagged for two runs. Left-hander Victor Gonzalez then relieved Floro, allowing two hits, but got out of the inning off an iconic double play. Gonzalez caught a scorching liner off the bat of Rays’ catcher Mike Zunino and threw to second base for the double play.
After Kershaw got out of the first inning without giving up a run, he cruised the whole way through the sixth, which was big for the Dodgers. Timely, situational hitting, followed by the hustling plays of Betts, showed why this Dodger team has been the favorite to win it all since the early days of the regular season.
After tonight, however, the job isn’t finished, as they still have three more wins to go.
The Dodgers will face the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell in Game 2. The left-handed pitcher has posted a 3.20 ERA over four starts this postseason.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts announced late Tuesday night that Tony Gonsolin will start Game 2, having previously noting that it will be a bullpen type of game. Dustin May and Julio Urias will also be available in relief.
First pitch for Wednesday’s Game 2 is slated for 5:08 p.m. Pacific time.