The Los Angeles Dodgers drew first blood Tuesday, as they defeated the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the 2020 World Series. With a 1-0 series lead, the Dodgers are now three wins away from what could be their seventh championship in franchise history.
Starting on the mound for Los Angeles was none other than four-time National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, while Tampa Bay elected to start Tyler Glasnow in the series opener.
Kershaw gave a dominant and memorable performance, pitching six innings and striking out eight batters. Kershaw only gave up one run, the result of a homer from Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
The scrutiny has been high on Kershaw coming into this series, as his career has been marred by countless postseason disappointments. A victory in this year’s fall classic has the potential to finally silence critics and bring an otherwise Hall of Fame career full circle.
“It’s great to get this series going with a win,” Kershaw said to FOX Sports 1′s Tom Verducci after the game. “Just for me personally it’s awesome. You get to pitch well and get a win in a World Series. Like I said, I’m just thankful for another opportunity.”
It was a scoreless affair for both sides until the bottom of the fourth inning when Dodgers superstar outfielder Cody Bellinger hit a two-run blast to right field to give the Dodgers a two-run lead.
The runner that was driven in by Bellinger’s home run was Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy who was on second base at the time the ball was hit. Muncy finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Bellinger’s homer quells fears of an injured shoulder he aggravated during a celebration in game seven of the National League Championship Series.
Bellinger, who is considered by many to be one of the best outfielders in all of baseball, has struggled all season, hitting .250 in the postseason and .239 in the regular season. Bellinger’s performance has paled in comparison with his NL MVP year in 2019 when his regular-season batting average was .333.
Coming off a clutch hit against Atlanta in the NLCS, Bellinger’s recent performance gives Dodgers fans hope that he is turning it around. Bellinger finished the night 1-for-4 and two RBIs.
Things further opened up for the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts stole second and third base and then was driven home by a single from Muncy.
Los Angeles then took absolute hold of the game. Dodgers catcher Will Smith hit a line drive to center field that drove in Los Angeles shortstop Corey Seager, which started a rally that made the score 8-1 by the end of the fifth inning.
Betts finished the game with two hits in four at-bats while driving in two runs, including a home run in the sixth. Smith had one hit in five at-bats. Seager, arguably the Dodgers hottest player this postseason, was 0-2 on the night.
“We did a great job of sticking to our plan,” Bellinger said after the game. “It was a great game overall. We gotta come in tomorrow and do the same thing over again … and play as a team.”
The Dodgers are set to play Game 2 of the World Series Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. PT.