The controversial pitching change by Tampa Bay Rays manger Kevin Cash and a positive COVID-19 test for Los Angeles Dodgers’ second baseman Justin Turner may overshadow the Dodgers’ big moment. Photo courtesy of Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
With a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series championship since 1988.
Much of the story, however, was centered around a controversial pitching change by Rays manager Kevin Cash. In the sixth inning with one out, starting pitcher Blake Snell was dealing, giving up just two hits and striking out nine batters through the first 18 batters.
The tenth home run of the postseason for Randy Arozarena – an MLB record – in the first inning gave the Rays a 1-0 lead, which they held until the controversial pull.
Snell was not only cruising through the Dodgers’ stacked lineup, he was doing it efficiently, throwing just 73 pitches through 5.1 innings. Cash said after the game his logic for making the pull was because he did not want Snell to face the top of the Dodgers lineup a third time.
“The only motive was that the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any in the league,” Cash said, via ESPN insider Jeff Passan. “Personally, I felt Blake had done his job and then some. Mookie (Betts) coming around the third time. I totally value and respect the questions that come with it.”
In that sixth inning, Dodgers’ left fielder A.J. Pollock popped up, then Snell gave up a single to catcher Austin Barnes, and was pulled from the game.
"I just want the ball. I felt good. … I just believe in me. I believe in my stuff."
Blake Snell talked postgame about getting pulled in the 6th inning. pic.twitter.com/DHkunjV9GQ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 28, 2020
Cash brought in Nick Anderson, who had been struggling this postseason – giving up 15 hits and 8 earned runs in 15.1 innings of work. The struggles continued with a double by the next batter (Betts), and a wild pitch in the next at-bat to score Barnes from third and move Betts up to third, tying the game at 1.
Anderson got World Series MVP Corey Seager to hit a ground ball to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, but Betts’ speed down the third base line was too much, and the throw was too late as the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead. The Rays got out of the inning without any more runs allowed, but the damage was done.
As much as Cash will receive a lot of blame for this loss, the Rays bats went ice cold after the first two innings (twice had runners on first and second), getting just two hits and no walks in the last seven innings.
Betts added an insurance run on a solo home run in the eighth, and Julio Urias got the final seven outs to give the Dodgers their World Series triumph, ending in a Willy Adames strikeout looking.
However, the news wasn’t perfect for the Dodgers, as a substitution in the eighth inning was heavily questioned by Fox announcers Joe Buck and Joe Smoltz. This substitution was Kike Hernandez for Justin Turner at third base, with Turner testing positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the game.
The positive test did not backtrack the celebrations too much, as players and coaches were given masks to wear while celebrating the title. Turner did eventually go on to the field, celebrating with some of his teammates.
For Clayton Kershaw, who has been marred by postseason struggles, the future Hall of Famer finally has his first ring.
As mentioned earlier, Corey Seager won MVP, batting .400 with two home runs, four doubles, seven runs scored and five RBIs. Seager also won LCS MVP, and the award named after Willie Mays (WS) concludes an excellent postseason for Seager, who fell just behind Arozarena with eight home runs.
CAN'T STOP COREY.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 28, 2020
The championship finishes an astounding year (month, especially) for Los Angeles’ biggest teams, as the Dodgers follow the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA title, the first time a city has a baseball and basketball champion since 1988, the last time the Dodgers won.