After one last off-day, the Tampa Bay Rays look to even the series at three games apiece and force one last ball game, when they face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, in Arlington. The Dodgers have a three-games-to-two advantage over the Rays in the 2020 World Series.
While Tyler Glasnow proved ineffective in his Sunday night start against the Dodgers — thus solidifying his position as the hard-hit% king of the postseason — the rest of Tampa Bay’s pitching staff kept Los Angeles in check across four scoreless frames on Sunday. Put another way, Diego Castillo, Aaron Loup, Ryan Sherriff, and Ryan Thompson proved that the Dodgers can be pitched to. And instead of trying to throw the nastiest pitches possible, resulting in whiffy K after whiffy K, the above mentioned four-headed beast forced contact and allowed the fielders behind them to gobble up balls put in play. Blake Snell, who will get the start on Tuesday, would be well served to take after the latter named four hurlers as opposed to Glasnow.
While the Rays might be down, they certainly are not out. Bear in mind one simple fact: neither Tampa Bay nor Los Angeles has strung together two consecutive wins in the 2020 World Series. The Rays have already proved they can get to Tony Gonsolin, and if they can win Tuesday night, they can force a game seven and push things back into coinflip territory.
Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) put things in perspective, writing,
It would be a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering the opponent. Los Angeles has led for all but the final play of game four for 27 consecutive innings. They’ve hit multiple homers in eight straight playoff games, scored at least four runs in every game of the World Series, and have gone a combined 55–22 between the regular season and postseason. All while being the top scoring team and run prevention team this year in MLB.
Of any team that could beat that Dodgers club two games in a row, it would be the Rays. Think about what they’ve done this year:
- Had the best record in the American League (40–20), something that only previously happened in 2010.
- Won not one but two winner-take-all playoff games, not including wildcard games, something they had done just once in all previous seasons combined.
- Beat the Yankees in their first-ever playoff series against them.
- Avenged last year’s loss in the ALDS to Houston by beating the Astros to advance to the World Series.
- Won more World Series games than any previous Tampa Bay team.
- Set an MLB record for HR in the postseason.
- Had their third ever walk-off victory in the playoffs, and it came in a historic game four of the World Series.
Plus Randy Arozarena has had arguably the best postseason in the history of the game.
The hope is that two great chapters remain in this story, but it’s important to appreciate that, in the most trying of years, this already has been the most successful season the franchise has had.
Note: I will update this piece when the pre-game notes and the starting lineup are made available.
The New What Next
Blake Snell got the start last Wednesday and looked great through the first 4-2/3 innings, holding the Dodgers hitless while striking out nine and walking two — including a perfect 10-pitch first inning. At one point he retired 10 straight batters, six via the strikeout. Yet, the left-hander’s demeanor changed after he walked Kiké Hernández on five pitches two outs in the fifth. Then four pitches later, Snell grooved a 77 mph over the inner third of the plate to Chris Taylor, who inside outed the ball and sent it to right-field for a two-run homer. Six pitches later his night was done after he walked Mookie Betts. Snell looked great until he didn’t, throwing 88 pitches (49 strikes, 56% strike rate) while coaxing 14 swinging strikes (27% SwStr%).
Tony Gonsolin allowed one run on a solo homer to Brandon Lowe and also issued a walk while serving as an opener in game two of the World Series. He struck out one. The 26-year-old threw 16 of his 29 pitches for strikes (55% strike rate) and recorded a first-pitch strike on four of the six batters he faced. The right-hander has now allowed eight earned runs in 7-2/3 postseason innings. He hasn’t had much success in that span, posting a 9.39 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP while walking 19.4% of opposing batters.
You can read about the series in our preview, and I’ll post the starting lineup and Noteworthiness upon availability.
Rays 10/27/20 Starting Lineup