Tyler Glasnow needed to put together an elite performance on Sunday, yet the right-hander was pulled after four runs and five innings. And while the Tampa Bay Rays put together good at-bats against Clayton Kershaw, they couldn’t catch up to the Dodgers, who took a first-inning lead and never looked back. When all was said and done, Kershaw and the ‘pen led the Dodgers to a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay in the fifth game of the 2020 World Series.
One shouldn’t question Glasnow’s stuff. Put simply, his fastball and curveball are elite. However, what could be questioned is his pitch selection and his perceived hesitation to lean on a third pitch, which he has been working on the last few offseasons. Those two things turned a decent outing into a frustrating one for Tampa Bay.
Mookie Betts kickstarted a first-inning rally with a double to left two batters into the game. Corey Seager followed by ripping an RBI single to right on a cement mixer left over the heart of the plate. It was the third straight game where Los Angeles took a first-inning lead.
Then in the second inning, Joc Pederson fell behind 1-2 before he drilled a 98.5 mph fastball for a 3-0 lead. Instead of trying to get Pederson to expand by throwing a curveball off the plate, Glasnow tried to overpower the outfielder on a high fastball. Unfortunately, the pitch wasn’t above the zone, and Pederson didn’t miss it.
Glasnow was able to bounce back and retire eight consecutive batters, while Tampa Bay got on the board against Kershaw in the third.
Kevin Kiermaier beat out a chopper to the first base side of the mound for an infield hit, before Yandy Diaz hit a one-out triple to right, eluding Betts to draw the Rays within two. Randy Arozarena followed with an RBI single to left to get the Rays within a run. It was Arozarena’s 27th postseason hit, setting a new Major League record.
Even though they had multiple opportunities to exact more damage — the Rays got the leadoff runner aboard in six of the nine innings — they ultimately went 1-7 wRISP and they, as Dave Wills would say, left a lot of chicken on the bone.
Glasnow retired the first two batters in the top half of the third inning, yet Muncy drilled a two-strike, center/center fastball to right-center, capping the scoring. It was the ninth home run allowed by Glasnow, a postseason record.
Tampa Bay had a chance to take the lead in the fourth inning. Manuel Margot walked, swiped second, and went to third when the responding throw went off Chris Taylor’s glove for an error. Then, after falling behind 0-2, Hunter Renfroe worked a free pass to put runners at the corners with no outs. However, Joey Wendle popped out to short and Willy Adames struck out. Margot tried to spark some offense with Kiermaier at the plate — he attempted to steal home and was thrown out by a hair. The play did not work, yet let’s be honest: given that Kiermaier has slashed .224 BA/.255 OBP/.490 SLG/.745 OPS with a 29% strikeout rate during the offseason, the odds were stacked against him to come up in the clutch. Margot tried to do what he instinctively thought Kiermaier couldn’t or wouldn’t — plate an important run and rattle Kershaw.
Escaping the jam enabled Kershaw to begin a stretch where he retired seven consecutive batters on just 21 pitches. For whatever reason, the left-hander was lifted in the sixth inning much to the chagrin of the Dodgers fans in attendance who booed Dave Roberts’ decision. Roberts called upon Dustin May.
Even though Tampa Bay tagged May in his previous outing, the Carrot Top-like hurler made quick work the next four batters. May did get into trouble after Kiermaier singled to left to open the eighth, yet pinch-hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo flew out to left. Kevin Cash called upon Ji-Man Choi to pinch hit for Yandy Diaz, but Roberts called on southpaw Victor Gonzalez. In so doing, Mike Brosseau hit for Choi instead. Kiermaier moved into second on a wild pitch while Brosseau reached on a free pass in a nine-pitch at-bat, bringing Arozarena to the plate. Yet RAAAAAAAANDY flew out to center, as did Brandon Lowe on the first pitch of his at-bat.
Meanwhile, Aaron Loup got two outs while Diego Castillo collected four before Ryan Sherriff hurled a perfect eighth inning, allowing Tampa Bay to hang around. Ryan Thompson worked around a walk in a scoreless ninth.
Finally, Blake Treinen got the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth — his third consecutive day of work. Margot singled to start the frame, however, Austin Meadows went down swinging, Wendle flew out to center, and Adames struck out to end the game.
After a previously scheduled off-day, Blake Snell will get the start in game six on Tuesday. It marks the third elimination game for Tampa Bay this postseason. The Rays have won the other two.