It was a tale of two Blakes on Wednesday, as Snell held the Dodgers hitless through 4-2/3 innings, yet gave up a pair of runs two outs into the fifth. Whatever the case, the Tampa Bay Rays did just enough to defeat Los Angeles, 6-4, and tie the series up at one game apiece.
Blake Snell got the start on 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%).
Meanwhile, the Rays got on the board in the first inning against Tony Gonsolin, and it was all thanks to Brandon Lowe.
Lowe entered the game 6-56 (.107 BA) in the postseason with a pair of homers, although he had hit safely in three of his last four games. At any rate, Lowe worked a 3-1 count, then drilled a fastball to left-center for his first homer in the World Series, opening the scoring. It stayed that way until the fourth inning.
With Victor Gonzalez on the bump, Randy Arozarena walked with one out before Ji-Man Choi grounded into the shift. Yet Hernández bobbled the play and could only get the out at second. Dustin May came on in relief, and Manuel Margot ground a single the right side against the shift.
Joey Wendle did what he is wont to do: line a hard hit ball to the right-center gap for a two-run double, extending the lead to three runs.
Then an inning later, Austin Meadows singled to right off May before Lowe hit his second homer of the night, a line-drive shot off the top off the wall for a 5-0 lead.
Tampa Bay tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning after Choi and Margot singled to put runners at the corners. Wendle came up with his third RBI of the night when he hit a line drive sacrifice fly to left field.
Yet the Dodgers answered in the bottom of the frame when Will Smith homered off Nick Anderson, who got the final out of the fifth in relief of Snell, cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to three runs.
Pete Fairbanks followed Anderson with an incredibly efficient six-pitch seventh. But, he also gave up a run an inning later when Corey Seager homered to center. Things also appeared like they could unravel at any moment with Justin Turner at the plate. Turner looped a double into right-center that Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot came together on. Kiermaier looked like he could have made a sliding catch, yet the ball fell into play and rolled toward the wall. Still, after Max Muncy flied out to right, Smith hit a laser to third that Wendle caught on a line. Wendle is a pro at that by now!
Aaron Loup entered in relief of Fairbanks to face Cody Bellinger with two outs and caught the left-handed-hitting looking at a 95 mph fastball over the plate.
Finally, Loup retired the first two batters in the ninth before Diego Castillo took over to face the right-handed-hitting Taylor, who went down swinging on a check-swing strikeout to end the ball game. Rays pitchers punched out 15 Dodgers hitters.
After an off-day on Thursday, Charlie Morton will pitch opposite of Walker Buehler in the third game of the 2020 World Series.