The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays by an 8-3 score in Tuesday's Game 1 of the 2020 World Series. The Dodgers now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which will continue Wednesday at Arlington's Globe Life Field. Arguably the biggest story for the Dodgers in Game 1, even with their offensive outpouring, was the performance of left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw, who has had to deal with near-constant criticism about his postseason track record, delivered six innings of one-run ball. He struck out eight batters and allowed two hits and a walk. Kershaw generated 19 swinging strikes, including 11 on his slider and another five on his fastball. The dynamic seemed to shift for Kershaw after the first inning, as he didn't appear to have a feel for his slider. From the second inning on, however, he was in complete control.
Kershaw's dominance came with efficiency, yet manager Dave Roberts decided to pull him after 78 pitches. Presumably Roberts wanted Kershaw's night to end on a high note, and wanted to take advantage of an in-progress boat race. The Dodgers' bullpen scuffled a touch, but ultimately things worked out fine.
The World Series is the first round this postseason with built-in off days. As such, Kershaw figures to build upon this game come Game 5, should one be necessary.
Here are four other things to know about Game 1.
1. Bellinger launches scoring
Kershaw traded zeroes with Rays starter Tyler Glasnow until the bottom of the fourth inning. That's when Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger delivered a two-run shot. Take a look:
According to Statcast, Bellinger's ball left the bat at 108 mph and traveled at a 36-degree angle. Without interruption or interference, it would have covered about 378 feet. Bellinger entered the World Series with a postseason slash line of .250/.365/.545 with three homers and two other extra-base hits in 52 plate appearances.
The reigning NL MVP has been doing it with his glove in October, too. Bellinger came through with another highlight-reel grab, robbing Austin Meadows of extra bases in the ninth inning.
2. Betts has dynamic evening
Bellinger wasn't the only Dodgers outfielder to have a big night. Mookie Betts, acquired for games like this, showed off at the plate and on the basepaths.
Betts went 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk. He also stole two bases, including one that won America free tacos. (The Dodgers stole three bases that inning in total, making them the first team since 1912 to do that in a World Series.)
Betts even scored a run on a good read off the bat. He's the kind of player a smart franchise builds around; everyone knew that coming into Game 1, but it was nice for him to provide further validation.
3. Glasnow struggles
Compared to Kershaw, Glasnow had a rough night. He lasted 4 1/3 innings, permitting six runs on three hits and six walks. He did strike out eight batters, but it came on 112 pitches.
Tyler Glasnow threw 112 pitches over 4.1 innings tonight.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) October 21, 2020
That's the fewest innings pitched by any pitcher in an outing of 110+ pitches in any postseason game since pitches were first tracked in 1988.
Notably, Glasnow generated just three swinging strikes on his trademark curveball. Given that he threw 42 of them on the night, that's both unusual and troubling.
4. History favors Dodgers' title
What does it mean to go up 1-0 in a best-of-seven series? According to WhoWins.com, MLB teams that win Game 1 go on to win the series about 64 percent of the time. When those teams possessed home-field advantage, the way the Dodgers do (sort of, anyway), they've won the series 67 percent of the time. The odds, then, are firmly in Los Angeles' favor.