Sunday night at Globe Life Field, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the World Series (LA 4, TB 2) and are now just one win away from their first championship since 1988. Los Angeles will try to capture the title in Game 6 on Tuesday.
Los Angeles jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Tyler Glasnow in Game 5 thanks to Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger run-scoring singles, and a Joc Pederson solo homer. The Rays answered with two runs in the third inning against Clayton Kershaw. Yandy Diaz had an RBI triple and Randy Arozarena an RBI single.
Tampa Bay was all set up to tie the game in the fourth. Manuel Margot worked a leadoff walk, then stole second and advanced to third when Chris Taylor was unable to handle the throw (not a good few days for Taylor's glove, huh?). Hunter Renfroe then worked a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2. Tampa had runners on the corners with no outs.
The rally was put on life support when Joey Wendle popped up and Willy Adames struck out. With Kevin Kiermaier at the plate, Margot broke from third and tried to steal home. Kershaw stepped off the mound, threw home, and Austin Barnes applied the tag. Margot was out to end the inning. Here's the play:
Steals of home are chaotic and Kershaw did a great job not balking there. He stepped off and threw home. Lots of times you'll see pitchers, even veterans like Kershaw, panic and fling the ball to the plate, and wind up balking the run in. Kershaw (and Barnes) had to be perfect there and they were.
Rays manager Kevin Cash confirmed Margot attempted to steal home on his own. It was not called from the dugout. Kershaw has a slow move because he brings his hands high above his head, plus he's a lefty and not looking at third base, and Margot was trying to take advantage. If you're going to try to steal home, that's when you do it. It just didn't work out.
"We try to let players be athletic, be the athletes they are," Cash told reporters, including Levi Weaver of The Athletic, following Game 5. "If Manny felt like he had a read on it one way or the other, it's hard for me to say yes or no (whether it was the right move)."
The Rays did not challenge the out at home and I'm surprised. It was a bang-bang play and Margot represented the tying run. Why not take a shot there and hope you get the call? Teams get two challenges in the postseason, after all. Tampa's video review people obviously felt there was conclusive enough evidence to uphold the out call.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, that was the first time a player attempted to steal home in the World Series since 2002, when Brad Fullmer took home on the front end of a double steal in Game 2. It's the first time a player was caught stealing home in the World Series since 1991, when Shane Mack was thrown out in Game 4.