Tonight is the first World Series elimination game; Will Tampa Bay force a Game 7?

MLB/FOX graphic

Few people gave the Tampa Bay Rays a chance in this 2020 World Series against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. It was billed as a David versus Goliath, and if nothing else, Tampa has put up a good fight to get the series to a 2-to-2 tie. But the Dodgers pulled away in Game 5 with a win to make tonight’s game an elimination game. 

We all know that the Dodgers have not won a World Series with Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers have not won the World Series since 1988 in the Kirk Gibson series. Well, not so fast, the Tampa Bay Rays have never won a World Series, and this is a must-win game for the young Rays who have the third lowest payroll in baseball while the Dodgers have the second highest payroll. It is the Dodgers who are loaded with star players, and yet the Rays have won with rookie Randy Arozarena and a bunch of other guys who few know about. Sure, Brett Phillips stepped out of the shadows and made the most from his one at-bat to walk-off in the fourth game of the series. They could use Brandon Lowe, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Mike Zunino, Ji-Man Choi, and Willy Adames to step up in this game too.

But baseball is a team game, and you need more than one player to step up. Even Don Larsen needed his teammates in a perfect game as you need runs. Larsen got two runs in support. He needed Mickey Mantle‘s home run to break the scoreless tie. He needed seven fielders behind him, and Yogi Berra in front of him.

“Let’s keep taking care of our business,” Dodgers’ first baseman Max Muncy said. “The job’s not finished.”

Kershaw’s Dodgers have lost their last three postseason runs. The Nats knocked them out of the playoffs last year, and in the two years before that the Dodgers lost to the Red Sox and Astros in back-to-back World Series appearances. Tampa Bay sends 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who no-hit the Dodgers for 4 2/3 innings in his Game 2 start needs to turn in his best start of his life.

“It’s tough, because they’re going to make adjustments,” Snell said. “They’ve seen me, so they’re going to make adjustments to what they just saw. I know I’ll have to make adjustments to what I saw.”

Baseball is all about making adjustments, and that is what makes the long post-season series so intriguing. We will be watching to see what Snell can do, and the Dodgers who will face him. But Tony Gonsolin must pitch well to keep the Dodgers in this game. If Tampa cannot pull this off, it will be a quick start to the off-season.

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