Behind the left arm of Clayton Kershaw and a potent offense led by Mookie Betts, the Los Angeles Dodgers toppled the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Kershaw delivered one of the best World Series performances of his career, striking out eight and allowing just one run over six innings. Using sharp command and a healthy dose of biting sliders, Kershaw at one point retired 13 straight Rays before he coughed up a solo home run to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in the fifth inning. It was his lone blemish.
The game had the makings of a pitchers’ duel between the Rays’ hard-throwing starter, Tyler Glasnow, 27, and Kershaw, 32. But Glasnow’s command sputtered — he walked six over four and one-third innings — and the Dodgers’ offense, which led the major leagues in runs during the regular season, was too much to hold down.
Despite their large disparity in payroll, the Dodgers and Rays are similar in that they both feature deep rosters, talented pitching staffs and stout defense. The biggest difference between them, though, was painfully obvious on Tuesday: hitting. Betts led the way with two stolen bases, two runs scored and two hits, including a home run.
Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ hero in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, smashed a two-run blast off Glasnow in the fourth inning.
The Dodgers piled on four more runs an inning later, not with powerful swings, but with strong at-bats and zippy base running.
Betts drew a walk off Glasnow, then flashed his speed as he stole second base. He then nabbed third base — as part of a double steal with Corey Seager, who also walked — and scored when he beat first baseman Yandy Diaz’s thrown home on a fielder’s choice. Singles by Will Smith, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez pushed the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1.
Betts put the game further out of reach with a solo blast, his first of the postseason, in the sixth inning.
With a large lead, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts lifted Kershaw and turned the game over to his bullpen. The Rays threatened with a pair of runs late in the game, but it was simply too much for their offense to overcome.
The teams return to action on Wednesday, with Blake Snell scheduled to start for the Rays and the Dodgers expected to feature a bullpen game.