When three of the best players in baseball deliver in grand fashion for the same team, the other club usually doesn’t have a chance.
That was the situation the Rays were in Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series at Global Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where the Dodgers waltzed to an 8-3 victory in front of 11,388.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night, and if Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger keep performing like they did in Game 1, the Rays will spend the rest of the World Series attempting to dig out of a very deep ditch.
Kershaw began the night with a 1-2 record and a hefty 5.40 ERA in five World Series outings (four starts) and then limited the Rays to a run and two hits, walking one and fanning eight in six innings. The run was a homer by Kevin Kiermaier in the fourth that halted a string of 13 straight outs registered by the veteran lefty.
Acquired from the Red Sox to help the Dodgers win their first World Series since 1988 and signed to a 12-year deal worth $365 million that begins next season, Betts homered, went 2-for-4, scored twice — once on a ground ball to a drawn-in infield — and swiped two bases in a four-run fifth inning. He is the first player to homer, steal two bases and score twice in a World Series game.
Bellinger, who dislocated his right shoulder in a home-run celebration on Sunday night, homered in the fourth.
The Rays rallied for two runs to cut the deficit to 8-3 in the seventh against Dylan Florio and Victor Gonzalez.
Betts opened the home fifth with a walk and stole second with Corey Seager at the plate. Seager followed with a walk and each runner swiped a bag as Justin Turner was striking out. With the infield in, Max Muncy hit a chopper to first baseman Yandy Diaz, who was moving toward second when he backhanded the ball. His off-balance throw home couldn’t get Betts, who scored with a headfirst slide to push the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Seager went to third and with runners at the corners. Will Smith’s soft single to center plated Seager to make it 4-1 and ended Rays starter Tyler Glasnow’s night.
Lefty Ryan Yarbrough was summoned to face Bellinger with runners at the corners and popped him up. But Yarbrough’s next pitch was hit for an RBI single by Chris Taylor that scored Muncy for a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Kiké Hernandez followed with a RBI single to make it 6-1.
Kershaw’s strikeout of Willy Adames for the second out in the fifth was the left-hander’s 200th in postseason games. That moved him into second place ahead of John Smoltz (199), who was in the Fox booth, and six back of all-time leader Justin Verlander (205). Kershaw notched 201 by fanning Mike Zunino to end the inning.
Judging by the two-run home run he hit in the fourth to fracture a scoreless game, Bellinger wasn’t lying when he told Dodgers manager Dave Roberts his right shoulder was fine after Sunday’s dislocation.
Muncy, one of four left-handed hitters in Roberts’ lineup against Glasnow, started the inning by drawing a walk. Following a Smith grounder to third that moved Muncy to second, Bellinger attacked a first-pitch fastball clocked at 98 mph over the right-center field wall for the game’s first two runs.