Clayton Kershaw out-pitched Tyler Glasnow for the second time in six days, and Dave Roberts’ confidence in rookie relievers paid off in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Rays in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night in Texas.
The Dodgers, one day after suffering a crushing walk-off loss, now lead the Fall Classic three games to two, just one win away from their first championship in 32 years.
Kershaw wasn’t as sharp as he was in Game 1, but he did enough to get into the sixth inning, allowing only two runs. After getting 19 whiffs on 38 swings on Tuesday, Kershaw in Game 5 induced 41 swings and 11 misses.
The second time through the order brought the trouble, with Yandy Diaz tripling home a run on a ball that skipped past Mookie Betts in right field, then scoring on a single by Randy Arozarena. That was followed by consecutive walks to open the fourth inning by Kershaw.
It could have been worse.
Manuel Margot took the first of those walks, then stole second and advanced to third base with nobody out, on Chris Taylor’s second missed catch in as many days. But like Icaros flying too close to the sun, Margot with two outs tried to catch Kershaw off guard with a straight steal of home, but Kershaw threw him out.
After escaping that jam, Kershaw recorded his first clean inning of the night in the fifth, including strikeouts of Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino. Kershaw struck out six on the night, giving him 207 career postseason strikeouts, surpassing Justin Verlander (205) for the most in MLB history.
“It just means I’ve been on great teams that got to the postseason a lot, and I got to get a lot of starts,” Kershaw said. “It’s just a special thing to get to be a part of a team like this, and to get to be a part of some of those names.”
After those two walks to open the fourth inning, Kershaw retired his next seven, including two pitches on two outs to open the sixth, including a 105.4-mph rocket grounder that Justin Turner stabbed for an out.
With a two-run lead, nobody on base, and the right-handed Margot up, Dave Roberts brought the hook with Kershaw at 85 pitches. Roberts during his walk from and back to the dugout was serenaded with boos by a Dodgers-partisan crowd, but in between there was some discussion on the mound before Kershaw came out.
Justin Turner apparently not a fan of pulling Kershaw either pic.twitter.com/LKKHEgH9Wz— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) October 26, 2020
Kershaw was trying to talk his way into staying in, and with the infield all at the mound, Turner appeared to say, “He can get this motherf***ker.”
“Oh, it was Justin trying to lobby to keep him in the game,” a smiling Roberts said after the game. “You saw it right.”
The plan was articulated to Kershaw before the sixth inning began.
“This has been five years, and we’ve been through a lot together. I trust him, and I know he trusts me,” Roberts said. “I thought he pitched a heck of a game, and to go out there and get two more hitters, we felt that would be good enough.”
Dustin May was Roberts’ choice to get so and so, and he did, striking out Margot on seven pitches.
May retired five batters, pitching into the eighth, shaking off the rust of his last three outings, when he allowed six runs (five earned) in 4⅓ innings, allowing half of his batters faced to reach base. He allowed only a single, but that set up the most tense moment of the game.
Left-handed reliever Victor Gonzalez was brought in with one out, with Arozarena on deck. Rays manager Kevin Cash used two pinch hitters to set up the platoon advantage even before that, and Gonzalez walked Mike Brosseau, putting the tying run on base.
Gonzalez got Arozarena to fly out on one pitch, then the left-hander Brandon Lowe lined one to center, tracked down by Cody Bellinger, whose back was deemed 100 percent healthy earlier in the day after not playing the field in Game 4.
Blake Treinen, working on his third straight night, worked around a leadoff single to get the final three outs for his first save this postseason. This ninth inning was much less eventful than Saturday.
“We stuck with the plan, so credit to Doc on that one,” Kershaw said. “Then D. May came into the game and was awesome, Victor the same way, then to Blake. Unbelievable job by those guys tonight.”
Dodgers hitters made Tyler Glasnow work in this one, just as they did on Tuesday. Mookie Betts doubled on the eighth pitch of the first at-bat of the game, then scored on a single by the scorching-hot Corey Seager, who advanced on two wild pitches from Glasnow and scored on an infield single by Cody Bellinger.
Joc Pederson added a solo home run in the second inning, his second this postseason.
“He throws the ball really hard. I was just looking honestly to put the ball in play,” Pederson said. “He got me in Game 1, so it was nice to be able to return the favor.”
Glasnow set a World Series record with three wild pitches on the night, and also walked three in five innings, giving him nine walks in 9⅓ innings in the series. He was able to settle down after the early wildness, retiring eight straight until Max Muncy tattooed a ball 434 feet in the fifth, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.
DROP YOUR BAT ON 'EM, MAX. pic.twitter.com/Lg5OduFayQ— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 26, 2020
- Kershaw’s postseason has been fantastic (I hesitate to say “was” since it’s certainly possible he’s available in relief in Game 7, if necessary, like in 2017, for instance), going 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA, 37 strikeouts and five walks in 30⅔ innings.
- That includes two Kershaw wins in the same postseason series for the first time in his career.
- Seager’s 19 RBI this postseason are tied for the second-most in any postseason, behind only David Freese (21 RBI) in 2011 with St. Louis.
- Arozarena’s single in the third inning was his 27th this postseason, setting a major league record for a single postseason.
Game 5 particulars
Home runs: Joc Pederson (2), Max Muncy (3)
WP — Clayton Kershaw (4-1): 5⅔ IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP — Tyler Glasnow (2-3): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Sv — Blake Treinen (1): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
After an off day, the Dodgers will get their first chance to close out a championship in Game 6 on Tuesday (5:08 p.m. PT). Blake Snell will start for the Rays. The Dodgers will start Tony Gonsolin, with both pitchers lined up on five days rest.