The eighth time was the charm for the Dodgers, who finally reached their ultimate goal. They beat the Rays 3-1 in Game 6 on Thursday night, winning their first World Series in 32 years, simultaneously shedding the weight of coming up short so many times.
For years at Dodger Stadium, clips of Kirk Gibson’s home run and Orel Hershiser’s pitching brilliance have been played, a reminder of the glory of the past but also a grim reminder of how increasingly long it’s been. After Tuesday night, the weight of that burden is no more.
“We’ve heard it a lot. We’ve seen the highlights, and it’s fantastic,” manager Dave Roberts said on Monday. “But I think that we want to make our own mark on Dodgers history.”
They did just that on Tuesday night.
The Dodgers in Game 6 were absolutely dominated by Blake Snell, who was even better than his Game 2 outing. The left-hander struck out nine in the first four innings, and allowed only two singles the first two times through the order.
Snell did not get a third time through the lineup. By choice!
Inexplicably, at only 73 pitches with one out in the sixth inning, leading 1-0, Snell was pulled by Rays manager Kevin Cash, despite his left-hander striking out Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner six times in six at-bats on Tuesday.
Betts greeted reliever Nick Anderson with a double to put runners on second and third, and both runners were cashed in thanks to a wild pitch and a ground ball, giving the Dodgers a one-run lead.
In the eighth, Betts provided insurance with a home run against Pete Fairbanks. Both of Betts’ home runs this postseason came in the World Series.
Tony Gonsolin allowed only one run, a home run to Randy Arozarena in the first inning, but also allowed two other hits and two walks among his 10 batters faced. This wasn’t an opener situation, Roberts just had a quick hook.
After walking Ji-Man Choi with two outs in the second inning, Gonsolin wasn’t allowed to face Arozarena again. Dylan Floro was brought in for that purpose, and struck him out three changeups, usually more of a weapon for Floro against left-handers, but only threw the pitch 6.6 percent of the time to righties during the regular season.
That started a cavalcade of effective relievers for the Dodgers, with Alex Wood looking his best all season with two perfect innings and three strikeouts. Pedro Baez and Brusdar Graterol each allowed a hit but recorded two outs, with Victor Gonzalez retiring all four batters he faced in between, with three strikeouts.
Dodgers pitchers struck out 16 batters on the night.
That set the stage for official series clincher Julio Urías, who got the final seven outs, lowering his postseason ERA to a number (1.17) almost as sparkling as the champagne the entire team is about to shower itself in.
Game 6 particulars
Home run: Mookie Betts (2); Randy Arozarena (10)
WP — Victor Gonzalez (1-0): 1⅓ IP, 3 strikeouts
LP — Nick Anderson (1-2): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 run
Sv — Julio Urías (1): 2⅓ IP, 4 strikeouts
Opening Day is Thursday, April 1, with the Dodgers beginning their 2021 season at Coors Field. No fooling.