A capsule look at the best-of-seven World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers in Arlington, Texas, beginning Tuesday night:
Season Series: Did not play.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Playoff Entry: AL East champions.
Playoff Seed: No. 1.
Manager: Kevin Cash (sixth season).
Projected Rotation: RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-1, 4.08 ERA, 91 Ks in 57 1/3 IP), LHP Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24, 63 Ks in 50 IP), RHP Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74, 42 Ks in 38 IP), LHP Ryan Yarbrough (1-4, 3.56).
Top Hitters: 2B Brandon Lowe (.269, 14 HRs, 37 RBIs, 36 runs, .916 OPS), LF Randy Arozarena (.281, 7, 11, 1.022 OPS in 23 games), SS Willy Adames (.259, 8, 23, .813 OPS).
Top Relievers: RHP Nick Anderson (2-1, 0.55 ERA, 6 saves), RHP Diego Castillo (3-0, 1.66, 4 saves), RHP Pete Fairbanks (6-3, 2.70).
Series Summary: It's the second American League pennant for the Rays, who began play as an expansion team in 1998. They lost the 2008 World Series to Philadelphia in five games. ... Tampa Bay opened a 3-0 lead in the ALCS against Houston, lost the next three games and then won 4-2 in Game 7 behind Morton, Arozarena and catcher Mike Zunino to avoid joining the 2004 New York Yankees (ALCS vs. Boston) as the only major league clubs to squander a 3-0 advantage in a best-of-seven postseason series. ... The Rays won the AL East this year for the first time since 2010 and third time overall. They won nine of their final 11 regular-season games, finishing 20 games over .500 and completing the best 60-game start to a season in franchise history. It also matched the best 60-game stretch the club has had at any point in a season. ... Tampa Bay swept two games from wild-card Toronto in the first round of the playoffs and edged the rival Yankees 2-1 in the deciding Game 5 of their Division Series on Mike Brosseau’s revenge-tinged homer off hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning. ... The thrifty and innovative Rays had a $29 million prorated payroll as of Aug. 1, which ranked 28th out of 30 teams. The big-budget Dodgers topped the majors at $96 million during this virus-shortened season, according to figures compiled by Major League Baseball. ... It's only the fourth time since 1995, when MLB realigned each league into three divisions, that the teams with the best record in each circuit are meeting in the World Series. ... Tampa Bay is one of six current franchises that's never won the Series. The others are Colorado, Milwaukee, Texas, San Diego and Seattle. ... Dodgers are 10-7 vs. the Rays in interleague play over the years. They split four meetings in 2019, with Kershaw pitching well in a win. Fairbanks had a loss and a save. ... Lowe slumped to .115 (6 for 52) with two RBIs in this year's playoffs. Arozarena, the ALCS MVP, has been the breakout star of the postseason, hitting .382 with a rookie-record seven homers and 10 RBIs. The Cuban Rocket needs one home run to match the major league mark of eight in a single postseason, held by Barry Bonds (2002), Carlos Beltran (2004) and Nelson Cruz (2011). Arozarena's 21 hits are one shy Derek Jeter’s 1996 rookie postseason record. ... Kevin Kiermaier, a three-time Gold Glove winner in center field and the longest-tenured Rays player, missed three starts in the ALCS after being hit by a pitch on the left hand in Game 3. He returned to the lineup in Game 7 but appeared to have trouble swinging. ... Morton, who turns 37 next month, is the only pitcher to win four winner-take-all postseason games — including Game 7 of the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers with Houston. ... Rays led the AL with 20 comeback wins during the regular season. ... Tampa Bay thrived despite injuries that forced Cash to juggle his rotation and tinker with bullpen roles. The team had 12 pitchers earn at least one save, matching the big league record set by the 1973 Rangers. Fairbanks became the 13th in the playoff opener against Toronto. The hard-throwing staff now takes aim at the deep and dangerous Dodgers, who led the majors in runs and homers.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Playoff Entry: NL West champions.
Playoff Seed: No. 1.
Manager: Dave Roberts (fifth season).
Projected Rotation: LHP Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA, 62 Ks), RHP Dustin May (3-1, 2.57, 44 Ks), RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44, 42 Ks), LHP Julio Urías (3-0, 3.27, 45 Ks).
Top Hitters: SS Corey Seager (.307, 15 HRs, 41 RBIs, 38 runs, 12 doubles, .943 OPS), RF Mookie Betts (.292, 16, 39, 47 runs, 10 SBs, .928 OPS), C Will Smith (.289, 8, 25, .980 OPS), LF AJ Pollock (.276, 16, 34, .881 OPS), 3B Justin Turner (.307, 4, 23, .860 OPS), CF Cody Bellinger (.239, 12, 30, .789 OPS).
Top Relievers: RHP Kenley Jansen (3-1, 3.33 ERA, 11 saves), RHP Blake Treinen (3-3, 3.86, 1 save), RHP Joe Kelly (0-0, 1.80), RHP Pedro Báez (0-0, 3.18, 2 saves), RHP Brusdar Graterol (1-2, 3.09), RHP Dylan Floro (3-0, 2.59), RHP Tony Gonsolin (2-2, 2.31, 46 Ks in 9 games, 8 starts).
Series Summary: After winning the franchise's 24th National League pennant, Dodgers seek their seventh World Series title and first in 32 years. ... Dodgers won their third pennant in four years by overcoming 3-1 series deficit against Atlanta in NLCS. They rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 down in Game 7, getting a tying homer from pinch-hitter Kiké Hernández in the sixth inning and a go-ahead shot from Bellinger in the seventh for a 4-3 victory. Los Angeles allowed only seven runs while winning the final three games — aided by some spectacular defense from Betts. Seager batted .310 with five homers, two doubles and 11 RBIs to earn series MVP honors. ... Dodgers won their eighth consecutive NL West crown with baseball’s best record this season but are still chasing their first championship since 1988. They made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017 (lost to Houston in seven games) and 2018 (lost to Boston in five games with Betts on the Red Sox roster). They won a franchise-record 106 games last year and didn’t make it out of the Division Series. “This year is our year,” Roberts said after the NLCS comeback vs. Atlanta. ... With much of the 2020 postseason played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus, LA stays at the Texas Rangers' new ballpark with a retractable roof for the third straight round. Dodgers will be the “home team" and bat last in Games 1 and 2 of Series, and 6 and 7 if necessary, thanks to superior regular-season record. About 11,000 fans will be allowed to attend each game. ... Dodgers had only one day off before Series opener. Tampa Bay got two. Kershaw will be on regular rest in Game 1, but LA must decide whether to start Buehler on three days’ rest in Game 2 or have him pitch Game 3 on extra rest. Another option for early innings of Game 2 is likely some combination of May and Gonsolin, who both pitched in Game 7 against Braves. ... The 24-year-old Urías is already pitching in his fourth postseason. He went 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 16 innings in four playoff games (one start) this year. He won Game 3 of NLCS as a starter and Game 7 in relief. ... Buehler, who has been dealing with blisters, has 29 Ks and a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. ... Kershaw went 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three playoff starts, leaving the three-time Cy Young Award winner 11-12 with a 4.31 ERA in his postseason career. He lost Game 4 against Atlanta after his NLCS start was pushed back a couple of days due to back spasms. He is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four World Series starts and a Game 7 relief appearance in 2017. ... Los Angeles dispatched No. 8 seed Milwaukee and division-rival San Diego in the first two rounds of the playoffs, outscoring them by a combined 30-11 while winning all five games. ... Jansen struggled with diminished velocity during a shaky outing against the Padres before getting pulled. But he looked much better in the NLCS and saved a 3-1 win in Game 6 with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. ... Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, has been more productive in postseason following a 2020 drop-off. ... Turner’s exploits in October have made him one of the franchise’s greatest postseason performers, but he was on the injured list with a strained hamstring in September and tweaked his thumb on the last weekend of the regular season. He batted just .209 with a homer and four RBIs during the NL playoffs. ... One of the Dodgers’ biggest weapons is their depth. They move players in and out of multiple positions frequently — Betts even started at second base. Roberts has all sorts of options at his disposal. ... Andrew Friedman’s fingerprints are all over both teams. Friedman was Tampa Bay's director of baseball operations from 2004-05 and then general manager until he left in October 2014 to become the Dodgers' president of baseball operations.
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