A Rays opening act to forget as Dodgers roll to 8-3 win

Game 1 of the World Series gets ugly as Tyler Glasnow has a rough start and the NL champs show quick-strike ability.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger rounds the bases after a two-run home run off the Tampa Bay Rays' Tyler Glasnow during the fourth inning in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger rounds the bases after a two-run home run off the Tampa Bay Rays' Tyler Glasnow during the fourth inning in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas. [ ERIC GAY | AP ]
Published Oct. 21, 2020|Updated Oct. 21, 2020

ARLINGTON, Texas — It seemed the angle for Tuesday’s opening game of the World Series was going to be why Rays manager Kevin Cash stuck with Tyler Glasnow deep into the fifth inning when he had walked six Dodgers and had thrown more than 100 pitches.

But then it became a longer story. And a much longer night.

Glasnow’s poor pitching wasn’t the Rays' only issue, as the team with the top record in the American League was roughed up by the National League’s best, 8-3.

“We’ve just got to get some momentum going for us and feel good about ourselves,” said centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. “That’s when we’re better, but a lot easier said than done. We’ll be okay. Not really how you want to start out first game, but we’ll be just fine.”

Teams that win the first game in the best-of-seven World Series have gone on to the championship 62.6 percent of the time, including 14 of the past 17 and 19 of 22.

Even as the offense was shut down by a very sharp Clayton Kershaw, who has had past Series struggles, and the Dodgers' lineup seems overwhelming, Cash insisted there were things to be encouraged about.

One was that Rays hitters had some better at-bats in the later innings and, if not for a highlight-reel snag of a Mike Zunino line drive by reliever Victor Gonzalez in the seventh, could have made the game at least interesting.

The other is that they will have Blake Snell on the mound for Game 2, in what obviously becomes a markedly bigger game.

“Not discouraging,” Cash said. “Disappointing, yeah. We bounce right back like we like we’ve done multiple times this year and look to find a way to win a game (Wednesday). We’ve got Blake on the mound which is very, very encouraging. So, no, we’ll be good.”

At the least, they have to be better.

Walking seven while managing only six hits and striking out 10 times is not a good equation for success.

Glasnow said he felt he was rushing in the early innings, then out of whack mechanically and unable to throw anything but his fastball for strikes, in a messy night. “A little weird,” he said.

He walked six, his most since a 2017 game when he was with the Pirates. He threw a career-high 112 pitches (and only 58 strikes) over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed three stolen bases in the pivotal fifth, the first time a team swiped three in an inning in a Series game since 1912.

“I have to execute pitches better, I have to hold runners better,” he said. “Definitely a frustrating one.”

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Related: MLB commissioner: Rays are ‘example of what’s great’ about the game

Cash said it was obvious Glasnow wasn’t sharp.

“I think it was ultimately a kind of a lack of strike throwing right there,” Cash said. “I looked up at one point, I think he was 37 strikes, 37 balls. That’s not ideal. Especially against an offense like this that can really capitalize on the free passes, so that crept up.”

Which brings us to the fifth, and why Cash — who pulled Snell two batters into the fifth with a shutout going Friday in AL Championship Series Game 6 against the Astros, and Charlie Morton in the sixth of an even tidier outing in Saturday’s Game 7 — left Glasnow in.

The Dodgers had taken a 2-0 lead when Glasnow walked Max Muncy to start the fourth, his third free pass in the first 13 batters, then an out allowed a two-run homer to Cody Bellinger.

Kevin Kiermaier hits a home run against the Dodgers during the fifth inning.
Kevin Kiermaier hits a home run against the Dodgers during the fifth inning. [ SUE OGROCKI | AP ]

But the Rays came back as Kiermaier went deep with two outs in the fifth off Kershaw, who had retired his last 13. The Rays needed a shutdown inning from Glasnow to maintain that momentum.

They got anything but, as the Dodgers broke the game open with a four-run inning, thanks to Glasnow’s wildness and inattentiveness. He walked Mookie Betts, who stole second, then Corey Seager.

“It’s not ideal,” Cash said. “We come back and make it 2-1 after KK’s home run and then walk, walk, that’s not ideal.”

But not enough to take him out. The Dodgers pulled off a double steal as Justin Turner struck out, and Cash stayed with Glasnow, saying with runners on third and second he was still their best option.

“We needed a strikeout after we weren’t able to hold the runners,” Cash said. “Felt like Glas still with his stuff, was equipped to get a strikeout.”

He got a groundball, but despite a good play by first baseman Yandy Diaz, the throw home was off target. A Will Smith single to center made it 4-1, then Cash decided that was enough.

He tried lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who is their planned Game 4 pitcher, then eventually went to rookie Josh Fleming as the Dodgers built an 8-1 lead. The Rays briefly made it interesting in the seventh after Kershaw left, scoring two. They still had two on and one out, but the inning ended in frustration as reliever Victor Gonzalez snared Zunino’s line drive and doubled off Brosseau.

“That would have been nice,” Cash said.

It wasn’t that kind of night.