Rays pushed to the brink after 4-2 loss to Dodgers

A shaky Tyler Glasnow start puts the Rays in an early hole, and they face a must-win Game 6 Tuesday.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) looks to the outfield as Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy (13) rounds the bases after connecting for a solo home run in the fifth inning in Game 5 of the World Series.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) looks to the outfield as Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy (13) rounds the bases after connecting for a solo home run in the fifth inning in Game 5 of the World Series. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 26, 2020|Updated Oct. 26, 2020

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays have been here before.

With their season on the brink after a deflating loss, they came back to beat the Yankees in the fifth and final game of the American League Division Series. Facing elimination again eight days later, they bounced back from three straight increasingly frustrating losses to beat the Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Now they are on the edge again.

A 4-2 loss to the Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night forced them there, down three games to two and needing a win on Tuesday to force a seventh and decisive game on Wednesday.

“Well,” manager Kevin Cash said, "we have to do it again.''

Given the resiliency they’ve shown to this point, several Rays made a case for why they can do it.

“We’ve had good bounceback wins all year,” said centerfielder and team leader Kevin Kiermaier. “If there’s any team who can respond well with their backs against the wall, in a sense, knowing what’s at stake — we’re in a situation now where it’s win or go home — our group is the group to come through when we need it the most.”

The Rays hoped to carry over the momentum from Saturday’s thrilling and historic 8-7 walkoff win, as they scored two runs on a two-out, two-strike single by reserve Brett Phillips and two errors on the play.

But a shaky start by Tyler Glasnow put them in an early hole against the Dodgers' deep lineup, the Rays offense was again relatively quiet and Manuel Margot made a curious — if not questionable — unsuccessful attempt to steal home that ended what already was a frustrating fourth.

“They were better tonight,” Kiermaier said. “Put pressure on us, certainly, and then we, you know, couldn’t get a whole lot going there offensively and they just got a couple more big hits than us, scored a few more runs, obviously, and that was a difference-maker.”

Glasnow talked a good game about planning to get off to a better start than in his Game 1 outing, being in rhythm and executing more pitches.

And then a leadoff double by Mookie Betts and a single by Corey Seager put the Dodgers up 10 pitches into the game. Two wild pitches, two strikeouts and a walk later, a single by Cody Bellinger made it 2-0.

Glasnow needed 34 pitches to get the first three outs, then gave up a homer to Joc Pederson leading off the second.

“Just got to somehow prevent them from getting early leads on us,” Cash said. “And that’s both ways. Offensively, we’ve got to do our part a little earlier and set a tone. On the pitching front, with Glas, they just got to him quick, drove his pitch count up.”

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Cash said it was a surprise Glasnow made it through five innings, and he was right. It took Glasnow 102 pitches (61 strikes) to do so, allowing four runs on six hits with three walks, seven strikeouts and a World Series-game-record three wild pitches.

“I think just out of rhythm to start,” Glasnow said. “Obviously, didn’t go as planned. I think after that second inning or so, I think it was a little better. Got in a rhythm a little bit more, but I just think not soon enough, obviously.”

The Rays scored two in the third and wasted a prime chance in the fourth, but Glasnow allowed another homer in the fifth to Max Muncy. The nine homers Glasnow allowed in the playoffs are a record, as are his four appearances allowing four or more runs in a postseason.

The Rays got two runs in the third off Clayton Kershaw, which was already an improvement over their Game 1 showing.

Kevin Kiermaier led off with an infield single, and then Yandy Diaz delivered his first RBI, and sixth hit, of the postseason, lacing a ball to right and legging out a triple. Randy Arozarena then knocked Diaz in with a single, and in doing so broke another major-league postseason record with his 27th hit, one more than Pablo Sandoval had for San Francisco in 2014.

The Rays had a chance to tie in the fourth when Margot walked and moved up to third after a steal and missed catch by second baseman Chris Taylor, and Hunter Renfroe reached on a walk. But Joey Wendle popped out and Willy Adames struck out. And then Margot, in an unusual move, especially in a Series game, tried to steal home off Kershaw,but was thrown out.

“It was my decision,” Margot said via team translator Manny Navarro. “It was 100 percent my decision. I thought it was a good idea at the time. I thought I had a pretty good chance of being safe.”

Cash was careful in saying it was Margot’s decision and he would defer to his judgement.

“I think Manny just felt like he had a bead on it and that he could time him up,” Cash said. “Frustrating inning, man on third, no outs, then first and third no outs. Pop up, strikeout, and then get thrown out trying to do that. Ideally, we’ve got to find a way to get that guy in to tie the game right there.”

They have no more margin.

“It’s one more loss, and obviously it’s not a great position to be in,” Glasnow said. “But I think we’ve kind of battled all year long and we’ve come back before, so just go out and play like normal.”