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Rays pulling Blake Snell was ’sigh of relief’ for Dodgers hitters

Kevin Cash’s controversial decision to go to the bullpen in the sixth inning gave Los Angeles hitters "a real jolt.''
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts reacts after scoring in the sixth inning in Game 6 of the World Series between on Tuesday night.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts reacts after scoring in the sixth inning in Game 6 of the World Series between on Tuesday night. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 28, 2020
Updated Oct. 29, 2020

ARLINGTON, Texas — Blake Snell wasn’t the only one surprised that Rays manager Kevin Cash took him out in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s World Series finale.

“Oh, man, it was kind of like a sigh of relief,” Dodgers rightfielder Mookie Betts said after the 3-1 clinching win in Game 6. "Had he stayed in the game he may have pitched a complete game. I don’t know exactly what would have happened, but he was rolling. He was pitching really, really well. That’s the Cy Young Snell that came tonight. Once he came out of the game, it was a breath of fresh air.

“We’d had some pretty decent at-bats off their bullpen guys, so we knew, we figured we could scratch one (run) across since we saw the bullpen guys a little better. But, Snell, you’ve got to tip your cap; he did amazing.”

Betts was on deck when Austin Barnes rapped the single, just the Dodgers' second hit of the game, that ended Snell’s night. Before stepping up to the plate to lash a double off reliever Nick Anderson, Betts made his feelings known.

“Once Austin got that hit and they went to the pen, I think that Mookie looked at me with a little smile,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We were just all kind of excited that Snell was out of the game.”

Dodgers baseball operations president Andrew Friedman, who build the Rays into contenders before heading west in October 2014, laughed when he was asked about Cash’s move.

Related: History will forever sneer at Kevin Cash for yanking Blake Snell

“Those guys obviously have managed their starters that way throughout the year and it was good enough to get them to Game 6 of the World Series,” Friedman said. "In that moment. watching the game we were certainly happy that he did.

“Obviously they have their reasons for what they do, and they’re really good at what they do as evidenced by them being in Game 6 of the World Series. But from our standpoint, I think our hitters got a real jolt from that. But who knows how the game plays out if he stays in the game. Something we’ll never know.”

As much as the move inspired the Dodgers, Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said it deflated the Rays.

“I think all of us — well, no, I can’t say that — I wanted to see him stay in because he’s had the early hook the last couple times out there and I was hoping they’d give them that final nod,” Kiermaier said. "Being up 1-0, that probably didn’t help our chances, if we had a three- or four-run lead, things would have been different, but the situation was we were up 1-0 and they wanted to go to the bullpen right there

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“But I thought Blake was dominant from first pitch to the last, and coulda, woulda, shoulda who knows what would have happened, but he threw the ball great. That might have been the best I’ve seen. It was incredible.”