Words could not describe the intensity of this year’s MLB season, but despite the many road bumps the 2020 MLB World Series came to a close, marking the official end of the season. In it, the Los Angeles Dodgers took down the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.
The Rays were the massive underdogs, even though they had the best record in the American League. Their bats fell silent in the playoffs and they ended up being carried by their stellar pitching. Their path included taking down both their division rivals in the first round, followed by the Houston Astros in a thrilling seven-game series. The Blue Jays fell quietly in the first round, being held to three runs in the two games. The Yankees fought hard but were upset 2-1 in a deciding game five thanks to late heroics by Mike Brosseau. The Rays nearly blew a 3-0 lead against Houston by allowing it to reach game seven but Charlie Morton pitched nearly six scoreless innings to shut the potential comeback down.
Considering how much the team has won, including eight consecutive division titles, it’s hard to believe the Dodgers hadn’t won a World Series since 1988. With the addition of Mookie Betts over the offseason, they were clear favorites to win it all since the beginning of the season, and they showed up. The Brewers scored just two runs over the two wild card games and got swept. They moved on to play the San Diego Padres and scored 23 runs over three games, sweeping them as well. They were 5-0 in the postseason. The Atlanta Braves were in the middle of their own miracle run when the Dodgers came to town. In fact, the Braves were up 3-1 through the first four games, forcing a comeback by the Dodgers. Over the next three games, Los Angeles outscored their opponents 14-7 en route to their third World Series in four years.
Both teams faced substantial championship droughts. The Dodgers hadn’t won since 1988, while the Rays had yet to win a title in their franchise history, which dates back to 1998. Sadly, neither team would get to cheer in front of their home audience as the series was held in a neutral field in Arlington, Texas.
Game one was in line with what people expected to happen as the Dodgers trounced the Rays 8-3 behind six innings of one-run work by three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. This made it all the more surprising when the Rays came back the next day and responded with a 6-4 win of their own. Brandon Lowe slapped two home runs in the game to even the series. The Dodgers struck again in game three, winning 6-2 and giving Charlie Morton his first loss of the postseason. Walker Buehler struck out 10 in six innings of work to earn his second win. The Rays were content to trade wins, edging out the Dodgers 8-7 in game four and tying the series at two wins a piece, despite four-hit games by both Corey Seager and Justin Turner. Kershaw picked up his fourth win of the playoffs in game five as the Dodgers won 4-2 and brought themselves to match point.
During game six, the Rays had a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, when their starter was pulled after just 73 pitches despite having struck out nine and allowing just two hits in the first 5.1 innings. In what will be remembered as a colossal managing failure, his replacement Nick Anderson promptly gave up two runs and Los Angeles would go on to win the game 3-1 and be crowned the 2020 World Series champions.
As much as people might not like rooting for the Dodgers, this title was theirs to lose. Ten pitchers in major league history have won three Cy Young awards; before this series, Clayton Kershaw was the only one that had not won a championship. Indeed, since 1961, ten pitchers had won an MVP award, and again, Kershaw was the only one to have not won a championship. Mookie Betts, in his first season with the club, won a championship and is under contract through 2032. Corey Seager earned World Series MVP honors after going 8-20 with two home runs. These players deserved it.
Now comes the seemingly endless period of rest until next March when baseball begins again, and I would not be surprised one bit if both of these teams met again at the top.