Dodgers 8 Rays 3

Clayton Freaking Kershaw and Mookie Freaking Betts.

Jim Rome
October 21, 2020 - 9:50 am
Mookie Betts

USA Today

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Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts. Clayton Freaking Kershaw and Mookie Freaking Betts. That’s all you need to need to know about LA’s 8-3 win over Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the World Series.

In the World Series, when you need your biggest stars to be your biggest stars, they both showed up huge. Let’s start with Kershaw, because the first inning didn’t start so well for Kershaw.

The first batter singled. He got a pop-up from the second batter. Got ahead 0-1 on the third hitter and then threw four straight balls.

Runners on first and second in the first inning with one out is not ideal. And given his post season narrative, especially not ideal for Kershaw. Because in that first inning, the STRUGGLE WAS REAL. He was struggling to find his slider. Dodger fans were freaking out and Kershaw haters were cackling. They couldn’t wait to jump Kershaw. Couldn’t wait to crush him for being PLAYOFF KERSHAW, the extreme opposite of Playoff Rondo. 

I mean….The pleasure that some losers get from taking a run at him is simultaneously idiotic and embarrassing. And they were ready to unleash hell again in the first last night.

But Kershaw battled through a six pitch strikeout and then got a groundout to end the inning. And that pretty much ended the offense for the Rays for the night. That walk was the only one he gave up all night. The hit was one of two he gave up all night.

Here’s how the Rays went in innings two through six:

1-2-3

1-2-3

1-2-3

1-2-solo home run-3

1-2-3

In other words: surprise surprise motherbleepers, The king is back. And you can’t just diminish the accomplishment by saying he did against a bunch of scrubs like you tried to do when he locked up the Brewers earlier this postseason. Because this was dialed in. He was GREAT. 

Six innings, two hits, one run, one walk, eight strikeouts. When Kershaw was on the mound, the Rays took 38 swings and completely missed on 19 of them. And he could’ve gone deeper in the game if the Dodgers wanted him too, but they didn’t need that.

And just for the record, in this postseason, his ERA is 2.88 and he has 31 strikeouts in 25 innings. And was only three batters. But none of you haters have any interest in hearing any of those numbers. Only the ones that enable you to see the world the way you want to see it: a world where for some reason, you think Kershaw is a choking dog, and that somehow, that makes you feel better about you. That when he doesn’t excel in the postseason, somehow that means you’re excelling in life. That math just doesn’t up for me. But don’t get it twisted, he was great last night. And he was doing work for a great team: and he knows their best will be anyone else’s best, quote: "I mean, if we play at our best, no. I think we are the best team, and I think our clubhouse believes that. There's gonna be certain times where we get beat, and that happens. But as a collective group, if everybody's doing what they're supposed to be doing and playing the way they're supposed to, I don't see how that can happen."

And he’s right. Their best will beat Tampa bay’s best. They’re just better. They’re deeper. They’re more talented. And Dave Roberts said after they came back on the Braves to rip their pennant, it’s their time. Seeing what has happened since Game 5 of that series, it’s hard to disagree. It does look like their time; and the Dodgers best does beat everyone else’s. Especially when Kershaw is dealing the way he was, and the Dodgers were tearing it up at the plate and on the basepaths.

Cody Bellinger got things started off in the fourth.

That was a rocket. And yes, just as he promised, he went with the foot tap celebration when he got back to home plate. And normally, if you’re the guy who had the go-ahead homer in Game 7 of the NLCS and then homer again in Game 1 of the World Series, you’re going to be the story of the game. But normally you don’t play with someone like Mookie Betts.

Because while last night was the Kershaw Show on the mound, it was the Betts Show just about everywhere else.

And the fifth inning was a great example. Because Tampa Bay had just cut LA’s lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth and then Betts went to work in the bottom of the inning. He led off with a walk and then did the classic Rickey Henderson move of turning a walk into a double by stealing second. 

Meanwhile, Corey Seager worked an eight pitch walk. And Dave Roberts figured if one guy stealing one base is good, two guys stealing two bases is even better., even if no one ever thinks about anymore much less tries it, much less executes it on the big stage, but they did. And then Betts capped off his trip around the bases by scoring on a fielder’s choice.

That was freaking awesome. Walk, stolen base, stolen base, beat the throw to the plate on a ground ball to first on a drawn-in infield.

That is the kind of old school baseball that isn’t played much anymore. The move now is to get on base and wait for the big hit, but Betts wasn’t waiting around. He was looking to cause chaos and havoc and he did just that. Do you know how much that jacks with a pitcher’s head?

Because it sure looks like it got to Rays starter Tyler Glasnow. The walk that Betts drew turned into the start of a five running inning where the Dodgers chased him and blew the game open.

And if that’s the only thing Betts did last night that would be enough. But he wasn’t done. He came back in his next at-bat and homered. 

That whole sequence, from the fifth inning to the sixth inning, is why Betts is one of the two best players in baseball. And that doesn’t even take into account his defense. That sequence is why an elite organization would trade for him and sign him to an elite contract. That’s what elite organizations do.

Which raises the following question: Red Sox fans and ownership, how the hell did that feel last night?

How did it feel to be enjoying a bottle of Sam Adams Octoberfest and watching your guy doing that for the Dodgers in the World Series? Do you still feel like he’s not worth what he was asking for?

How did it feel to see the guy you drafted, developed and who became a star with you being absolutely electric on the biggest stage in someone else’s jersey?

Did that feel good? Were you able to comfort yourself with the notion of payroll flexibility? It’s going to be so awesome when you get to hang a banner for payroll flexibility and fire up the Duckboats for a parade to celebrate having a few extra bucks around.  How the hell do you trade a guy like that?  In his prime?  Answer: you don’t.  Because you don’t trade potential hall of famers.  

That has to suck. And it’s going to suck for a very long time. Because this guy is going to be doing these things, on the big stage for a very long time. 

Notice what I’m not saying. I’m not saying last night’s win means this is going to be a short series.  Or worse that the series is already over. Because it’s not... Because it’s just one game. You don’t win a World Series in Game 1. You need four of those before it’s over. And if you’ve forgotten that, just remember back to when LA blew out Atlanta in Game 3 and Dodger honks thought the series was over, only to watch their guys get HAMMERED in Game 4 and suddenly face what seemed like inevitable elimination.  . The Rays are legit. now. And they’re coming back with a CY Young winner tonight in Blake Snell and they have their best bullpen arms available as well.

It’s one win and you need three more: keep this up, you’ll get em, because the Rays best doesn’t beat the Dodgers best. Now it’s just a matter of la bring their best three more times.  And it says it they will. And lot of it has to do with the way Kershaw showed up last night: regardless of what many of you Kershaw hating dopes think.