Series Tied

Remember how explosive the Dodger offense was in Game 1?

Jim Rome
October 22, 2020 - 9:15 am
Brandon Lowe

USA Today

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I could open the show today by saying “I told you so.” But I won’t do that. I will remind you that I told Dodger fans yesterday that the World Series wasn’t over just because their team had won one game. I will remind you that I mentioned the fact that Tampa Bay had a CY Young winner going in Game 2 and a bunch of live arms in the bullpen at the ready.

I will remind you that I said that Dodger fans better not act like they had this all wrapped up based on one game. And I’ll remind you that yesterday I reminded you all that something like this happened in the NLCS when the Dodgers broke out in Game 3, everyone with a Dodger license plate frame thought the Dodgers were going to roll from that point only to get hammered  in Game 4.

Ahhh…Screw it, man…. I told you so. I told you all that yesterday and that is exactly what happened last night.

And you didn’t have to wait long for it to start. Brandon Lowe was the second batter of the game. He’d gone 6 for 56 in the postseason before last night. His manager has sai that he “looks like Elf on a Shelf,” and that Elf on a Shelf left the yard... OPPO: 1-0. 

That was huge. Not just because it signaled that Lowe could be breaking out and getting right, but because it prove the Rays weren’t going away. They didn’t come all this way just to get PUNCHED I THE FACE FOUR TIMES AND RETURN HIM.

The Rays made it 3-0 in the third and then Lowe came back again in the fifth and went yard again. 

DAMN…That Elf on the Shelf can rake. And he can take you deep the opposite way. 5-0 Rays.  Did anyone really think the Rays were just happy to be here; that just reaching the World Series would be good enough, and that they’d be cool with getting their asses kicked once they got there? If you thought that, you don’t know these guy.

When Lowe is hitting and Joey Wendle is hitting, suddenly, this Rays lineup looks a little different. Suddenly it’s not just the Randy Arozazrena Show. Suddenly, they start stringing things together and innings get longer.

And then there’s the pitching. If you had any doubts about that, Blake Snell put those doubts, and the Dodgers bats, to bed in a hurry.

Remember how explosive the Dodger offense was in Game 1?

It wasn’t there at all in Game 2, thanks to Snell. He had a no-hitter going through four and two thirds and struck out nine along the way. And then, by the time he actually did give up a hit, which was a 2-run homer from Chris Taylor, it almost didn’t matter.

After that homer, and a walk, and a single, Cash didn’t waste any time in taking Snell out of the game and going to the bullpen. And that bullpen did work: 4 1/3 innings, three hits, no walks. The only damage came in the form of two solo home runs, but when you’ve got that fat a lead, who cares about solo bombs?

There’s a reason why the Rays are 35-0 when they lead after seven innings. There’s a reason why the Rays have the best record in the American League. They didn’t just show up get speed bagged by the Dodgers: nor do they care that they were matching up with not only the best team in baseball, but a team many thing is the best Dodgers team ever; they don’t care about that nor the fact that team and their fans are looking to exorcise 32 years’ worth of demons: I don’t know what’s more insane: that L.A. Dodgers have gone 32 years between world titles, or that Kirk Gibson hit that bomb 32 years ago. Dude. Speaking of someone kicking someone else’s ass: father time is kicking every last one of our asses. That really happened 32 years ago???! 

And here’s the thing for the Dodgers, at some point, they’re going to need something from Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May. There’s a reason why Dave Roberts keeps turning to them in big spots - these two were absolutely incredible during the regular season.

And there’s a reason why every time he turns to them right now it seems like the Dodgers are out-thinking themselves. Because neither guy has been in big in these big spots. In fact, I hate to say it, but they’ve both been really bad.

Gonsolin had a 2.31 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 32 hits in 46 innings in the regular season. That’s a weapon. In the postseason? He’s got an ERA over nine and is walking nearly one batter per inning. And that continued last night. He started and while he only gave up one hit, that hit was the Lowe bomb in the first that set the tone for the night.

Dustin May wasn’t much better. Again, during the regular season, he was a beast with an era of 2.57. In the postseason, his ERA is nearly double that.

And last night, when he came in with one on and two out in the fourth, he brought his gascan with him again, promptly allowing  a single and a double that drove in two, turning a 1-0 game into a 3-0 game in a about a second flat.

Then he stuck around for the fifth inning and gave up Lowe’s second homer of the game. I get it. It’s hard going from being a starter to a bullpen guy to a starter and not knowing what you’re going to do on a given night or in a given game.

But if the hope was that these guys would be super-subs, if the hope was that they would be Swiss Army knives that could do whatever LA needed in games that Clayton Kershaw and Walker Beuhler weren’t starting, that’s not happening. They’ve combined to allow 13 earned runs in less than 17 innings of postseason work. To hell with Swiss army knives, they’re sporks! 

So yes….I told you that you can’t act like this series is over. Because it’s not. There’s an off day today and then three games in three days. If the Dodgers are smart, they’ll do what they do best; they’ll do what got them here: grind at-bats, wear down the Rays starters and trying to tire out Tampa Bay’s bullpen.

And they’re going to need their own bullpen to do some work as well. They’ve lined it up for Buehler, Julio Urias, and Kershaw in Games 3, 4, and 5. But if this series goes longer than that, they’re going to need something from Gonsolin and May at some point. Be dominant or eat innings or something. But you can’t come in and keep putting it on the tee for the Rays: because they’ll just keep putting it in the seats. 

Now it’s back to square one. That lead in the series that felt so big and so fat after the Dodgers blasted the Rays in the first game, that’s gone now. Now it’s just a best of five. First to three wins. And anyone who rushed in after game one, to say it was going to be a short series, should have known better. I didn’t say it, because I did know better. That’s why I had Dodgers in 7. And I’m sticking with that; now I need Gonsolin and may to do their jobs so I don’t look back. Not that I’m looking to make it about me: I’m not: I’m making it about Gonsolin and may: do better fellas.