|TB (145) @ bet365|
My 10* MLB Game of the Year is on the TB Rays at 8:08 ET.
The 2020 World Series got underway Tuesday night and the Dodgers looked every bit the part of a team with MLB's best record in this COVID-shortened season with an 8-3 victory. Three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw shrugged off his rocky playoff history to give up just ONE run on two hits over six innings with only one walk and eight strikeouts. He retired 13 consecutive batters until Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo HR in the fifth. In contrast, the Ray's Tyler Glasnow allowed three hits and SIX walks (three would eventually score) in 4.1 innings of work in which he allowed SIX runs (all earned). Cody Bellinger gave the Dodgers an early lead with a two-run HR (two days after his go-ahead HR in Game 7 of the NLCS) and Mookie Betts hit his first postseason HR for the Dodgers in the sixth to open a 7-1 advantage. Betts, Muncy and Taylor each had two hits. Tampa Bay had just six hits, while LA struck out 10 Rays as opposed to allowing just ONE walk.
However, Game 2 told a very different tale, as Blake Snell took charge from the mound in the first four innings, while Brandon Lowe took charge at the plate. Lowe came in batting .083 (4-for-48) with one HR in his previous 13 postseason games but ended his slump in dramatic fashion. Lowe jump started the Rays' offense with a solo HR in the first inning off Tony Gonsolin, then hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning off Dustin May, as the Rays led 5-0 into the bottom of the 5th. Snell didn't allow a hit through four innings, while striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings. However, Snell's dreams of a no-hitter ended in the 5th. He walked Kiké Hernandez with two out and served up a two-run HR to Chris Taylor. A walk to Mookie Betts and a single by Corey Seager ended Snell's night. Four relievers held off the Dodgers, allowing two runs over 4.1 innings, as Tampa Bay evened the Series at one-all. The Rays had 10 hits, the first time they reached double digits since Game 3 of their ALDS against the New York Yankees, a single-digit-hit skid that had lasted 10 games. The Dodgers used SEVEN pitchers in the loss but the good news (for both pitching staffs) is that Thursday is an "off day."
Game 3 is set for Friday and it features the best pitching matchup of the series. We could see a rematch of this Buehler/Morton showdown if the World Series is extended to a Game 7. However, that's getting ahead of ourselves. Here's the 'dope' on LA's Buehler. He made 30 starts for LA in 2019, going 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and .223 BAA. He only earned ONE win during the regular season (zero losses), as the Dodgers went 7-1 in his eight regular season starts, during which he was bothered in September by some finger issues. He ended the regular season with a 3.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP (42-11 KW ratio) and an outstanding BAA of .178. However, his longest outing all season was just SIX innings. The Dodgers won both of his first two postseason starts but Buehler only finished FOUR innings in each outing. He squared off against Max Fried in Game 1 of the NLCS and allowed just one run in five innings but also surrendered five walks (LA lost 5-1, when the Braves scored FOUR times in the top of the 9th). He got a second chance against Fried and Atlanta in Game 6 and was excellent, pitching six scoreless innings with a 6-0 KW ratio, as the Dodgers sent the series to a Game 7 with a 3-1 victory. LA has won THREE of his four postseason starts with Buehler posting a 1.89 ERA.
Charlie Morton takes the mound for Tampa Bay and the Rays couldn't be happier that it's him on the mound with the series tied at one-all. Morton's career began back in 2008 with Atlanta but he was with Pittsburgh from 2009-15. In two of those seasons, he was just AWFUL, going 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA in 2010 and 6-12 with a 3.72 ERA in 2014. The Pirates traded Morton to the Philadelphia Phillies but his 2016 season came to an abrupt end on April 23, when he suffered a hamstring injury running to first base in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and on April 27 the Phillies announced Morton would miss the rest of the 2016 season with a torn hamstring. Then, on November 16, 2016, Morton signed a two-year, $14 million contract with the Houston Astros. One would have to ask why? He joined the Astros for the 2017 season with a career record of just 46-71 (.400).
However, Morton turned his career around after signing with Houston, going 29-10 in 2017-18. That got him a two-year, $30 million deal with Tampa Bay and Morton went 16-6, 3.05 ERA in 2019 for the Rays. He made his second All Star team last year plus set career highs in wins (16), ERA (3.05), innings (194.2) and in strikeouts (240). He also led all major league pitchers in HRs/9 innings pitched, at 0.694. Morton was no 'great shakes' in 2020, going 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine starts (team was 5-4). However, he's 3-0 in 2020's postseason, allowing 11 hits and two runs (one earned) over 15.2 innings for an 0.57 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 17-4 KW ratio. In fact, Morton has won all FIVE of his starts in the playoffs for Tampa Bay over the last two years while recording a minuscule 0.70 ERA. Morton pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in Tampa Bay's Game 7 win over Houston, an effort makes him 3-0 in Game 7 appearances, having beaten the Yankees as a starter in the 2017 ALCS and the Dodgers in relief in the 2017 World Series. In 14.2 career Game 7 innings, he's given up just one run and six hits. This is NOT a Game 7 but I'm "all over" Morton and the Rays in this Game 3.