After a shortened 60-game regular season due to COVID-19 and a wild expanded postseason format, the two best teams in MLB are set to go head-to-head in the 2020 World Series. You couldn’t ask for much more. The Dodgers punched their ticket with a thrilling 4-3 Game 7 victory over the Braves on Sunday night, advancing to face the Rays beginning Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
This Game 7 was everything you could want a Game 7 to be, but early on, it looked like the Dodgers messed this up. Dustin May got the surprise assignment to start the game with just one day of rest. He wasn’t expected to pitch more than one inning, but he was clearly off, walking the first two batters he faced on eight pitches before giving up an RBI single to Marcell Ozuna. Fortunately for the Dodgers, May was able to survive the threat by getting Travis d’Arnaud to ground into a double play before striking out Ozzie Albies swinging.
Tony Gonsolin followed May in the second inning and would give up a leadoff homer to Dansby Swanson, but the Dodgers finally broke through in the third when Will Smith tied things up with a single against Ian Anderson. Gonsolin was forced out of the game in the fourth after an RBI single from Austin Riley, but the Braves actually bailed out the Dodgers by running into a pair of outs. That proved critical as the game continued.
After Mookie Betts robbed Freddie Freeman of a homer with a leaping catch at the wall in the fifth, Enrique Hernandez tied things up with a pinch-hit homer against A.J. Minter in the sixth inning. Cody Bellinger then put the Dodgers ahead with a no-doubt solo shot against Chris Martin in the seventh. In doing so, he became the first Dodgers player since Rick Monday (1981 NLCS Game 5) to hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later of a winner-take-all-game.
The Dodgers bullpen — Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, and Julio Urias — actually combined for six scoreless frames to finish off the victory. Urias spun three perfect innings on 39 pitches as his amazing postseason run continues.
The Dodgers overcame a pair of deficits in this game, the perfect representation for where they found themselves during the NLCS. They lost the first two games and found themselves down 3-1 in the series at one point before rallying for three straight wins to deny the Braves their first pennant since 1999.
Corey Seager won the MVP Award for the series after setting a new NLCS record with five home runs to go along with 11 RBI. While he went 0-for-5 in Game 7, even his outs were hit hard. The 26-year-old was a bit of a forgotten man coming into the year, with some Dodgers fans even clamoring for Francisco Lindor, but it’s safe to say that he’s back on track following Tommy John and hip surgeries.
This will be the Dodgers’ third trip to the World Series in the past four years. Of course, the club has secured eight consecutive NL West championships, but they are still looking for their first World Series title since 1988. The Rays are strong in all facets of the game and make for one formidable opponent.
Game 1 of the 2020 World Series will take place on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. First pitch is scheduled for 8:09 p.m. ET. Clayton Kershaw is the likely starter for the Dodgers after not pitching in Sunday’s Game 7. Tyler Glasnow or Blake Snell figure to start the series opener for Tampa Bay.
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Quick Hits: In an expected move, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said Sunday that the club intends to pick up the $12.5 million club option on outfielder Starling Marte, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in August … The Marlins have parted ways with president of baseball operations Michael Hill after 18 years in the organization … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Tigers have interviewed Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol for their managerial vacancy and that he’s “one of the top candidates” for the job … Bryan Price has retired after serving just one year as Phillies pitching coach … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Phillies are expected to consider Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo for their general manager opening.