Dodgers win the World Series
This was an absolutely wild ending to the most bizarre MLB season (hopefully) any of us will ever see. Before we get to the COVID part of all of this, though, the game itself was pretty damn good. The Rays had to win to force a Game Seven, and they had their ace, Blake Snell, on the mound to try and get it done. Things were going their way early on. Tony Gonsolin was starting for the Dodgers, and he was struggling. Randy Arozarena smacked a solo homer in the top half of the first and the Rays jumped out in front before Snell even had to throw a pitch. Gonsolin would not end up getting through two innings, but the Rays couldn’t take advantage of their other chances and settled for just that one run.
Fortunately for them, with the way Snell was throwing they were still able to hold onto their lead. The Rays ace was absolutely dealing in this one, pitching efficiently and cruising through the night. He had not allowed a run heading into the sixth with only one hit being allowed to go with nine strikeouts and no walks. After recording the first out of the inning, Snell gave up a single to the nine hitter, Austin Barnes, and the game turned at this point. Kevin Cash, with Snell at only 73 pitches, came out of the dugout to bring in Nick Anderson. Cash was not going to let Snell go through the order a third time under any circumstances. So many times we see moves like this second-guessed, but make no mistake here: This one was first-guessed. There are statistical reasons to defend this move, but with the way Snell was pitching combined with the way Nick Anderson has struggled this postseason it was a hard decision to understand. It should also be mentioned that the top three hitters in the Dodgers lineup, the three hitters due up next, were a combined 0-6 with six strikeouts on the night.
And, sure enough, the Dodgers immediately made Cash regret things. Mookie Betts ripped a double down the left field line to put two in scoring position. Anderson threw a wild pitch, allowing Barnes to come in and tie the game. Betts scored on a ground ball to first base, on which he showed off his perhaps totally unmatched instincts on the bases, to give L.A. the lead. This entire decision will be boiled down to analytics versus feel for the game (or however you want to phrase it). I reject that premise on its face — it was a bad decision and basically everyone, regardless of how they consume the game, agreed — but the takes will be coming hot and heavy today. And, frankly, Cash deserves every bit of criticism he’s going to get for this move.
Still, the Rays had a chance to come back with nine more outs to score one more run. They couldn’t do it. The Dodgers bullpen was incredible all night, and it was Julio Urías who closed it out, tossing 2 1⁄3 perfect innings to end it. Betts also added some cushion to the lead with a solo homer in the eighth. It was a 3-1 final score, and the Dodgers got their first title since 1988. Corey Seager was named MVP.
Justin Turner tests positive for COVID mid-game
MLB couldn’t end its season without some wild controversy, and COVID reared its ugly head for the final game. Here’s what we know as of this moment early Wednesday morning. Justin Turner was mysteriously pulled from the game in the seventh inning. Immediately after the game, FOX broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt announced Turner was pulled due to a positive COVID test. We later learned that the league had received news of an inconclusive test for Turner in the second inning, and then getting a more recent test back with positive results in the seventh inning. Turner was told to isolate once the positive test came in. He did not, as he came out and took pictures and celebrated with his team, at times without a mask.
I’m not really sure where to go with all of this. I’m mad. I’m mad at the league. I’m mad at the Dodgers. I’m mad at Justin Turner. It’s downright irresponsible that Turner was allowed to play after news of the inconclusive test came in. Those have to be treated as a positive. And Turner can’t be allowed to come back on the field. There is a good amount of personal responsibility here and Turner deserves a ton of scorn for this, but the organization and league has to have ways to stop him, too. What happened after the game, with Turner taking maskless pictures after a positive test while surrounded by coaches, teammates and families of those coaches and teammates, is unacceptable. That will be the scene I remember from this game and this series, and it’s both disheartening and, sadly, fitting for this season. There’s more information that will come out, I’m sure, but for now I’m just very much hoping this is not something that spreads among those who were on the field with Turner.