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Dodgers 8, Rays 3

Dodgers get the jump on Rays, easily win Game 1 of World Series

Mookie Betts hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers a 7-1 lead in Game 1 of the World Series.
Mookie Betts hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers a 7-1 lead in Game 1 of the World Series.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, and the Los Angeles Dodgers left the Tampa Bay Rays stuck in neutral to start a most strange World Series played amid the pandemic.

Kershaw dominated for six innings, Bellinger and Betts homered, and the Dodgers chased a wild Tyler Glasnow in the fifth inning for an 8-3 win Tuesday night in the first Series held at a neutral site.

A crowd limited by the coronavirus to 11,388 at Globe Life Field, the new $1.2 billion home of the Texas Rangers, marked the smallest for baseball’s top event in 111 years.

Kershaw, a regular-season star with an erratic postseason history, looked like the ace who so often stars on midsummer evenings with the San Gabriel Mountains behind him at Dodger Stadium. With these games shifted, the 32-year-old lefthander wound up pitching not far from his offseason home in Dallas.

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The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight, and walked one. He induced 19 swings and misses among his 78 pitches — more than his three previous Series starts combined. He threw nine balls in the first, when he stranded a pair of runners, then threw just nine more over the next three innings.

Kershaw retired 13 in a row before his only mistake, a fastball Kevin Kiermaier pulled for a home run in the fifth inning that cut the Rays' deficit to 2-1. The five-time ERA champ improved to 2-2 in the World Series and 12-12 in postseason play, a shadow of his 175-76 regular-season record.

Game 2 is Wednesday night. The Dodgers, who posted the best record in the majors during the shortened season and showed off all their stars in Game 1, plan to throw a collection of relievers against Rays ace Blake Snell.

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Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP who began the opener with a career .114 batting average in 12 World Series games, had put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Glasnow, having no trouble driving a 98-mile-per-hour pitch into the Dodgers' bullpen in right-center.

Bellinger, whose seventh-inning homer put the Dodgers ahead in Game 7 of the NLCS on Sunday, raised an arm triumphantly while Glasnow turned and watched the ball sail out.

He shuffled his feet, tapping gently as he crossed the plate and celebrated while dancing back to the dugout, a sign he remembered popping his right shoulder during raucous revelry two nights earlier. Bellinger capped his evening by leaping at the 6-foot center-field wall in the ninth, robbing Austin Meadows of a possible home run.

Betts, brilliant throughout October but slumping at the plate, added his first postseason homer for the Dodgers, a solo shot in the sixth off Josh Fleming.

Betts had two hits, scored two runs, and stole two bases in the four-run fifth, when Corey Seager swiped one as Los Angeles became the first team to steal three bases in a Series inning since the 1912 New York Giants in Game 5 against Boston.

After helping Boston beat the Dodgers in the 2018 Series, Betts was traded to LA before this season. The former AL MVP showed off his defensive skills in the NLCS with three terrific catches.

Mookie Betts celebrates a homer against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of Tuesday's game.
Mookie Betts celebrates a homer against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of Tuesday's game.Eric Gay/Associated Press

Los Angeles is in the Series for the third time in four years but seeking its first title since the Kirk Gibson- and Orel Hershiser-led team of 1988. Coming off an unusual LCS of games on seven straight days, the Dodgers planned an all-bullpen outing for the next game.

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Tampa Bay’s only previous Series was a five-game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.

After a regular-season played without fans, MLB resumed selling tickets with a limited amount for the NLCS at Globe Life and kept that up by allowing about 28 percent of capacity to be filled at the 40,518 capacity ballpark, where the roof was open. The crowd was widely dispersed throughout and was the smallest for the Series since 10,535 attended Game 6 between the Pirates and Tigers at Detroit’s Bennett Park in 1909, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Glasnow was chased after 4⅓ innings with an ominous pitching line that included three hits, six runs, six walks, and eight strikeouts. He threw a career-high 112 pitches and became the first to walk six or more in a series game since Edwin Jackson of St. Louis in Game 4 of 2011. Glasnow went to three-ball counts on 12 of 23 batters.

Los Angeles expanded its lead to 4-1 in the fifth, when Rays manager Kevin Cash left Glasnow in to face lefthanded-hitting Max Muncy with runners at the corners. Muncy hit a one-hopper to first baseman Yandy Díaz with the infield in, and Betts beat a strong but slightly offline throw with a headfirst slide past catcher Mike Zunino.

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Will Smith finished Glasnow with an RBI single, and Chris Taylor and pinch hitter Kiké Hernández followed with run-scoring singles off Ryan Yarbrough for a 6-1 lead.

Justin Turner and Max Muncy doubled on consecutive pitches in the sixth.

Pinch hitter Mike Brosseau and Kiermaier singled in runs in the seventh against Víctor González, who snagged Zunino’s line drive and doubled Brosseau off second base for an inning-ending double play.