ARLINGTON, Texas — The Tampa Bay Rays arrived at Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night having hit .208 with a .690 OPS in 15 postseason games. They had struck out in 21 percent of their at-bats.
If not for their consistently excellent pitching and defense, the Rays would have been home by now.
But manager Kevin Cash ignored the small sample size and stayed with the players who had performed so well for him during the regular season.
Austin Meadows (4 for 37 with 13 strikeouts in the postseason) batted first and Brandon Lowe (6 for 56, 19 strikeouts) was second.
“For better or worse, we’re going to stick with guys we have a lot of faith in,” Cash said before the game.
That’s easy to say during the season, far less so after being outclassed by the Dodgers in Game 1.
Tampa Bay’s broken offense finally worked. Lowe hit two opposite-field home runs in a 6-4 victory before a crowd of 11,472 at Globe Life Field.
Credit the Rays for staying true to their beliefs and not making changes for the sake of change.
But Lowe didn’t assume anything when he arrived at the ballpark.
“I don’t know that I ever walk through a clubhouse and think I’m going to hit in a certain spot,” he said. “The lineup is ever-changing. But I’m glad they showed faith in me.”
Lowe drove in three runs, as did Joey Wendle, who had a double and a sacrifice fly. Meadows singled and scored a run. The six runs were the most scored by the Rays since Oct. 7 when they beat the Yankees, 8-4, in Game 3 of the Division Series.
Stop the coronation. Now it’s a series.
“I don’t think anybody in our clubhouse thought the series was over. It was one game,” Lowe said. “We had to show up and take care of business.”
Blake Snell helped make it work for the Rays by carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning thanks to a sharp slider. That allowed Tampa Bay to build a 5-0 lead.
Snell got two outs in the fifth before Kike Hernandez walked and Chris Taylor drove a curveball over the fence in right center field.
When Mookie Betts walked and Corey Seager singled, the Dodgers suddenly had the tying run at the plate. Nick Anderson, who has been one of the best relievers in the game since he was obtained from the Marlins last season, relieved Snell and struck out Justin Turner looking at a fastball.
Snell allowed the two runs on two hits with four walks and nine strikeouts.
“He was outstanding. He gave us everything that we needed,” Cash said.
Snell, who gives off a Jeff Spicoli vibe, said he “blanked out” pitching his first World Series game and just stayed with his game plan.
The Dodgers used seven pitchers to maneuver through the game, none going more than two innings.
They started righthander Tony Gonsolin, who threw 41 pitches over two innings in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday.
Lowe’s first home run came on a fastball in the first inning. Gonsolin was lifted in the second after recording four outs. It was the shortest start in a World Series game since 2014 when San Francisco’s Jake Peavy lasted 1 1/3 innings against Kansas City in Game 6.
As Dodgers manager Dave Roberts walked back and forth to the mound, the Rays worked over his bullpen.
Manuel Margot had a RBI single off Dustin May in the fourth inning then scored on a double by Wendle.
Meadows singled with one two outs in the fifth inning and scored on Lowe’s second home, a blast to left field on an 0-2 pitch.
Lowe, an All-Star in 2019, had a .916 OPS during the regular season. He led the team with 19 home runs, 37 RBIs and 36 RBIs.
“You can’t go away from a player like that,” Cash said.
Joe Kelly, now a handsomely compensated low-leverage reliever, started the sixth inning and promptly allowed two hits. Wendle followed with a 97-m.p.h. smash to left field that went for a sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers did not allow another run, giving their potent lineup a chance.
But they never quite got there. Will Smith had a solo homer in the sixth inning off Anderson and Seager one in the eighth inning facing Pete Fairbanks.
Turner doubled after Seager’s home run but Anderson retired Muncy and Smith before lefty Aaron Loup struck out Cody Bellinger.
Loup got the first two outs in the ninth before righthander Diego Castillo was called in to face Taylor and struck him out.