EditorsNote: Write-thru with quotes and details
Clayton Kershaw turned back the clock in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday in order to move forward toward the only accomplishment his historic career is missing.
Kershaw pitched six strong innings while Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts powered the offense as the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the World Series with an 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday at Arlington, Texas.
Kershaw (1-0) pushed aside his rocky playoff history to give up one run on two hits over six innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. He retired 13 consecutive Rays batters until Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer in the fifth.
Kershaw now has 201 career postseason strikeouts, moving past John Smoltz (199) and into second place all-time behind leader Justin Verlander (205). He is 12-12 lifetime with a 4.22 ERA in 36 playoff appearances, including 29 starts.
Now in his 10th postseason, one thing the Dallas-area native still does not have is a championship. The Dodgers are three victories away, and the first title could come near his hometown.
"It's awesome to get this series going with a win -- that's the biggest thing to get going with a win," Kershaw said on MLB Network. "It's always important to get that first game of a series and just for me personally it's awesome. To pitch well and get a win in the World Series, I'm just thankful for another opportunity."
Two days after his go-ahead home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, Bellinger gave the Dodgers an early Fall Classic advantage with a two-run shot in the fourth inning off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow (0-1). Betts hit his first postseason home run for the Dodgers in the sixth to open a 7-1 advantage.
The Dodgers' two home runs in Game 1 of the World Series came after they hit 16 in seven games of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
"I think when (Bellinger) hit the homer, it made (Glasnow) seem human," Betts said. "He was pumping in his fastball at 100 (mph), breaking ball was going, throwing changeups. He had it really going, but Belli really started it off and then after that we were able to put together some good at-bats."
In his first World Series start, Glasnow struggled with his control, giving up six runs on three hits and six walks in 4 1/3 innings. Three of those walks came around to score, including two in the Dodgers' four-run fifth inning. The Rays right-hander fanned eight.
"I felt a little weird in the beginning and I think I was just yanking off my (fastball)," Glasnow said. "I made the adjustment and I think in the third inning I started to feel pretty good. As the game went on, I think I was getting a little rushed, going forward too quick. But too many walks and not executing enough."
The Dodgers stole three bases in the fifth to match a World Series record for a single inning.
Betts led off the fifth with a walk and stole second base before Corey Seager walked. The pair then pulled off a double steal while Justin Turner struck out. Betts scored on a fielder's choice by Max Muncy, and Seager came home on a Will Smith single for a 4-1 lead. Smith's hit knocked Glasnow from the game.
Chris Taylor and pinch hitter Enrique Hernandez added RBI singles in the fifth as the Dodgers took a 6-1 advantage.
The lead swelled to 8-1 in the sixth on Betts' home run to right field and an RBI double from Muncy.
With Kershaw out of the game, the Rays tried to claw back in the seventh inning as Mike Brousseau and Kiermaier delivered RBI singles off Dodgers left-hander Victor Gonzalez. The threat was halted when Gonzalez snagged a line drive from Mike Zunino and turned it into a double play by getting Brousseau off the bag at second.
"Look, we have to be encouraged that we had good at-bats (in the seventh)," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "(Zunino) smoked that ball and I don't even understand how Gonzalez even caught it. You never know, but we had some good at-bats against Gonzalez."
The Dodgers improved to 3-1 in series openers this postseason, while the Rays are 2-2 in Game 1s. Los Angeles also won the opener of the 2017 World Series 3-1 against the Houston Astros before falling in seven games.
A year later, Betts' Red Sox defeated the Dodgers in five games to win a championship.
Betts said of his new team, "The thought was that maybe there would be a little carryover effect from all the emotions we went through, the highs and lows of the last series. But I think everybody knows why we're here, to win a World Series, and that's what we proved today."
--Field Level Media