LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Dodgers ended decades of heartbreak with their first World Series win since 1988 on Tuesday, a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington sealing the best-of-seven championship 4-2.
The Dodgers’ triumph at their third World Series appearance in four years closed out a shortened season in which the final three playoff rounds were held at four neutral-site locations in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Corey Seager was named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series. The Dodgers shortstop also won National League Championship Series MVP honors.
Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said finally clinching the championship was “surreal”.
“We’ve had our hearts broken so many times and this group has worked so hard,” he added. “There’s a ton of emotion.”
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled during the game and MLB later said he had tested positive for COVID-19. The players would undergo rapid COVID-19 tests when they returned to their hotel, ESPN reported.
“Thanks to everyone reaching out,” Turner tweeted.
“I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine.
“Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys. So proud of this team and unbelievably happy for the city of LA.”
Rays slugger Randy Arozarena gave his team the early lead when he sent a slider from Tony Gonsolin over the right field wall for a solo shot in the top of the first inning.
From there, Rays ace Snell took over, mowing down Dodgers hitters until he gave up a one out single to Barnes in the bottom of the sixth.
RAYS PULL SNELL
Then, in a decision that will no doubt haunt the Rays, manager Kevin Cash emerged from the dugout and pulled Snell out of the game despite the lefty only giving up two hits and no walks while striking out nine.
It did not take long for Cash’s decision to backfire as Mookie Betts doubled down the third base line off reliever Nick Anderson in the next at-bat, moving Barnes down to third.
Barnes scored on a wild pitch by Anderson that moved Betts to third, and the speedy Betts then beat the throw home on a ground ball by Seager to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
“It’s going to take a while to get over this,” said Snell.
Cash said he regretted the decision but thought it was the right move at the time.
Betts extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1 with a solo blast off Pete Fairbanks in the bottom of the eighth, leading to an eruption of joy among the Dodgers fans at Globe Life Park.
The 48,000-capacity stadium in Texas was allowed to have around 11,000 people attend the game.
The Dodgers, who employed a carousel of pitchers during the game, turned to lefty Julio Urias in the later innings and he was flawless, getting out all seven batters he faced, including a strike-out of Willy Adames that ended the series.
The Dodgers now have won seven titles, six of which have come since the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.
The triumph was sweet relief for the long-suffering Dodgers organization as well as Major League Baseball, whose season once appeared doomed by COVID-19 after the pandemic cancelled Spring Training in mid-March and delayed Opening Day by months.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez/Peter Rutherford)