Rays Clinch, Dodgers Force Game 7: Game Time, TV and Pitching Matchups for Sunday
For just the third time ever, both league championship series are going to a seventh game. There's no doubt that baseball's playoffs have delivered in this crazy 2020 season.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers struck early with three first-inning runs and beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in Game 6 to force a deciding game on Sunday night. (Game time and TV information below.)
The American League had its showdown on Saturday night, and it was the Tampa Bay Rays who snapped a three-game losing streak, winning 4-2 to win their second-ever AL pennant, and its first since 2008.
The Rays were tensed up after letting a 3-0 series lead slip away, but their nerves eased dramatically after a two-run homer by Randy Arozarena in the first inning.
"The last three days were pretty agonizing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We definitely added to our stress levels. That's a really good team over there. I would have rather gotten it done in Game 4 or 5 than in Game 7."
Veteran starter Charlie Morton was sensational, pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing just two hits. And their vaunted bullpen did just enough to close it out. Peter Fairbanks got the save, getting the final four outs on three strikeouts and a final lazy fly ball to right field to end the game.
It was a thrilling way to end it for the Rays, who have spent the last 16 days in the MLB bubble in San Diego. Now they head to Arlington, Texas for another bubble, this time for the World Series against either the Dodgers or the Braves.
"I feel bad that fans haven't been able to be at the parks," Morton said. "Our families haven't been able to see us unless they're in quarantine. My mom flew in from New Jersey, but I can only see her from 15 feet away. But the silver lining to this is, get to the postseason and it's just not the same. But I've looked across at the dugout and I know the guys that we're playing; they care, and they wanted to win, too.
"Probably more so this year than any other year, the motivation is doing it for each other. You adhere to protocols; you're social distancing from families at home. Telling their kids they can't hug them. This has brought out a level of humanity and empathy that you wouldn't see in a normal season."
But it's all been worth it. The reward? A trip to the World Series, which starts on Tuesday. (Schedule below)
With the Rays advancing to the World Series, reliever Aaron Slegers becomes the first former Indiana baseball player to reach the World Series since Kyle Schwarber did it with the Chicago Cubs in 2016.
Slegers was very good out of the bullpen for Tampa Bay in the ALCS. He pitched in two games and pitched a total of 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
Here's the remaining schedule and the series recaps:
NLCS: Braves vs. Dodgers
- Game 1, BRAVES 5, DODGERS 1: The Braves broke a tie in the ninth inning, scoring four times thanks to home runs from Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies to break the game open. The Dodgers, who had the best record in baseball this season (43-17), lost in the postseason for the first time after five straight wins. Starter Max Fried was great for Atlanta, allowing just one run and striking out nine over six innings. Three relievers pitched three hitless innings to grab the early lead in the series. (Atlanta leads series 1-0.)
- Game 2, BRAVES 8, DODGERS 7: Ian Anderson, a 22-year-old rookie, continued his consecutive scoreless innings streak and the Braves survived a ninth-inning scare to beat the Dodgers. Anderson pitched four stressful innings, walking five but not allowing a run. He's now gone 15 2/3 innings without giving up a run in the playoffs. Freddie Freeman was 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a homer and Ozzie Albies was 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. The Dodgers, who trailed 7-0 at one point, scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to make it interesting, but A.J. Pollock grounded out to end the game with a man on third. (Atlanta leads series 2-0.)
- Game 3, DODGERS 15, BRAVES 3: Right-hander Kyle Wright got pummeled in the first inning, allowing seven runs before getting yanked with just two outs in the inning. Los Angeles set a playoff record with 11 runs in the first, cruising to an easy victory. Dodgers starter Julio Urias was really good, going five innings and allowing just one run and three hits. (Atlanta leads series 2-1.)
- Game 4, BRAVES 10, DODGERS 2: The Braves bounced back nicely after that Game 3 blowout, beating Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to take control of the series once again. Marcell Ozuna had a huge night for the Braves, going 4-for-5 from the plate, with two home runs and four RBIs. Rookie pitcher Bryse Wilson was brilliant for the Braves, going six innings and allowing just one run and one hit all night long. It was an impressive performance for the 22-year-old, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 27. "That was 100 percent a dream come true, especially to do it against someone so established like Clayton Kershaw is,'' Wilson said. "I'm just glad I could help us get a win. I knew how important it was.'' (Atlanta leads series 3-1.)
- Game 5, DODGERS 7, BRAVES 3: The Dodgers won the battle of bullpens to stay alive. They used seven pitchers and allowed just one run and four hits over the final seven innings. Corey Seager was the hitting star for Los Angeles, clubbing two home runs. (Atlanta leads series 3-2.)
- Game 6, DODGERS 3, BRAVES 1: The Dodgers got first-inning home runs from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and cruised from there behind the pitcher of Walker Buehler, who threw six scoreless innings. Buehler did have to deal with a lot of traffic on the base paths, allowing seven hits, but he worked out of jam after jam. The Braves were just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base. (Series tied 3-3.)
- *** Game 7, Sunday 8:15 p.m ET, (TV: FOX): It's all or nothing in the NLCS, and the Braves are turning to Ian Anderson to close out this series. The 22-year-old rookie has been brilliant all season. He was 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA during the regular season, and in the postseason he's been perfect. In three starts, all team wins, he's pitched 15 2/3 scoreless innings and has allowed just six hits. "We're in a good spot," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I like the guy we're gonna pitch. Everybody can pitch. Everybody's available." The Dodgers aren't in the same boat. Manager Dave Roberts is still undecided on a starter, but it will certainly be all hands on deck. "There's a good chance (Game 2 starter Tony) Gonsolin will take down a bulk" of the game's innings. Gonsolin allowed five runs in the Game 2 loss. Roberts may use rookie reliever Brusdar Graterol early for an inning or two, and starters Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw might be used later in the game as well as situations dictate.
ALCS: Rays vs. Astros
- Game 1, RAYS 2, ASTROS 1: Blake Snell allowed only a first-inning home run, going five innings and then let the bullpen do its thing in Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over Houston. Snell struggled with his control, but kept working out of jams. Four bullpen pitchers threw four scoreless innings, allowing only three hits. The Rays tied the game in the fourth inning on a Randy Arozarena home run and won it on Mike Zunino's single in the fifth. (Tampa Bay leads series 1-0.)
- Game 2, RAYS 4, ASTROS 2: Manuel Margot hit a three-run home run in the first inning after an error and made a tremendous catch while falling over the wall to help Tampa Bay beat Houston, 4-2. Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. was really good, but was victimized by his own defense, which made two errors. He pitched seven innings and struck out 11. Charlie Morton got the win for the Rays, pitching five scoreless innings. Houston had plenty of chances to score, but left 11 men on base. (Tampa Bay leads series 2-0.)
- Game 3, RAYS 5, ASTROS 2: Tampa Bay took advantage of another Jose Altuve error and exploded for five runs in the fifth inning to break the game open. Ryan Yarbrough went five innings for the Rays to get the win, and the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings. For the third straight night, Houston squandered all sorts of scoring opportunities, leaving 10 men on base. (Tampa Bay leads series 3-0.)
- Game 4, ASTROS 4, RAYS 3: Jose Altuve hit another first-inning home run and George Springer hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to break a tie, as the Astros won to keep the series alive. Zach Greinke pitched six innings and allowed only two runs to pick up the win for Houston, beating Tampa Bay star Tyler Glasnow. (Tampa Bay leads series 3-1.)
- Game 5, ASTROS 4, Rays 3: Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Astros their second-straight win and keep the series alive. Houston survived a bullpen day by trotting out five straight rookie pitchers, and they got the job done, pitching a combined 6 2/3 innings and allowing only two runs. Nick Anderson, who allowed only one earned run all year over 16 2/3 innings, took the loss for Tampa Bay, (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2.)
- Game 6, ASTROS 7, RAYS 4: Houston evened the series thanks to a four-run explosion in the fifth inning. The game swung there after Rays starter Blake Snell allowed a walk and a single to the Nos. 8-9 hitters to start the inning, and got a quick hook. But the usually reliable Diego Castillo wasn't the answer, as four straight Houston hitters went single, double, walk single to blow the game open. Houston starter Framber Valdez went six innings and allowed just one one and three hits. (Series tied 3-3.)
- Game 7, RAYS 4, ASTROS 2: Veteran starter Charlie Morton was brilliant and ALCS Most Valuable Player Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer in the first inning as the Rays bounced back to take Game 7 and advance to the World Series for the first time since 2008. Morton pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits. Arozarena has seven postseason homers now, an MLB rookie record. The Rays are really clutch in all-or-nothing games. Tampa Bay won a winner-take-all game in the previous round, eliminating the New York Yankees. (Tampa Bay wins series 4-3.)
World Series Schedule
All games at Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, Texas. (TV: FOX)
- Game 1, Tuesday (Oct. 20), 8:08 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay will be lined up to start Tyler Glasnow on five days' rest in the opener.
- Game 2, Wednesday (Oct. 21), 8:08 p.m. ET: Blake Snell, who's been the Game 1 starter in the first three series, will be on full four days' rest for this one.
- Off day on Thursday (Oct. 22).
- Game 3, Friday (Oct. 23) 8:08 p.m. ET: Postseason hero would be lined up to start this game on five days' rest.
- Game 4, Saturday (Oct. 24) 8:08 p.m. ET:
- Game 5, Sunday (Oct. 25) 8:08 p.m. ET:
- Off day on Monday (Oct. 26)
- Game 6: Tuesday (Oct. 27) 8:08 p.m. ET:
- Game 7: Wednesday (Oct. 28), 8:08 p.m. ET