Walker Buehler Cruises, Austin Barnes Homers, Squeezes in Dodgers' 6-2 World Series Game 3 Win
Going into the 2020 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays appeared to have the starting pitching advantage. Yet the Los Angeles Dodgers have beat around two of those starters to take control in taking a 2-1 series lead.
Charlie Morton allowed only one earned run in his three previous starts this postseason. Justin Turner matched that with a first-inning homer, waiting on a fastball from Morton.
More frustrating for the Rays was how Los Angeles added three more runs.
With two outs in the third, Morton hit Corey Seager with a pitch, then allowed a double to Turner and two-run single by Max Muncy. In the fourth, the Dodgers had runners on first and third with no outs and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Barnes. Safety squeeze!
Meanwhile, Walker Buehler threw like his team’s best starting pitcher, freezing Rays batters with sliders and curveballs. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. Overall, Buehler notched 10 strikeouts with one walk and three hits allowed in a smooth six innings.
How are the Dodgers going to lose when they can do so many things to win a game? Barnes added a home run in the sixth. Mookie Betts stole two bases and drove in a run.
No, everything likely won’t go right for the Dodgers in the remaining games of this series. (And if Randy Arozarena's ninth-inning homer off Kenley Jansen means he's ready to heat up, that’s a problem.) But if it happens again in two of the next four games, the Boys in Blue will be hoisting up that piece of metal.
Julio Urias starts Game 4 for Los Angeles. He’s arguably been the Dodgers’ best pitcher besides Buehler in his four postseason appearances, allowing only one earned run with 16 strikeouts and three walks over 16 innings.
For the Rays, Ryan Yarbrough is expected to get the nod. He’s pitched five innings in two of his three 2020 playoff games, so he might not just be an opener. Without using key relievers in Game 3, Tampa Bay is set up for a bullpen game.
Considering how the Rays’ starting pitching has performed, that might be for the best.
Ian Casselberry watchdogs sports media for Awful Announcing. He’s covered baseball for SB Nation, Yahoo Sports and MLive, and was one of Bleacher Report’s first lead MLB writers. Please follow Ian on Twitter @iancass and give him a listen at The Podcass.