ARLINGTON, Texas — Since Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland’s Tony Phillips for the final out of the 1988 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers have played 5,014 regular-season games and 113 more in the postseason in pursuit of their next title. They have spent $3.69 billion in player payroll over 32 seasons.
One more victory and that elusive seventh championship will be theirs.
“It’s definitely a generational (potential) win for this group of guys and I’m thinking of the Kenley Jansens, the Clayton Kershaws, the Justin Turners, the guys that have been here through all the division titles,” Hershiser — now a broadcaster — said Monday, looking ahead to Tuesday’s Game 6 of the best-of-seven World Series. The Dodgers lead Tampa Bay 3-2.
Kershaw got his second victory of the Series on Sunday, and rookie Tony Gonsolin starts Game 6 against the Rays’ Blake Snell.
Snell, a former standout at Shorewood High School in Shoreline, won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award.
More recently, left-hander Snell is 2-2 with a 3.33 earned-run average in five starts this postseason.
“I’m pretty excited,” Snell, 27, said. “It’s going to be a game that we have to win. I’m excited that I’m in a position that I can pitch Game 6. … That’s a tough team over there, and we’re gonna have to keep playing really, really good baseball.”
Snell gave up two runs in 42/3 innings in Game 2 against the Dodgers on Wednesday after taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
“It’s tough because they’re gonna make adjustments,” Snell was quoted as saying about the Dodgers on MLB.com. “They’ve seen me, so they’re going to make adjustments to what they just saw; I’m going to make adjustments to what I saw. I’m gonna have my game plan, they’re gonna have their game plan. I’ll make adjustments throughout the game.”
Of Snell, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “He’s a heck of a pitcher. He really did a nice job the first game he threw, striking the breaking ball. He gets left and right out. He’s a really good competitor with top-end stuff. We’re going to have our hands full. But I like our guy, I think it’s going to be a close game, and the team that gets the big hit, makes the big play, is going to win.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he plans on formulating his lineup to guard against a short outing by Gonsolin followed by righty-lefty switches. He said he hopes Snell pitches aggressively.
“We just haven’t done a good-enough job of establishing that we’re going to get outs within the zone early in the count,” Cash said. “But the Dodgers do a tremendous job of seeing pitches, getting deep in the count, pretty fearless with hitting with two strikes.”
If Tampa Bay wins Tuesday, Walker Buehler would start Game 7 for the Dodgers on Wednesday and Charlie Morton would go for the Rays in the finale of the first World Series at a site in a neutral city.
Gonsolin was used as an opener in Game 2, allowing Brandon Lowe’s first-inning homer, lasting a mere four outs and taking the loss as the Rays won 6-4.
But Roberts said he views the 25-year-old right-hander as a traditional starter this time and hopes for five or six innings from him.
“It’s mostly an eye test because he’s shown that when he’s rolling, he gets lefties, righties out. When he’s not, you can see that he’s not on point,” Roberts said. “I think for me, it’s just let Tony go until he’s not being as effective as we feel he should be.”
Los Angeles, with a MLB-leading payroll of $95.6 million in the pandemic-shortened season, has outplayed the low-budget Rays, 28th among the 30 teams at $29.3 million.
The Dodgers have outscored the Rays 29-21, outhit them .264 to .228 in average and outhomered them 11-8 with an offense led by Corey Seager (.471, two homers, four RBI), Max Muncy (.389, six RBI) and Turner (.364). Seager is the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
While Manuel Margot (.400), Kevin Kiermaier (.375, two homers, three RBI) and Randy Arozarena (.333, two homers, three RBI) have produced for Tampa Bay, Austin Meadows (.154), Joey Wendle (.133) and ex-Mariner Mike Zunino (0 for 13) have struggled. Lowe (3 for 21, three homers, six RBI) has been erratic.
Mookie Betts is 5 for 22 (.227) but has sparked the Dodgers with superior defense and four stolen bases — three shy of Lou Brock’s World Series record. After beating the Dodgers with the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 Series, Betts was acquired by Los Angeles in a trade in February of this year and signed a $365 million contract through 2032.
“We got a steal,” Roberts said. “And I’m just so grateful that the deal was done because it’s not only helping us this year, it’s going to help us for the next wave of young players and really enhance what we have as a culture going forward.”