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World Series Preview: The history between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers

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A rare meeting in 2019 sets the stage.

Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Since the Tampa Bay Rays came into existence, their meetups with the Los Angeles Dodgers have been few and far between. These teams have only played each other 17 times and made close to as many trades together as they have games played.

And yet, there are organizational similarities. The front office is run by the former Rays GM Andrew Friedman, who also brought over senior advisor Gerry Hunsicker. For a while there old pitching coach Jim Hickey was with the Dodgers as well.

On the field, there have been a total of 35 players to have suited up for both the Dodgers and the Rays over the past two decades with several notable players among them, including Fred McGriff and Hideo Nomo.

The first time these two teams met up was on June 10th, 2002 at Tropicana Field with Hideo Nomo starting for LA and Wilson Alvarez going to the mound for Tampa Bay.

The Dodgers decisively won the game, 10-5. Chris Gomez provided some of the offense for Tampa Bay, launching a solo homerun in the 5th inning; Randy Winn was 3-5 with a pair of doubles as well, plus a stolen base.

The Dodgers would take two of three in 2002, then Tampa Bay would take two of three in 2007.

The next matchup was in 2013, with the Dodgers sweeping the Rays in their first trip to Los Angeles. One of those losses came in stunning fashion as the Dodgers trailed 6-0 after six innings and then shocked the Rays, rallying and scoring four times to walk it off in the 9th.

The two teams met up again in 2016 for a pair of two game series at each team’s respective ballparks; they split both of the games in each series. They repeated the same in 2019 as they split both of their two games series once more.

Much of that 2019 Dodgers team remains today, including tonight’s starter for Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw. The Rays have faced the future Hall of Famer twice, once in 2013 and then again in 2019, with the Dodgers coming out victorious both times. Several other current members of the Dodgers pitching staff were also on the team when the Rays faced them including Dylan Floro, Adam Kolarek, Julio Urias, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Joe Kelly.

Overall, the Rays have a record of 7-10 over their 17 games against the Dodgers.

There have been several notable trades made between these two franchises as well with the first one being a deal in January, 2006 when Tampa Bay dealt a pair of pitchers, Lance Carter and Danys Baez, to LA for Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany. Then, a few months later, the Rays would deal Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall to LA for Dioner Navarro, Jae Seo, and Justin Ruggiano.

Those two trades were integral to the Rays success during their run to the postseason in 2008 and Edwin Jackson would go on to be featured in numerous trades over the years, including one that brought Matt Joyce to the Rays.

During the offseason immediately following the 2014 season, the Dodgers poached Andrew Friedman from the Rays front office and the two sides have made a myriad deals over the past several years, exchanging players such as Logan Forsythe, Sergio Romo, and Travis d’Arnaud.

Both Romo and d’Arnaud served with the Rays in high capacity roles, with the latter giving the Rays potentially one of their best seasons ever from a backstop and helping the team reach the postseason in 2019, before leaving a receiving a reasonable payday from the Atlanta Braves this past offseason.

That all brings us to today. A smattering of games, many more players shared, and otherwise not much history at all. But there’s more to this story to be written, and that begins tonight. Game one of the World Series is at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Go Rays.