Less than 24 hours off their historic and endlessly memorable Game 4 victory, the Tampa Bay Rays took the field once again, looking to take go ahead in the series for the first time. The game was a rematch of the Game 1 starters, with Tyler Glasnow and Clayton Kershaw squaring off.
During the pre-game coverage, FOX noted that Glasnow and the Rays had watched film of his Game 1 start and decided that he had been over-rotating, leading in part to his six earned run outing five days ago.
At the start, it appeared that this note may have made no difference, as the Dodgers were up 1-0 before you could ask “does game-to-game momentum exist in the postseason?”
An eight-pitch at bat to Mookie Betts ended in a double, and then Corey Seager pulled one through the shift to give the Dodgers the early lead. With an RBI single already to his name, Seager continued his run of near-perfect baseball, getting to third via a pair of loose balls from Zunino that barely got away from him. The first time, it appeared as though Zunino may have recovered and thrown down in time to get Kyle’s Younger Brother, but the replay was not able to overturn to call on the field. An infield single from Cody Bellinger later in the frame would make that call costly, and send the Rays into an early 2-0 hole.
The Rays very nearly tied things up immediately in the bottom half of the first. Yandy Diaz got things started with a leadoff single, but Randy Arozarena missed YET ANOTHER homer by about five feet of distance of five feet of hook, just landing foul despite Randy’s best Carlton Fisk attempts. A pitch later, both runners were wiped out on a double play, with Kershaw getting out of the inning as a whole just one pitch after that.
In the top of the second, Glasnow gave up one of his now-apparently-obligatory home runs, with Joc Pederson mashing a towering long ball to left center to make it 3-0. A bunt single from Manuel Margot was wasted in the bottom half, and things were looking relatively dire.
Glasnow didn’t give up any runs in the third, but he still was struggling with his command—a theme all night.
Tyler Glasnow is the first pitcher in history with three wild pitches in a World Series game. It's the third inning.— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) October 26, 2020
(They weren’t all that brutal, but the stat IS representative of what Glasnow was doing.)
In the bottom half of the third, Kevin Kiermaier got things started with a leadoff single, the third straight inning with a leadoff baserunner for the Rays... and it finally paid off. Yandy burned Betts in right field, with a screamer down the line that brought home KK and allowed Yandy to get all the way to third. That proved key as Arozarena did Arozarena things right after, with an RBI single to break Pablo Sandoval’s record for hits in a postseason, as well as bring the Rays to within one. The Rays, however, let Kershaw off the hook with a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play right after that.
In the top of the fourth, Glasnow finally appeared to lock in, and in the bottom of the fourth, the Rays appeared to be doing their best Will Ferrell-John C. Reily impression. Slingshot engaged.
The Rays got yet another leadoff batter on—this time Margot drew the walk—and he instantly made it to third: stealing second and then scooting to third when the ball popped out. (The play was reviewed but just like the Seager play from earlier, there was not enough to overturn a super close call.) Unfortunately, the Rays spoiled the chance, with Joey Wendle popping out, Willy Adames waving at strike three (shocking), and then Margot getting caught stealing home in a move I actually really liked. It was the first unsuccessful attempted steal of home since John Smoltz was on the mound, not in the booth, but it took Kershaw making every move perfectly, and nabbing Margot by a hair. Of course, if there’s one pitcher in baseball you expect to kill that runner spot-on, it’s Kershaw.
In the top of the fifth, Kevin Cash decided to leave Glasnow in for a third time through the top of the order (apparently he didn’t remember Game 1), and Max Muncy made him pay with a MASSIVE dong, putting the Dodgers up 4-2 and instantly making the Rays regret their wasted chance in the last half inning.
Tyler Glasnow finished with a 99.5 mph avg exit velocity against him, the highest in any outing of his career (min 5 batted balls)— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 26, 2020
It’s the fastest avg exit velo against a pitcher in a postseason outing tracked by Statcast (since 2015), min 10 batted balls
The pitching took over from there. The two teams combined for one baserunner from the bottom of the fifth until the bottom of the eighth, with the most interesting action coming from the benches, as Dave Roberts and Kevin Cash continued what has been a hellaciously fun chess match all series. In the bottom of the sixth, Kershaw got a pair of one-pitch outs and was well below 100 pitches, but Roberts went to his bullpen to get Dustin May to handle the middle of the Rays lineup. This came MUCH to the dismay of the whole Dodger infield, but Kershaw himself seemed to understand (with a hug in the dugout), and the move simply had to be made. Playoff Kershaw is a thing entirely because he has too often been left out there—it took some stones from Roberts to pull him, and it worked out perfectly.
The Rays next real chance came in the bottom of the eighth when Kiermaier (who really has been outstanding this postseason) grabbed another leadoff single, and Mike Brosseau (who came up to bat after the two managers traded another pair of excellent chess moves) drew a one-out walk. However, Victor Gonzalez got Arozarena and Brandon Lowe to hit back-to-back fly outs to Cody Bellinger in centerfield, making Rays fans dream of the days when Chris Taylor was manning the position.
Ryan Thompson kept it a two-run margin in the top of the ninth, with Roberts turning to Blake Treinen to try to close out the Game 5 victory. Manuel MarGOAT got the instant leadoff single, but the Rays once again spoiled the leadoff runner, stranding him at first as the Dodgers took the all-important Game 5 victory, setting up a pair of quite-literal must win games for the Rays on Tuesday and hopefully Wednesday.