Don’t count out the Rays: After Dodgers dominate Game 1, Tampa Bay punches back

    Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for

ARLINGTON, Texas — In a game they had to win — as the Los Angeles Dodgers took their chances with a bullpen game — the Tampa Bay Rays finally came through at the plate, ruining any early thoughts of a Dodgers sweep in the World Series. The 2020 coronation of baseball’s best regular season team is on hold after the Rays’ series-tying 6-4 win in Game 2.

The difference-makers came from the left side of the batter’s box, a particular weakness for the Rays this postseason. Second baseman Brandon Lowe homered twice and drove in three runs, the same number third baseman Joey Wendle brought home. Coming into the night, Tampa Bay’s lefties had compiled a lousy .556 OPS in October.

The Rays won’t have it so easy at the plate in Game 3, when Walker Buehler takes the mound or when dynamic lefty Julio Urias spins it in Game 4, and then again whenever Clayton Kershaw and his slider see action next. But they may not have to score six or more come Friday. They have their own playoff ace going as Charlie Morton can match Buehler pitch-for-pitch — at least during games in the fall. He has a career 2.84 ERA in October.

So the Rays did what they had to, what they needed to and what they planned to when the Dodgers announced their pitching plans. Tony Gonsolin, Victor Gonzalez, Dustin May and Joe Kelly came up short in the dreaded bullpen game while breathing life into the Rays.

And now the Rays become the home team for the next three games. Series on.

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