The Dodgers have won their first World Series in 32 years and it’s because Rays manager Kevin Cash made a fatal error.
But how did we get here? Blake Snell, the Rays’ Game 6 starter on Tuesday night, was mowing down the Dodgers. Through 5.2 innings, he had given up just two hits and zero walks. Keep the guy in for eight frames, right?
Nope. Not Kevin Cash. In the bottom of the sixth with one out, Snell allowed a single to Austin Barnes and Rays manager Kevin Cash felt the need to pull the left-hander despite the fact he had thrown just 73 pitches. On the surface, Mookie Betts was coming to the plate, so that seemed problematic, right? Well, not really, because Betts was 0-for-4 vs Snell in this series with three strikeouts and a walk. Also, Betts has largely been unable to hit lefties.
Snell wasn’t happy, and Rays fans were probably equally furious when Cash called on Nick Anderson, who, statistically, has been the Rays’ worst reliever this postseason. The right-hander had given up a run in seven of his nine appearances this October, and he promptly made it eight of his last 10.
Betts cranked a double off Anderson to move Barnes to third. Then a slider got away from Rays catcher Mike Zunino, which scored Barnes to tie the game at 1-1. After Betts moved to third on that, a Corey Seager grounder to first scored Betts from third, and it was a 2-1 Dodgers lead. Just like that, the Rays’ momentum evaporated. Snell’s gem went down the tubes. And Cash had fully morphed into Dave Roberts.
Dodgers fans know this all too well with Roberts, whose pitching decisions in this very series nearly doomed LA. He took out Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 after just 78 pitches. He started Tony Gonsolin twice. He let Kenley Jansen try and close a game, and he failed. He gave Pedro Baez two high-leverage innings in the same game, and he failed twice. He took out Kershaw again too early for the fans’ liking in Game 5. Though some of these decisions worked out, they were viewed unfavorably, felt very wrong, and made each game a lot more tense and unnecessarily nerve-wracking.
And now here we are. That same decision-making from the opposing manager just gifted the Dodgers their first World Series in 32 years. We guess one could say one of Roberts’ best contributions this series was rubbing off on Cash. Talk about playing the long game.