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Dodgers make themselves at home in Game 1 of the World Series

Kershaw and Betts help Dodgers cruise

ARLINGTON, Texas – In a much safer time, the atmosphere would have been electric 1,421 miles away at Chavez Ravine. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, though, so the World Series was moved to the Rangers’ Globe Life Field, making visitors out of the National League champion Dodgers and American League champion Rays.

The Dodgers were technically the “home” team, so at least the legendary broadcaster Vin Scully was shown on the big screen before the first pitch declaring his signature line, “It’s time for Dodger baseball.” 

It sure was.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who grew up in Dallas a short drive from here, was at home in almost every sense Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series. Right fielder Mookie Betts was quite comfortable as well, helping the Dodgers rout the Rays 8-3.

The Dodgers, who are in their third World Series in four years, are now three victories away from their first title since 1988. 

Kershaw has already assured an eventual place among the immortals in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his postseason losses have taken some of the shine off his brilliant career. He entered Game 1 with a 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA over his previous four starts in the Fall Classic, allowing 16 earned runs over 26 ⅔ innings. 

He needed only 78 pitches while holding the Rays to one run on two hits with eight strikeouts over six innings before manager Dave Roberts pulled him with the Dodgers in firm control.

The Rays threatened with two runs in the seventh, but the Dodgers already had the game under control. The Dodgers have plenty of reason to be confident heading into Game 2 and beyond in the best-of-seven Series. There’s a special air of confidence with this squad after falling short in 2017 against the Astros and 2018 against Betts and the Red Sox.

“I mean, if we play at our best, no (the Dodgers aren’t beatable). I think we are the best team, and I think our clubhouse believes that,” Kershaw said. “So there’s gonna be certain times where we get beat, and that happens. But as a collective group, if everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing and playing the way they’re supposed to, I don’t see how that can happen.”

If Betts continues to play the way he did in Game 1, Kershaw will be proven correct. The former Red Sox star and American League MVP became the first player in World Series history to homer, steal two bases and score two runs in a game. 

Betts walked, stole second and third base to spark the Dodgers’ four-run fifth inning, joining Babe Ruth as the only players to walk and steal two bases in an inning during the World Series. 

Betts added his home run in the sixth, joining Chase Utley as the only players to homer and steal two bases in a World Series game.

“Superstar guy, superstar talent,” Cody Bellinger said of Betts, “but he continues to do the little things right, which you can always learn from.”

Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP, also qualifies as a superstar. He put the Dodgers on top for good with a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

The coronavirus pandemic has altered life throughout the world. Even at a neutral site, there is something uplifting about having the World Series to ease some of the sorrow.

There would have been more than 50,000 loud and proud Dodgers fans at Dodger Stadium under normal circumstances. Instead, the crowd of 11,388 was the smallest since 10,545 attended Game 6 of the 1909 World Series between the Pirates and Tigers. 

At least some folks could attend, though.

Most of the crowd followed the mask mandate. A few even wore blue, Dodger-themed luchador masks. Whatever it takes. Kershaw was at home, and so were the Dodgers at the start of the 2020 Fall Classic.

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