No dogpile, no champagne and a mask on nearly every face — the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their first World Series title since 1988 in a manner no one could have imagined prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
They started the party without Justin Turner, too, after their red-headed star received a positive COVID-19 test in the middle of their clinching victory.
Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Tuesday night after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days and wasn’t initially on the field as the Dodgers enjoyed the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season.
Eichner told Halem the result was inconclusive. MLB receives many inconclusive results, so Halem told Eichner to run Tuesday’s pregame sample from Turner. That result came back positive in the sixth inning, the person said.
Halem called Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice-president of baseball operations, who was in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s box at Globe Life Field, then called Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Friedman notified the dugout or clubhouse, and Turner was removed from the game after the seventh inning.
Manfred confirmed Turner’s positive test moments after presenting the World Series trophy to Los Angeles — a jarring reminder of all that’s been different in this season where the perennially favoured Dodgers finally broke through.
Mookie Betts, who came to the Dodgers to make a World Series difference, had a mad dash to home plate in the sixth inning to put Los Angeles over the top.
The end of a frustrating championship drought for L.A. — and perhaps just the start for Betts and the Dodgers, whose seventh World Series title was their sixth since leaving Brooklyn to the West Coast in 1958.
“I had a crazy feeling that came to fruition,” Roberts said. “It’s just a special group of players, organization, all that we’ve kind of overcome.”
Betts bolted from third for the go-ahead run on Seager’s infield grounder, then led off the eighth with a punctuating homer.
“It was absolutely phenomenal. This team was incredible,” said Seager, also the NLCS MVP who had franchise records with his eight homers and 20 RBIs this post-season. “We never stopped. We were ready to go as soon as the bell was called. Once it did, we kept rolling. You can’t say enough about what we did this season.”
Kershaw was warming in the bullpen when Julio Urias struck out Willy Adames to end it and ran alongside teammates to celebrate in the infield, later joined by family who had been in the bubble with them in North Texas.
The Dodgers had played 5,014 regular season games and were in their 114th post-season game since Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland’s Tony Phillips for the final out of the World Series in 1988, the same year Kershaw — the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who won Games 1 and 5 of this Series — was born in nearby Dallas.
Los Angeles had come up short in the World Series twice in the previous three years. Betts was on the other side two years ago and homered in the clinching Game 5 for the Boston Red Sox, who before this season traded the 2018 AL MVP to the Dodgers. They later gave him a $365 million, 12-year deal that goes until he turns 40 in 2032.
Betts’ 3.2-second sprint was just enough to beat the throw by first baseman Ji-Man Choi, pushing Los Angeles ahead 2-1 moments after Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled ace left-hander Blake Snell despite a dominant performance over 5 1/3 innings.
“I’m not exactly sure why,” Betts said when asked about the move. “I’m not going to ask any questions. He was pitching a great game.”
Snell struck out nine — including the first time all season that Betts, Seager and Turner each struck out in their first two at-bats. But the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner didn’t see the top three batters in the Dodgers lineup a third time.
“The only motive was the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any team in the league,” Cash said. “Mookie coming around for the third time through, I value that. I totally respect and understand the questions that come with it. They’re not easy decisions.”
The Dodgers leadoff hitter had a .531 OPS against lefties this season, compared to 1.061 versus right-handers.
Randy Arozarena, the powerful Tampa Bay rookie, extended his postseason record with his 10th homer in the first off rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, the first of seven Dodgers pitchers. The Rays never got another runner past second base as LA’s bullpen gave reliever-reliant Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine while allowing only two hits and no walks over 7 1/3 innings.
The game ended when Julio Urias got the last two out Tampa Bay batters on called third strikes — the 15th and 16 Ks by the Rays, with catcher Austin Barnes stuffing the last pitch in his back pocket. Along with the 11 strikeouts by the Dodgers, it was the most combined strikeouts in a nine-inning World Series game.
Stephen Hawkins/The Associated Pres via CBC
With files from The Canadian Press