CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s still not clear what Manuel Margot was thinking when he tried a straight steal of home Sunday night in the fourth inning. It’s not like this was some regular-season game in early August. This was the Game 5 of the World Series.
Maybe he was still feeling the rush from Tampa Bay’s ninth-inning walk-off win over the Dodgers on Saturday night when LA’s closer Kenley Jansen allowed a game-tying single to little-used Brett Phillips and then watched as errors by center fielder Chris Taylor and catcher Will Smith allowed the Rays to win, 8-7, on a continuation of the same hit.
The win tied the series, 2-2, but Margot’s decision went along way to untie it as the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead with a 4-2 win in Game 5. They can clinch their first World Series since 1988 with a win on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field.
The Rays were in an aggressive mood Sunday night. After Randy Arozarena singled home Tampa’s second run in the second inning, he tried to advance to second on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out by catcher Austin Barnes.
It was reminiscent of a long-ago day at Fenway Park when the Indians made several baserunning blunders. After the game manager Pat Corrales offered no defense for his players. He simply said, “We ran until they tagged us out.”
Five things to ponder about Game 5 of the 2020 World Series.
No. 1: To catch a thief
The Dodgers held a 3-2 lead when lefty Clayton Kershaw walked Margot to start the fourth inning. Margot stole second and went to third on an error by Taylor, who started at second base. When Kershaw walked Hunter Renfroe, the Rays had runners on the corners with no outs and a chance to tie or take the lead.
But Kershaw retired Joey Wendle on a pop up and struck out Willy Adames. That’s when Margot’s feet got the better of him. With Kevin Keirmaier at the plate and Kershaw, facing first base because he’s a lefty, starting his delivery, Margot broke for home.
First base Max Muncy yelled to Kershaw that Margot was stealing. Kershaw, keeping his cool, stepped off the rubber to avoid being called for a balk and threw to Barnes. Margot was called out by plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Margot wanted the Rays bench to review it, but after the Rays checked the video and said forget about it.
That was the last threat the Rays mounted.
“I always tell my first baseman, if they break you have to say something,” Kershaw told reporters after the game. “I just know now to step off fast and throw it. It’s something that doesn’t happen a lot, but it has happened before and I’m prepared for it.”
Brad Fullmer of the Angels is the last player to steal home in the World Series. He did it on the back-end of a double steal in 2002 against the Giants. The last player to be tagged out on an attempted steal of home in the World Series was Minnesota’s Shane Mack in 1991 against the Braves. Fox announcer John Smoltz, who was doing Sunday night’s game, was on the mound when it happened.
No.2: History of 3-2 leads in the World Series
This is the 68th time a team has held a 3-2 advantage in the World Series. In the 67 previous times, the team with a 3-2 lead has won the series 44 times (65.7%). Twenty five of those 67 teams (37.3%) have gone on to win Game 6. It has happened in seven of the last 15 occurrences.
No. 3: Clayton Kershaw walks into the postseason light
Kershaw improved to 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in the World Series and 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA in the postseason this year. He seems to be finally shedding the ghosts of postseason pasts.
Sunday night he allowed two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He needed two pitches to retire the first two batters he faced in the sixth inning before manager Dave Roberts removed him. Roberts was criticized for taking Julio Urias out of Game 4 after just 4 2/3 innings, but it didn’t stop him from giving the hook to Kershaw.
Kershaw agreed with his manager’s decision.
“Tonight was a grind,” Kershaw told reporters. “I didn’t have my stuff like I did in Game 1. My slider wasn’t nearly as good as it was.”
Kershaw, who struck out six, has a record 207 strikeouts for his postseason career. He is 13-13 with a 4.19 ERA in 37 postseason appearances, including 30 starts.
The Dodgers gave Kershaw an early lead on Corey Seager’s RBI single in the first and Joc Pederson’s leadoff homer in the second. Its was Kershaw’s 19th RBI of the postseason, tying him for second place on the all-time list with Sandy Alomar Jr., David Ortiz and Scott Spezio.
No. 4: An alternate closer for the Dodgers
Jansen couldn’t slam the door on the Rays on Saturday night in Game 4. On Sunday night, Roberts handed the ball to Blake Treinen in the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead. He allowed a leadoff single to Margot, but struck out Austin Meadows, retired Wendle on a fly ball to center and struck out Adames for win and the save.
This postseason Treinen is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in 11 games. Sunday’s save was his first of the postseason. He’s struck out 10 and walked one in 11 1/3 innings, while allowed six earned runs.
This is Treinen’s first year with the Dodgers. He spent the previous three years with the A’s. In 2018 he went 9-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 38 saves for Oakland.
Sunday was a good night for the Dodgers and Rays’ bullpens. Devin May, Victor Gonzalez and Treinen followed Kershaw with 3 1/3 scoreless innings. They allowed two hits and one walk.
Tampa Bay relievers Aaron Loup, Diego Castillo, Ryan Sherriff and Ryan Thompson pitched four scoreless innings after Tyler Glasnow allowed four runs on six hits in five innings. The relievers did not allow a hit.
No. 5: Let’s not forget Brett Phillips
Phillips, who came off the bench to give the Rays their Game 4 victory on Saturday, was so excited after his game-winning hit that he started hyperventilating in the locker room.
“During the celebration, just exhausting a lot of energy, and I almost passed out,” he told reporters before Game 5. “I didn’t realize I was dehydrated, I had to get an IV — first time, getting an IV. When I went to the training room, my resting heart rate was over 140 just laying there. The trainers were like, ‘We’ve got to chill you down. Chill out.’ But it was all worth it. Just a little hyperventilation going on inside me.”
Phillips received more than 500 text messages after the Rays win on Saturday. He said he stayed up until 4 a.m. answering them at the team hotel.
“That’s something I put a lot of passion into, thanking everyone that supported me,” he said.
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