With the notion of jetlag out of the question, the Dodgers and Rays hope to go the extra mile on Friday when they play Game 3 at Globe Life Field.
The best-of-seven series is tied at one victory apiece.
Los Angeles right-hander Walker Buehler will get the nod on Friday, and he hopes his second career World Series start travels the same path as the first. He scattered two hits and struck out seven batters over seven scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 3-2, 18-inning win against the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2018 Fall Classic.
It was the only game Los Angeles won in that series.
“You feel lucky and blessed to be in these positions,” Buehler said of receiving the start in a high-pressure situation. “But at the end of the day, (the World Series) is kind of the expectation of this culture. If you’re going to be a part of that and be successful in it, you have to take that as it comes with yourself.”
Buehler, 26, has made himself at home in the spotlight, including fanning six over six scoreless frames in a 3-1 triumph against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The sterling performance boosted his strikeout total to 29 over four postseason outings in 2020.
Buehler has yet to face the Rays in his career, but Manuel Margot is 1-for-4 with a solo homer against him.
Although Los Angeles dropped a 6-4 decision on Wednesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his charges remain loose heading into a pivotal Game 3.
“Walking around a clubhouse, guys are ready to win a baseball game,” Roberts said. “You still understand the importance of every pitch, every game. But sometimes when you start to get so intense and bottled up, it starts to be a detriment. I really like how each of our guys (is handling the situation and) the state of mind that we’re in.”
While Randy Arozarena has been blistering hot in the postseason for Tampa Bay, teammate Brandon Lowe had been ice cold before belting a pair of homers on Wednesday.
“The biggest reason that makes us all believe is (Lowe has) shown over time that he’s a really good hitter, a really good player,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Sometimes guys, you have to allow guys to go through some tough patches, and he’s been in one. …
“He can go quiet for a little while, but he can get as hot as anyone in baseball. Hopefully that’s the trend we’re looking at going forward.”
Speaking of hot, the word is appropriate when describing the postseason career of right-hander Charlie Morton with the Rays. The 36-year-old has won all five of his starts in the playoffs with the club over the past two years while recording a minuscule 0.70 ERA.
In two previous World Series appearances, both for the Houston Astros against the Dodgers in 2017, Morton went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA. He sports a 3-0 mark with a 0.57 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in the 2020 playoffs.
Morton retired 14 batters in a row at one point en route to tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings against Houston on Saturday. His scintillating performance helped fuel the Rays to a 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
Morton is just 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts versus the Dodgers, in 2010 and 2015. Mookie Betts is 6-for-20 in his career vs. Morton.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)