Long relief: Dodgers end 32-year title drought

Dodgers win first World Series since 1988 after beating Rays in Game 6. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Los Angeles has officially transformed into Titletown.

For the second time in October, the city claimed a major sports championship as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series. Of course, the LeBron James-led Lakers already brought home the NBA title after topping the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

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The Dodgers triumph ends a 32-year championship drought for one of MLB’s most decorated franchises. Not since Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser became postseason legends in 1988 has the team’s season culminated with a celebration. It some ways, the wait felt a lot longer. Probably because the Dodgers have fallen short time and time again since becoming perennial World Series contenders in 2013. Now, all of that built up pain and frustration can give way to jubilation.

Of course, completing the task wasn’t easy. Rays’ starter Blake Snell had them baffled once again, striking out nine — raising his World Series total to 18 — while allowing just two hits through 5 1/3 innings. However, a stunningly early hook by Rays manager Kevin Cash gave Los Angeles the opening it needed to strike.

Mookie Betts, who many believed would be the difference maker for Los Angeles in 2020, once again showed us why. He greeted reliever Nick Anderson with a one-out double that put the Dodgers series-winning sixth-inning rally in motion. After a wild pitch scored the tying run, Betts raced home with the go-ahead run on Corey Seager’s grounder to first.

Oh, but Mookie wasn’t done. One minute it’s his baserunning that has everyone buzzing. The next minute it’s his power that’s putting a stamp on the 2020 season.

After faltering multiple times in October, the Dodgers bullpen closed on the highest possible note. Manager Dave Roberts successfully remedied their shortcomings by aggressively using starters in relief roles. In Game 5, Dustin May recorded five huge outs. In Game 6, Julio Urias recorded the final seven to close out the series.

Overall, the Dodgers used seven different pitchers to record 27 outs. Starter Tony Gonsolin only got the first five. He allowed one run — Randy Arozarena’s record 10th postseason home run.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

Kevin Cash’s decision to pull Blake Snell will be talked about for a long, long time.

Blake Snell’s reaction to getting pulled will be talked about just as long.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Dodgers can celebrate a championship that will resonate for generations to come. Not only did this Dodgers team end over three decades of waiting, it culminated eight seasons of dominance that had been soured by disappointment. It rewrote narratives, reshaped the legacies of Clayton Kershaw and other members of this core, and made the pain of consistently falling short vanish, at least temporarily.

As for the Rays, it's another disappointing ending after such a promising season. On the plus side, this organization has consistently displayed an ability to get the most out of its limited resources. On the down side, the margin for error will remain slim with the New York Yankees and emerging AL powerhouses like the Chicago White Sox building for long-term success. The trump card might be Randy Arozarena. He has shown us that anything is possible in baseball. Especially with the Rays.

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