Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers left the Tampa Bay Rays stuck in neutral to start a most strange World Series played amid the pandemic.
A crowd limited by the coronavirus to 11,388 at Globe Life Field, the new $1.2 billion US home of the Texas Rangers, marked the smallest for baseball’s top event in 111 years.
Kershaw, a regular season star with an erratic post-season history, looked like the ace who so often stars on midsummer evenings with the San Gabriel Mountains behind him at Dodger Stadium. With these games shifted, the 32-year-old left-hander wound up pitching not far from his season home in Dallas.
The three-time CY Young Award winner allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight and walked one. He induced 19 swings and misses among his 78 pitches — more than his three previous Series starts combined. He threw nine balls in the first, when he stranded a pair of runners, then threw just nine more over the next three innings.
Kershaw retired 13 in a row before his only mistake, a fastball Kevin Kiermaier pulled for a home run in the fifth inning that cut the Rays’ deficit to 2-1. The five-time ERA champ improved to 2-2 in the World Series and 12-12 in post-season play, a shadow of his 175-76 regular season record.
Game 2 is Wednesday night. The Dodgers, who posted the best record in the majors during the shortened season and showed off all their stars in Game 1, plan to throw a collection of relievers against Rays ace Blake Snell.