Sports Simulated World Series: Dodgers stage epic comeback vs. Rays in Game 3 slugfest
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How will this year's World Series play out? Using the, USA TODAY Sports' Steve Gardner and DLB designer Mike Cieslinski will pre-play each game to provide some insight into the key matchups and strategy fans can expect to see in the Fall Classic. (Last year's Sim Series had the .)
Game 3: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Evoking memories of the all-time greatest World Series slugfests, Corey Seager's solo home run in the top of the 10th inning lifted the Los Angeles Dodgers to an improbable and incredible 13-12 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of USA TODAY's annual Simulated World Series.
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Rick Renteria just guided the White Sox to a 35-25 record and first playoff appearance since 2008. But that wasn't enough to save his job.That doesn’t erase the ugly lens through which baseball views him:
The Dodgers now lead the best-of-seven series two games to one.
(The 25 runs scored equals the second-highest total ever in a World Series game -- matching theand . The World Series record is 29, in the .)
What was expected to be a pitcher's duel between the Dodgers' Walker Buehler and the Rays' Charlie Morton never materialized as both starters were gone by the fourth inning after giving up five runs apiece.
The Rays seemed to have things in hand early after erupting for six runs in the fourth off rookie left-hander Victor Gonzalez. Brandon Lowe's three-run homer and Willy Adames' two-run double were the big blows as Tampa Bay took an 11-5 lead.
How to watch Dodgers vs. Braves: MLB playoffs live stream, schedule, TV channel, start time for NLCS Game 1
Los Angeles and Atlanta, the National League's two top teams, begin a best-of-seven series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.It's the fourth trip to the NLCS in five years for the Dodgers, who reached the World Series in 2017 and 2018. The Braves meanwhile, are here for the first time since 2001.
However, the Dodgers struck right back in the top of the fifth against Rays' lefty Josh Fleming with homers by Max Muncy and Justin Turner.
After the Rays tied the game on Yandy Diaz's RBI single in the seventh, both bullpens finally settled things down, setting the stage for some late-inning heroics.
Pinch-hitter Edwin Rios nearly put the Dodgers ahead in the top of the ninth, but his fly ball to deep center field off Rays closer Nick Anderson died on the warning track. In the bottom of the ninth, Joey Wendle was hit by a pitch but was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Seager finally got to Anderson (0-1) with a 365-foot home run to right field to put the Dodgers on top, but the Rays mounted one last charge against closer Kenley Jansen. Manuel Margot had an infield single with one out in the 10th and stole second base. But Jansen struck out Brandon Lowe and retired Randy Arozarena for the final out on a fly ball once again to the warning track in deep center field to earn the save.
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What to watch in (the actual) Game 3
– Star Seager: NLCS MVP Corey Seager continued his red-hot hitting in the postseason with a pair of home runs, four runs scored and four RBI. He gave the Dodgers a working margin in the second inning with his two-run shot off Rays starter Charlie Morton. He also singled in a run as part of the game-changing fifth-inning rally. And then he provided the game-winning blast off almost untouchable Rays reliever Nick Anderson in the 10th. (He also walked in the first and singled in the fourth.) For the series, Seager is hitting an even .500 with a .571 on-base percentage.
– Nick gets nicked: Anderson gave up one earned run in the entire regular season (0.55 ERA) but has been shaky in the playoffs. He nearly allowed a go-ahead homer in the ninth before giving up Seager's solo shot in his second inning of work.
How to watch Rays vs. Astros: MLB playoffs live stream, schedule, TV channel, start time for ALCS Game 3
The Tampa Bay Rays lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven ALCS against the Houston Astros, with Game 3 on Tuesday night in San Diego.Manuel Margot was the hero for Tampa Bay in Game 2, hitting a three-run homer and making a stunning catch in the 4-2 win. But the Rays managed just four hits in the game and needed their bullpen to work four innings, further stressing a staff that has been used heavily up to this point.
– Big bullpen choices: With Game 3 being the first of three games on consecutive days, the two managers will need to take future availability into consideration when they deploy their relief pitchers. If their starters exit early, we may see some questionable decisions on bullpen usage.
That was certainly the case in Sim Series Game 3. The Dodgers hoped Gonzalez could make it through the fourth, even after Lowe's three-run shot, but he ran into more trouble with two outs and gave up two more runs on Adames' double.
The Rays had the same thing happen with their rookie lefty, as Fleming got two quick outs in the fifth after Muncy's homer, but allowed three consecutive singles in front of Turner's go-ahead blast.
– Platoon disadvantages: Based on regular-season stats, both of these teams have several players with reverse platoon splits – which can result in managerial moves that may seem to be counterintuitive at first glance.
The Dodgers' Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts, for example, both hit .200 against left-handed pitchers in 2020. And Betts had no homers vs. southpaws all season. That's why Fleming (.212/.272/.376 vs. right-handed batters) remained in the game to face those two, plus Turner, in the fifth inning.
The same holds true for the Rays' Lowe, a left-handed hitter who posted a ridiculous .300/.417/.720 slash line against lefties during the regular season. Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler was also slightly better against left-handed hitters this season (.552 OPS vs LH, .658 vs. RH), so look for the Rays to start Yandy Diaz at first base instead of lefty-swinging Ji-Man Choi. Diaz hit .325 with a .419 OBP this season against righties.
Carlos Correa's walk-off homer keeps Astros alive in ALCS vs. Rays
Carlos Correa's home run in the ninth inning gave the Astros a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Rays.They know the baseball world will never forgive them.
– Catching questions: With the 28-man rosters for this year's playoffs, it's hard to understand why neither team is carrying a third catcher. The situation became acute for the Dodgers in Game 3 when starting catcher Austin Barnes was ejected for arguing a call in the bottom of the fourth inning and DH Will Smith had to take over behind the plate.
The Dodgers lost their DH spot and had to send up a pinch-hitter in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings when the pitcher's spot came around. If Barnes is starting (he's better than Smith defensively), there could be many more situations where a pinch-hitter might be a better option in a close game. Not having a third catcher on the roster limits the Dodgers' ability to make that move.
Similarly, the Rays only have two catchers in Mike Zunino and Michael Perez. Zunino is dreadful vs. left-handers (.045/.160/.182 during the regular season). However, Perez has no power and is worse defensively.
Previous 2020 Sim Series results
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Simulated World Series: Julio Urias untouchable as Dodgers push Rays to the brink .
Left-hander Julio Urias hurls a three-hit shutout and Corey Seager homers again as the Los Angeles Dodgers blank the Tampa Bay Rays to take a 3-1 Sim Series lead.Game 4: Los Angeles Dodgers vs.