The first neutral-site World Series has the Dodgers and Rays both calling Arlington’s Globe Life Field home. And perhaps, in that spirit of sharing, it is only appropriate that the two clubs have alternated victories in the first five games of this best-of-seven Fall Classic.
But now that the Dodgers are on the doorstep -- returning to the last at-bat “home” rights with the chance to win their first Word Series title since 1988 in Game 6 on Tuesday night -- they are likely not in a sharing mood. They want to finish the mission amplified by the blockbuster acquisition of Mookie Betts in February and their stranglehold on the shortened 2020 regular season.
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“Let’s keep taking care of our business,” first baseman Max Muncy said. “The job’s not finished.”
Los Angeles can smell it, and Tampa Bay will Snell it. If the Rays are to push this to Game 7 on Wednesday night, they’ll likely need a strong start from 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who no-hit the Dodgers for 4 2/3 innings in his Game 2 start on Wednesday before running into trouble in the fifth inning.
"It's tough, because they're going to make adjustments,” Snell said. “They've seen me, so they're going to make adjustments to what they just saw. I know I'll have to make adjustments to what I saw.”
As was the case in that game, Snell is opposing Tony Gonsolin, though Gonsolin was essentially an opener in that Game 2 matchup and could be again. And with Tampa Bay facing elimination, manager Kevin Cash is sure to be aggressive with his use of a bullpen affectionately known as “The Stable.” And Dave Roberts is going to try like heck to nail this down, as Los Angeles would certainly like to avoid the whims of another Game 7.
History is on the Dodgers’ side. This is the eighth time in franchise history they have taken a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series. They’re 6-1 in the previous seven, with the only loss coming in the 1952 World Series. Of the six series wins, two came in Game 6 (1959 and '81 World Series).
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For all MLB teams, the team with a 3-2 lead in the World Series has gone on to win 44 of 67 previous times (65.7%).
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 6 will take place on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET, live on FOX. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
Who will be the home team?
The Dodgers, as the top overall seed, were the home team for Games 1 and 2, and the Rays were the home team for Games 3-5. For Games 6 and 7 (if necessary), Los Angeles will be the home team.
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What are the starting lineups?
Rays: Ji-Man Choi led off seven times during the regular season but will do so for the first time this postseason in Game 6. Though the righty Gonsolin is starting for the Dodgers, the Rays are staying with a balanced lineup to protect themselves from all the expected pitching changes during a bullpen game. A two-hit effort in Game 5 wasn't enough to earn Yandy Díaz the start at designated hitter, which goes to Austin Meadows instead.
1) Ji-Man Choi, 1B
2) Randy Arozarena, LF
3) Austin Meadows, DH
4) Brandon Lowe, 2B
5) Manuel Margot, RF
6) Joey Wendle, 3B
7) Willy Adames, SS
8) Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9) Mike Zunino, C
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Dodgers: It’s a rematch of Game 2 against Snell, whom Los Angeles chased after 4 2/3 innings but also spent too many swings chasing the lefty's pitches out of the zone for nine of its 15 strikeouts. Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor start at catcher and second base, respectively, while Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson will be ready off the bench. Although the Dodgers punished the Rays’ bullpen in Game 4, they went hitless against Tampa Bay relievers in the final four innings of Game 5.
1) Mookie Betts, RF
2) Corey Seager, SS
3) Justin Turner, 3B
4) Max Muncy, 1B
5) Will Smith, DH
6) Cody Bellinger, CF
7) Chris Taylor, 2B
8) AJ Pollock, LF
9) Austin Barnes, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rays: Snell will be tasked with keeping the Rays’ season alive. The left-hander had the best start by a Tampa Bay pitcher in this Series, allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings in the Game 2 win. The Rays will need more of the same -- plus another inning if he can deliver it -- out of Snell in Game 6 against a dangerous Dodgers lineup.
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Dodgers: Los Angeles again will start Gonsolin as it did in Game 2, when he allowed a home run to the second batter, Lowe, and lasted only 1 1/3 innings. Roberts said Gonsolin is a starter and not an opener for Game 6, and he expects the 26-year-old righty to go five or six innings.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rays: Though they’ve been used often in this Series, Monday’s off-day should help Tampa Bay's bullpen be rested for Game 6. Snell hasn't gone more than 5 2/3 innings in a start this season and Cash has proven to have a quick hook in order to prioritize matchups. Expect a heavy dose of Ryan Thompson, Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks.
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Dodgers: Roberts went to Blake Treinen for the Game 5 save and not Kenley Jansen, although he insists he trusts both in high-leverage situations and said the Dodgers want to run their bullpen based on matchups, not titles. The success of Dustin May and Victor González in Game 5 indicates they could see action as well.
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Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Rays: Facing elimination, everyone will be available out of the bullpen, including Ryan Yarbrough, who started Game 4 on Saturday.
Dodgers: After the off-day, everybody should be available, even Treinen after pitching in three consecutive games.
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Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Rays: If you think of a postseason record, Arozarena probably owns it now. With his third-inning RBI single on Sunday, Arozarena recorded his 27th hit of the postseason, passing Pablo Sandoval for the most all time in a single postseason.
Meadows and Adames continued their offensive struggles on Sunday. Meadows is now 6-for-48 (.125) in the postseason after going 0-for-2 on Sunday, and Adames is 8-for-55 (.145) after an 0-for-4 performance in Game 5.
Dodgers: Muncy has joined Seager and Turner in a formidable run of producers, and Betts hasn’t even gotten hot yet. But he did lead off Game 5 with a double that led to a two-run first inning and took the pressure off the Dodgers after their Game 4 loss.
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Anything else fans want to know?
Rays: This is the first time in franchise history that Tampa Bay has trailed a best-of-seven postseason series 3-2.
Dodgers: Muncy has 20 walks this postseason, tying Gary Sheffield (1997) for the second most in a single postseason and trailing Barry Bonds (27 in 2002).
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.
Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.