ARLINGTON, Texas -- Appearing in their third World Series in four years, the Dodgers got off to a powerful start Tuesday night, running up the score 8-3 over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Dodgers hitters opened up the lead through the middle stretch, scoring in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings as Clayton Kershaw pitched six effective innings for the National League champions. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out eight and walked one. He is in line for his second Series victory in five starts.
Despite a checkered playoff resume, Kershaw is climbing the leaderboard for postseason dominance. He passed John Smoltz for second on the list with strikeout No. 200 and then added one more before his night ended. He could catch Justin Verlander at 205 before the end of the Series.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash tried to stick with his starter, and it didn't work out for Tyler Glasnow. The Rays' 6-foot-8 starter was pulled in the fifth inning after a career-high 112 pitches as the Dodgers stretched their lead to 6-1.
After three-and-a-half scoreless innings, Cody Bellinger's two-run homer gave the Dodgers the 2-0 lead in the fourth.
The 2019 NL MVP connected on the first pitch he saw from Glasnow in the fourth, driving a 98 mph fastball over the right-center fence. Max Muncy was aboard after drawing a leadoff walk and advancing to second on Will Smith's groundout to third.
It was the fastest pitch Bellinger has hit for a home run in his career, according to MLB.com.
After rounding the bases, Bellinger and his Dodgers teammates played it safe and celebrated with toe taps rather than emphatic high-fives. Bellinger knocked his right shoulder out of whack -- again -- when he and Kiké Hernández banged forearms on a leaping high-five after Bellinger's tiebreaking homer in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against Atlanta on Sunday night.
There was some question if Bellinger's sore shoulder, which has popped out of place in the past, might affect his swing. Certainly didn't look that way when Bellinger launched his fourth homer of this postseason.
Mookie Betts hit a leadoff homer in the sixth inning, continuing a brilliant performance for the versatile star and helping the Dodgers boost the lead to 8-1.
Betts drove Josh Fleming's first pitch of the inning over the wall in right for an opposite-field homer. Max Muncy tacked on an RBI double later in the frame.
Betts also walked, stole second and third and scored on Muncy's bouncer to first in the fifth, sparking Los Angeles' four-run inning.
Los Angeles is seeking its first title since 1988. Tampa Bay has never won a championship. It lost to Philadelphia in 2008, its only prior Series appearance.
Due to the pandemic, the series is being played in Arlington, Texas, a neutral site that is home of the Texas Rangers. It is only a few miles from Kershaw's home in Dallas.
Before the game, the national anthem was performed by Pentatonix, a Grammy-winning a cappella group formed in Arlington, Texas, that did a prerecorded version that was played on the big video boards. A four-jet flyover followed.
Four frontline healthcare workers who are serving during the coronavirus pandemic were in center field for the ceremonial first-pitch ceremonies, getting a loud ovation. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave the call to "Play Ball!" from near the third-base dugout.
"It's time for Dodgers baseball," Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said in a prerecorded message shown just before the Dodgers took the field.
Globe Life Field has a capacity of 40,518, and Major League Baseball said it will be about 28% full during the World Series, like it was during the NL Championship Series. Fans were in socially distanced pods of four seats each, with unsold seats zip-tied together to prevent them from being used.
Every ticket available for the seven-game NLCS and all seven potential World Series tickets were sold. The NLCS averaged 10,835 paying fans.
It was a pleasant night for the first World Series game played in Arlington since 2011, when the Rangers played in their second consecutive World Series. There were clear skies and the temperature at first pitch was 82 degrees.
World Series Game 1: Dodgers open with 8-3 win over Tampa Bay Rays, strong pitching from Kershaw