Dodgers confident in starter Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of World Series against Rays

A World Series like no other opens Tuesday night with Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers pursuing redemption as the Boys in Blue look to get their first championship since 1988.
ARLINGTON, Texas (KABC) -- A World Series like no other opens Tuesday night with Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers pursuing redemption as the Boys in Blue look to get their first championship since 1988.

Los Angeles -- baseball's biggest spender -- is back in the Series for the third time in four years, facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1. First pitch is at 5:09 p.m.

Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said there's something different about the team this year,

"I just think that we're ready for this moment," he said. "I think that you can see it, whether on the field, off the field, just kind of the way guys are talking, the way they're playing. They've learned some -- we've all learned some hard lessons and had to grow. And I just think that we're ready for this moment."

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This will be the fourth time in the Wild Card Era, which began in 1995, that the teams in both leagues with the best records will meet in the World Series. The Dodgers had the National League's best record during the coronavirus-shortened regular season, 43-17, while Tampa Bay had the American League's best record, 40-20.

The winner will give its city a 2-1 advantage in major U.S. sports league titles during the novel coronavirus pandemic following championships by the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning on Sept. 28 and the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 11.

The entire Series will be played on artificial turf for the first time since 1993, at new $1.2 billion Globe Life Field, home of a Texas Rangers team eliminated on Sept. 20. Traditional postgame victory celebrations are barred. But surroundings are largely irrelevant to the favored Dodgers and under-the-radar Rays. Attendance has been cut down to about 11,000 -- the smallest crowd for a Series game since roughly 1909.

This will also be the first time the entire World Series is being played at the same stadium since 1944, when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Browns in six games at Sportsman's Park, the home stadium for both teams.

The Dodgers will continue to host drive-in viewing parties for the World Series. Tickets, which went on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, cost $75 per car and must be purchased in advance for fans that want to watch the Boys in Blue chase the big title.

Roberts called it the "biggest of no brainers'' to have Kershaw start the World Series opener because of "the timing of things and how we use our starters, but also who he is and what he's done.''

"To have him start Game 1, something he's done before, just makes us feel that much better about it,'' Roberts said.

Kershaw was the Game 1 starter both of the last two times the Dodgers were in the World Series.

Kershaw was the winning pitcher in the 2017 opener, limiting the Houston Astros to one run and three hits in seven innings in a 3-1 victory. He was the loser in the 2018 opener, allowing five runs and seven hits in four innings in an 8-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

In his most recent start, Kershaw was charged with his first loss of the 2020 postseason following two victories, allowing four runs and seven hits to the Atlanta Braves Thursday in a 10-2 loss in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Kershaw is six strikeouts away from tying Hall of Famer John Smoltz for the second most in postseason history with 199. Justin Verlander is first with 205. Smoltz will be the analyst on Fox's telecast of the game.

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Kershaw will be facing a Tampa Bay lineup that had the 21st-best batting average among Major League Baseball's 30 teams in the regular season, .238, was 14th in home runs with 80, 11th in on-base percentage, .328, 15th in slugging percentage, .425, and 13th in on-base plus slugging, (the sum of the on-base percentage and slugging percentage) .753.

"Their pitching staff is what gets talked about a lot, but they've got a lot of guys on the offensive side that can make you pay if you make mistakes,'' Kershaw said.

Rookie Randy Arozarena has made each of the Rays' first three 2020 postseason opponents pay for their mistakes. He is first in the postseason in hits (21), extra-base hits (11), total bases (47) and runs (11).

Arozarena's seven home runs are one short of the record for the most in a single postseason, set by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants in 2002 and tied by Carlos Beltran of the Houston Astros in 2004 and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers in 2011.

Arozarena's 21 hits is one short of Derek Jeter's record for most by a rookie in a postseason.

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow will start for the Rays. He was 5-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 11 starts during the regular season and 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in the 2020 postseason.

Glasnow is coming off a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Wednesday when he allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings.

Glasnow has thrown 23 pitches at 100 mph or faster this postseason, the most among any pitcher, according to StatCast. Dodger rookie reliever Brusdar Graterol is second with 19.

Dodger center fielder Cody Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder by smashing forearms with teammate Kike Hernandez after Bellinger's tie-breaking home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series Sunday.

"I hit Kike's shoulder a little too hard, and my shoulder popped out, so I had to go back into the trainer's room and they popped it back in so I could go out and play defense,'' Bellinger told MLB Network. It kind of hurt.''

Bellinger told reporters Monday he felt fine.

"As I understand, I think he's still a little bit sore, it's a loose shoulder,'' Roberts said. How we handle it going forward is another question.

I think as far as right now, we're going to kind of tape it up. I know there's some braces they ordered, and I expect him to be in there (Tuesday) night.''

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.
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