Los Angeles Dodgers: The 2020 World Series Champs kicked-off the 2021 season pretty strong, beginning with a 13-3 record. But they have slowed down significantly, dropping 14 of 19, including just two wins in their last ten games. As a result, the Dodgers currently sit in 3rd place at 18-17, 2.5 games behind the surprising San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers are part of the most attractive rivalry in MLB alongside Fernando Tatis’s San Diego Padres. Dodger’s star Justin Turner said of playing the Padres, “We are getting 18 World Series Games this year.” The Padres and the Dodgers have faced each other seven times with the Dodgers winning 3 games. The rivalry is only heating up and will have more exciting moments throughout the season.
Anaheim Angels: The Angels have started the new season with a record of 15-18. They are currently in last place of the AL West, even after taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers this past weekend.
One of the most exciting players to watch–not only on Angels but all of baseball–is Shohei “Sho Time” Ohtani (photos by Getty Images). Ohtani had recently become the first pitcher since Babe Ruth to start a game while leading the MLB in home runs. Ohtani is batting .276/.326/.626 with 10 HR, 26 RBI, and 6 SB. On the mound, he is 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA, and has only allowed 1 HR and 5 earned runs in the 2021 season. There is no doubt that he is an electrifying player that will get the attention of many baseball fans.
After losing the World Series in both 2017 and 2018, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally won the World Series, 4 games to 2 over the Tampa Bay Rays, bringing the championship back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988.
The Dodgers ended the 32-year drought by winning the deciding Game 6 by a score of 3-1, with runs from Austin Barnes and Mookie Betts as well as a solo home run from Betts in the 8th inning. The winning pitcher was Victor Gonzalez for the Dodgers, and Julio Urias secured the save by retiring the final seven batters in a row.
Corey Seager was named the World Series MVP after batting .400/.556/.700 with 2 HR and 5 RBI, scoring 7 runs. Seager also won the NLCS MVP, becoming just the 8th player ever to win both LCS and World Series MVP awards in the same season, and the 2nd Dodgers player after Orel Hershiser did the same thing in 1988.
Many criticized Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash when he took starting pitcher Blake Snell out of the game. Snell was dominating the Dodgers offense, striking out nine batters in four innings and allowing only 2 hits. Soon after Blake Snell was pulled out of the game, the Dodgers immediately came out on top, Betts eventually scoring the go-ahead run to win the game.
•Justin Turner Positive for Covid-19
In one of those “Only in 2020” moments, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled out of the game after the seventh inning. Many fans feared that he had an injury and were worried. Turner had actually tested positive for Covid-19 during the game. That’s not what really sparked controversy though–everyone was worried as he was seen celebrating with the team after testing positive, and even appearing in the team photo to the left of the trophy. Shortly after the game, Turner wrote the following on Twitter:
On Friday, November 6, Major League Baseball announced that Turner would not receive any punishment or discipline for breaking Covid-19 protocol. Turner also issued an apology and explanation for coming onto the field for team photographs, explaining that Dodger employees told him it was okay to go back onto the field.
•The NLCS Comeback
Before they won the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers had to do something they had never done before: After being down 3-1 in the NLCS, they forced a Game 7 and defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 4-3.
The Braves never lost the lead until Cody Bellinger hit a solo home run to allow the Dodgers to take the 4-3 lead for the first time in the 7th inning. The winning pitcher of the game was Julio Urias who came in during the 7th inning and then pitched three perfect innings, becoming the Mexican pitcher with the most career wins in the postseason.
The game was very intense as the Dodgers relied on their bullpen almost all game. Good defensive plays–like Justin Turner’s double play, and Mookie Betts’ robbery of a home run (below)–helped the Dodgers come out on top of the Braves. Kiké Hernandez also became the first batter to tie a Game 7 as a pinch-hitter with a big home run in the 6th inning.
The Dodgers had many important hits like Will Smith’s 2-run double; and both Bellinger’s and Kiké’s homers were done on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Corey Seager won series MVP despite going 0-5 in Game 7. He was important to the Dodgers in the series, as he had 5 home runs and 11 RBIs.
A lesson that should be learned is that it is not over ‘til it’s over, and the Braves fans found that out the hard way.
•An historic 11 runs in the first inning of the NLCS Game 3
The Dodgers not only had to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the pennant; they also faced a 2-0 deficit when game 3 of the NLCS began. But the Dodgers lineup was hot in the first inning of Game 3 when they scored 11 runs in the first inning–a major league record for any one postseason inning. The Dodgers got home runs by Edwin Rios, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy added a grand slam in the historic inning, putting the game away early.
Mexican pitcher Julio Urias went 5 strong innings, and along with the Dodgers offense, they managed to win Game 3 easily by a score of 15-3, which kept their hopes of winning the pennant alive. The Dodgers eventually became the first National League team to come back and win a series after being down 2-0 since the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals.