ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There's no more "we'll get them tomorrow." No more moral victories.
The Tampa Bay Rays have to win Game 6 of the World Series tonight -- or they'll lose out on their first championship banner.
The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 3-2 series lead with their 4-2 win over the Rays in Game 5 on Sunday. Tampa Bay will now have to pull out all the stops to send the World Series to a deciding seventh game.
The Rays will start by sending Blake Snell to the mound tonight. Snell took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of Game 2, which the Rays went on to win 6-4. But Snell has run into trouble on his third time through the lineup all season, so they have to hope he reverses that trend tonight. He's also had difficulty getting ahead in the count, which has run up his pitch counts and led to early exits in his postseason outings.
Tampa Bay hitters will have to rely on more than just the long ball to put runs on the board. Through five World Series games, the Rays have more home runs (eight) than hits with runners in scoring position (seven). They're hitting just .233 with RISP, while the Dodgers are hitting .282 (13-46) in the same situations. Timely hitting will be a must if the Rays want to bring the trophy home.
The Rays have the talent to get those timely hits -- they won Game 4 on a wild walk-off single from pinch hitter Brett Phillips, aided by two Dodger errors. So on top of the bats hitting to their potential, the Rays would benefit from some more luck, although another play like that one is not likely to happen.
Snell (2-2, 3.33 this postseason) will face off with Dodgers rookie Tony Gonsolin (0-2, 9.39). Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says Gonsolin will not act as an opener as he has for most of the playoffs, and Roberts expects him to go five or six innings.
Game 6 of the World Series starts tonight at 8:08 from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, with L.A. playing as the "home team." If the Rays keep their season alive, Game 7 will start tomorrow night at 8:09.
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