LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will get their first chance in 2020 to win their first championship since 1988 tonight when they face the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the World Series.
Since winning their last championship in 1988, the only other time the Dodgers were within one victory of a championship was in 2017, when they defeated the Houston Astros, 3-1, to win Game 6, tying the series at three games a piece. However, they lost Game 7, 5-1, as Yu Darvish, allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings in what would be his final game as a Dodger before signing a six-year, $126 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.
The Dodgers lead the best-of-seven series three games to two thanks to Sunday's 4-2 victory. Of the previous 67 times a team has taken a three games to two lead, it has gone on to win the Series 44 times, 65.7%.
Rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin is scheduled to start for the Dodgers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, against Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell in a rematch of the starters in Game 2, won by the Rays, 6-4, Wednesday.
“Try to not put more pressure on myself than there already is,'' Gonsolin said. “I'll try to go out there and throw the ball to the best of my ability. Nothing changes.''
Gonsolin was an “opener'' in Game 2, a starter intended just to pitch briefly before giving way to a reliever. However, manager Dave Roberts said he intends for Gonsolin to be more of a traditional starter on Tuesday.
“I hope to get five or six innings,'' Roberts told reporters on a Zoom call Monday, an off day in the World Series. “That would be great. I want him to go as long as he possibly can.''
Gonsolin pitched 1 1/3 innings in Game 2, allowing a solo home run to the second batter he faced, Brandon Lowe, the only run and hit he allowed.
The last time Gonsolin pitched at least five innings was Sept. 26, when he allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings in a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Gonsolin didn't pitch again until Oct. 13, when he made an emergency start in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series after the scheduled starter, Clayton Kershaw, was scratched because of back spasms.
Gonsolin allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three and being charged with the loss in an 8-7 loss.
Gonsolin's other postseason appearance came in Game 7 of the NLCS as the second of five Dodger pitchers, allowing two runs and two hits, including a homer by Dansby Swanson on his third pitch, in two innings, walking three and striking out one in two innings in the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
“Every outing I've had this postseason has been a learning opportunity for me. It's all new. It's on a much higher stage than the last time I was in a postseason,'' Gonsolin said, apparently referring to the 2018 Texas League playoffs where he helped the Tulsa Drillers win the championship.
“Just kind of controlling the emotions and still competing.''
This will be the first time since the Sept. 26 game against the Angels Gonsolin will be pitching on regular rest.
“I've had a lot of time to prepare and it feels like I'm back on like a normal routine like I had all season,'' Gonsolin said.
Gonsolin was 2-2 in nine appearances, including eight starts, in the regular season, limiting opposing batters to a .193 average. His 2.31 ERA was best in Major League Baseball among rookies pitching at least 40 innings.
Gonsolin was not part of the Dodgers' opening day roster after reporting late to “Summer Camp'' because of a positive coronavirus test, which he has said he believes was a false positive.
Gonsolin was first recalled from the alternate training site at USC July 31, eight days after the opener, optioned the next day, recalled again Aug. 12, optioned again Aug. 19 and recalled a third and final time Aug. 31.
On Monday, Baseball America, which bills itself as identifying “future stars of the game today,'' selected Gonsolin as its 2020 MLB Rookie of the Year, an award based primarily on rookie accomplishment, but that also includes consideration of the candidates' potential for future stardom.
“His combination of present performance and future outlook separated him from the field, if just barely,'' J.J. Cooper wrote.
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