LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Dodgers earned their seventh championship in franchise history on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. And, looking back on how the game played out, they may have Rays manager Kevin Cash to thank.
Cash’s decision to pull starting pitcher Blake Snell in the sixth inning appears to have been the opening the Dodgers needed to make their comeback and seal the victory.
Through five innings of work, Snell was cruising on Tuesday night. He had given up just one hit while striking out nine and had not walked a batter. The sixth inning started with Snell getting A.J. Pollock to pop out before then allowing a single to Austin Barnes.
The Rays, who are one of the most analytically inclined teams in baseball, have rarely allowed pitchers to make a third trip through the lineup because the data shows that hitters often hit pitchers harder when seeing him a third time in a given night. Snell, a former Cy Young winner, hadn’t completed six innings of work in any game this season.
And yet, he had thrown just 73 pitches to that point with the top of the Dodgers lineup coming up. Despite having recorded six strikeouts against Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner, Snell was pulled.
What happened next? Betts doubled off of reliever Nick Anderson. Barnes scored on an Anderson wild pitch and then Betts scored on a fielder’s choice by Corey Seager. Just like that, 2-1 Dodgers. It’s all the scoring they would need to shut things down.
“Didn’t want Mookie or Seager seeing Blake a third time,” Cash said after the game. “There was no set plan. As much as people think, there’s no set plan.”
Still, even Betts himself after the game said that he was thrilled they pulled Snell out of the game when they did.
“I was like, ‘whew, thank you.'” Betts said in an interview on MLB Network. “He was rolling. He was pitching a fantastic game. I’m not exactly sure why (he was pulled), I’m not gonna ask any questions. I’m just gonna be happy that we’re winners.”
Cash’s decision to pull Snell drew plenty of reaction from the sports world, questioning the decision.
I’m still in shock. How do you take Blake Snell out of this game? I don’t care what the analytics say. Manage with FEEL for me ONE time.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) October 28, 2020
Surprised a dance party didn't break out in the Dodgers' dugout when Blake Snell was pulled from the game.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 28, 2020
Blake Snell should publicly demand a trade next time he is on Twitch
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 28, 2020
I've spent my entire life waiting for the Dodgers to win the World Series and I actually feel *bad* about what just happened with Blake Snell.
— eric nusbaum (@ericnus) October 28, 2020
Snell was clearly unhappy in the moment and after the game said he was disappointed he got pulled when he did.
“Definitely disappointed, upset. I don’t know. I just want the ball. I felt good. I thought I did everything I could to improve my case to stay out there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be tough. I know it’s the third time through the lineup but I think I’m going to make the adjustments I need to make as I see them a third time. I just believe in me.”
There’s no telling what would have happened had Snell remained in the game. But one thing is for sure: the Dodgers are happy that he didn’t.