ARLINGTON, Texas: No dogpile, no champagne and a mask on nearly every face – the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their first World Series title since 1988 in a manner no one could have imagined prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
They did it without Justin Turner, their red-headed star who received a positive test for COVID-19 in the middle of their clinching victory.
Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Tuesday night after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days and wasn’t on the field as the Dodgers enjoyed the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season.
“Thanks to everyone reaching out!,” Turner said on Twitter. “I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Turner’s positive test moments after presenting the World Series trophy to Los Angeles — a jarring reminder of all that’s been different in this season where the perennially favored Dodgers finally broke through.
Mookie Betts, who came to the Dodgers to make a World Series difference, had a mad dash to home plate in the sixth inning to put Los Angeles over the top.
The end of a frustrating championship drought for LA — and perhaps just the start for Betts and the Dodgers, whose seventh World Series title was their sixth since leaving Brooklyn to the West Coast in 1958.
Betts bolted from third for the go-ahead run on World Series MVP Corey Seager’s infield grounder, then led off the eighth with a punctuating homer.
“I just came to be a part of it. I’m just happy I could contribute,” Betts said
Clayton Kershaw was warming in the bullpen when Julio Urias struck out Willy Adames to end it and ran alongside teammates to celebrate in the infield, later joined by family who had been in the bubble with them in North Texas. Players were handed face masks as they gathered, although many of their embraces came mask-free even after Turner’s positive test.
The Dodgers had played 5,014 regular season games and were in their 114th postseason game since Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland’s Tony Phillips for the final out of the World Series in 1988, the same year Kershaw — the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who won Games 1 and 5 of this Series — was born in nearby Dallas.
Los Angeles had come up short in the World Series twice in the previous three years. Betts was on the other side two years ago and homered in the clinching Game 5 for the Boston Red Sox, who before this season traded the 2018 AL MVP to the Dodgers. They later gave him a $365 million, 12-year extension that goes until he turns 40 in 2032.
Betts’ 3.2-second sprint was just enough to beat the throw by first baseman Ji-Man Choi, pushing Los Angeles ahead 2-1 moments after Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled ace left-hander Blake Snell despite a dominant performance over 5 1/3 innings.
“I’m not exactly sure why,” Betts said when asked about the move. “I’m not going to ask any questions. He was pitching a great game.”
Randy Arozarena, the powerful Tampa Bay rookie, extended his postseason record with his 10th homer in the first off rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, the first of seven Dodgers pitchers. The Rays never got another runner past second base as LA’s bullpen gave reliever-reliant Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine.
About 2 1/2 weeks after the Lakers won the NBA title while finishing their season in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Dodgers gave Los Angeles another championship in this year when the novel coronavirus pandemic has delayed, shortened and moved around sports seasons.
Seager, also the NLCS MVP, set Dodgers records with eight homers and 20 RBIs this postseason.
The MLB season didn’t start until late July and was abbreviated to 60 games for the shortest regular season since 1878. And the expanded postseason, with 16 teams making it instead of 10, almost went the full distance.
It ended when Urias got the last two out Tampa Bay batters on called third strikes — the 15th and 16 Ks by the Rays, with catcher Austin Barnes stuffing the last pitch in his back pocket. Along with the 11 strikeouts by the Dodgers, it was the most combined strikeouts in a nine-inning World Series game.