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World Series: Dodgers, Rays to cap unique, brief MLB season

Oct. 20 (UPI) — Some 11,500 fans will be allowed to attend each World Series game this week in Arlington, Texas, as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays cap the brief and unique pandemic-impacted MLB season.

The Dodgers , National League pennant winners, are favored to win the series over the Rays, the American League pennant winners. The Rays are 9-5, while the Dodgers are 9-3 this postseason.

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The best-of-seven series will air on Fox. The first pitch for Game 1 is at 8:09 p.m. EDT Tuesday at Globe Life Park.

“You can’t really ask for much more than what this team is doing,” Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts told reporters Sunday. “We apply pressure all nine innings. We do everything well. We are going to be tough to beat.”

Los Angeles carries a lot of momentum into the series after winning three consecutive games against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series to clinch a spot in the World Series.

The Dodgers also hit the most home runs and had the best earned run average in Major League Baseball during the 60-game regular season. They were the preseason betting favorites to win the World Series.

Oddsmakers did not have the Rays among their Top 15 World Series favorites before the season.

“It’s a pretty special feeling,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of going to the World Series. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [feelings], other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better. This is a special group to be a part of.”

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The Rays began their postseason run with a two-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, and then knocked off the New York Yankees. Tampa Bay went on to beat the Astros in the ALCS to reach the World Series.

Los Angeles swept the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres before their dramatic comeback victory over the Braves in the NLCS.

Globe Life Park, the home of the Texas Rangers, also served as the venue for the NLCS. The 50,000-capacity facility was one of four stadiums MLB used as part of a strategy to limit travel and exposure to COVID-19 before the World Series and after the first round of the playoffs began in late September.

MLB also used Petco Park in San Diego, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Minute Maid Park in Houston as part of the bubble strategy. Fans were allowed at the NLCS in Arlington, but not at any ALCS or any other playoff rounds this year due to coronavirus pandemic safety precautions.

Pitching matchups close

The Dodgers and Rays posted identical 3.36 ERAs throughout the playoffs, which tied for fourth-best among the 16-team playoff field.

The Rays have allowed nine more home runs and 25 more hits than the Dodgers, but have played two more games this postseason. Dodgers pitchers have thrown just three fewer strikeouts, despite the disparity in innings pitched.

Three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw leads the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Los Angeles also has right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler on its staff behind the left-handed ace and likely holds an edge in head-to-head pitcher matchups for the series.

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Blake Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young award winner, leads the Rays’ rotation. The pitching staff also features Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton.

Kershaw is set to start Game 1 for the Dodgers, while the Rays will hand the ball to Glasnow. The Rays said that Snell will take the mound in Game 2, while the Dodgers have not announced a Game 2 starter.

Dodgers bats more balanced

The Dodgers led baseball in home runs during the regular season, but the Rays hit 25 homers this postseason, more than any other team. The Dodgers have collected a playoff-best 66 RBIs and led the National League with a team batting average of .256.

The Rays’ offense ranked toward the bottom half of the league in batting average and ranked 13th in RBIs and 14th in home runs during the regular season, but has been much hotter this postseason.

Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena leads way at the plate. The 2020 ALCS MVP is hitting .382 with a league-best seven home runs this postseason. He has homered in three of his last four playoff games.

Arozarena is the only Rays hitter with a batting average over .300 this postseason. Rays right fielder Manuel Margot and third baseman Joey Wendle have also brought some pop at the plate. Margot is hitting .256 with five home runs and a team-high 11 RBIs. Wendle its hitting .255.

Unlike the Rays, the Dodgers have a balance of power and contact at the plate. Betts leads the way with a .311 batting average this postseason. Corey Seager, the 2020 NLCS MVP, has a team-high six home runs. Reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger has a .250 batting average with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

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Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock, catcher Willi Smith, first baseman Max Muncy, third baseman Justin Turner and second baseman Chris Taylor also own batting averages of least .200 this postseason.

How to watch the 2020 World Series

Game 1 at 8:09 p.m. EDT on Tuesday on Fox

Game 2 at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Wednesday on Fox

Game 3 at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Friday on Fox

Game 4 at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Saturday on Fox

Game 5 (if necessary) at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Sunday on Fox

Game 6 (if necessary) at 8:08 p.m. EDT on Oct. 27 on Fox

Game 7 (if necessary): at 8:09 p.m. EDT on Oct. 28 on Fox

This week in Major League Baseball

Miami Marlins players pose for a picture after defeating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in the National League Wild Card Game to win their first playoff series in 17 years in Chicago on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

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