A regular season star with an erratic post-season history, Kershaw looked like the ace who so often stars on midsummer evenings with the San Gabriel Mountains behind him at Dodger Stadium. With these games shifted, the 32-year-old left-hander wound up pitching not far from his off-season home in Dallas.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight and walked one. He induced 19 swings and misses among his 78 pitches – more than his three previous Series starts combined.
“You can appreciate and totally see why he’s heading to the Hall of Fame one day whenever he’s done,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Kershaw threw nine balls in the first, when he stranded a pair of runners, then threw just nine more over the next three innings.
“He had a game plan to try to really quiet down things from there and he executed,” said Kevin Kiermaier, who ended Kershaw’s streak of 13 retired in a row with a fifth-inning homer that cut the Rays’ deficit to 2-1.
Kershaw improved to 2-2 in the World Series and 12-12 in post-season play, a shadow of his 175-76 regular season record.
Game two is Thursday (AEDT). The Dodgers, who posted the best record in the majors during the shortened season and showed off all their stars in game one, plan to throw a collection of pitchers started by Tony Gonsolin against Rays ace Blake Snell.
Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP who began the opener with a career .114 batting average in 12 World Series games, put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Glasnow.
Betts, brilliant throughout October but slumping at the plate, added his first post-season homer for the Dodgers, a solo shot in the sixth off Josh Fleming.
Betts had two hits, scored two runs and stole two bases in the four-run fifth, when Corey Seager swiped one as Los Angeles became the first team to steal three bases in a Series inning since the 1912 New York Giants in game five against Boston.
Los Angeles are in the Series for the third time in four years but seeking their first title since the Kirk Gibson- and Orel Hershiser-led team of 1988.
Tampa Bay’s only previous Series was a five-game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.