Tampa Bay pitcher Charlie Morton won’t be relying on past World Series experience — which includes championship success against Los Angeles — when he takes the ball for the Rays Friday in game three of baseball’s championship showcase against the Dodgers.
Morton, 36, closed out the Houston Astros’ game seven triumph over the Dodgers in 2017.
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Over 12 postseason appearances, 11 of them starts, Morton is 7-2 with a 2.84 Earned Run Average, and in four career appearances in “winner take all game sevens he has four wins and a stingy .46 ERA.
He is also the only player on a young Rays team that had World Series experience prior to this week — but far from doling out advice to newcomers Morton encouraged teammates to take a look at the Dodgers — who are in the World Series for the third time in four years as they continue their pursuit of a first title in 32 years.
“The guys in the other clubhouse, the fact that they have been here several times in the past four years, that their core group has remained intact, the leaders on the team have been there for a few years,” he said of the Dodgers’ strength.
“They look comfortable out there. They look like a team that has been here before and that makes them dangerous.
“That’s where we are trying to get to. The young guys, especially, on this team should be trying to get to. Not only being here this year but trying to stay relevant in the game as an organization. Go back to the playoffs every year with a chance to win it.”
Morton said the Rays came into game one at the neutral site of Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, at a disadvantage.
The Dodgers had played the National League Championship Series at the park — home of the Texas Rangers — and unlike the Rays playing the American League Championship Series in San Diego had already experienced the return of a limited number of fans in the stands for the first time in the pandemic-shortened season.
Los Angeles opened with a comprehensive 8-3 victory, but the Rays rebounded in game two with a 6-4 victory on the back of two home runs from Brandon Lowe and an outstanding effort from Blake Snell, who held the Dodgers hitless through 4 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers used a platoon of seven pitchers in game two – one shy of a record for a nine-inning World Series contest — but will be hoping starter Walker Buehler will go deep into game three.
Buehler has allowed just four runs in 19 innings this post-season, helping the Dodgers fend off elimination as he shut out the Atlanta Braves over six innings in game six of the NLCS.
And he’ll be pitching after five full days of rest.
“He feels good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.