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Dodgers rally late, defeat Astros 6-2 in World Series Game 4

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Last night, I wrote about Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggles through the first three games of the World Series. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 3, which ran his hitless streak up to 11 at-bats in the Fall Classic. Bellinger turned his fortune around in Game 4 on Saturday night, helping the Dodgers even the World Series at two games apiece with a 6-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.

It was a pitcher’s duel through-and-through after five innings. Both Astros starter Charlie Morton and Dodgers starter Alex Wood were trading zeroes on the scoreboard. Wood, in fact, held the Astros hitless through five. He lost it with two outs in the sixth when George Springerfacing Wood for a third time — swatted a 394-foot solo home run to left field. That was it for Wood. Brandon Morrow came in and got Alex Bregman to ground out to end the inning. Wood’s final line: 5 2/3 innings, one run, one hit, two walks, three strikeouts, 84 pitches.

The Dodgers exacted revenge on the Astros, fighting back for a run of their own in the top of the seventh. With one out against Morton, Cody Bellinger slashed a double to left field, just to the side of the Crawford Boxes. Will Harris came in to relieve Morton and got Yasiel Puig to line out to right field. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel, Harris fell behind Logan Forsythe 2-0. Forsythe then ripped a 2-1 cutter that caught too much plate into shallow left-center to bring Bellinger home, tying the game at 1-1.

In the top of the ninth, Astros manager A.J. Hinch called on struggling closer Ken Giles to start the ninth. Giles had allowed runs in five of six appearances this postseason, including two to the Dodgers in Game 2. It wasn’t exactly shocking, then, when Giles gave up a leadoff single to Corey Seager then walked Justin Turner. After a visit on the mound from pitching coach Brent Strom, Giles proceded to give up a run-scoring double to Bellinger before giving way to Joe Musgrove. Musgrove struck out Puig, then intentionally walked Forsythe to set up a double play possibility. Austin Barnes lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Charlie Culberson, who pinch-ran for Justin Turner. Joc Pederson decided to break the game wide open in the next at-bat, sending an 0-1, 94 MPH fastball to right field for a three-run home run, boosting the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1. Giles ended up on the hook for three runs without recording an out.

Kenley Jansen entered in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to make up for his blown save in Game 2. He did just that. Brian McCann attempted to beat the shift with a bunt, but Seager made a nice play to record the first out. Jansen then struck out Springer. Bregman swatted a solo home run into the Crawford Boxes to make it 6-2, but it was too little, too late. Jansen got Jose Altuve to fly out to center field to end the game, evening up the series.

The final World Series game in Houston will take place on Sunday night. Game 5 will feature a rematch of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel. The two teams will take Monday off to return to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.