This year was far too unpredictable and unprecedented for there to have been a sweep in the World Series. The Rays’ Game 2 victory on Wednesday assured, at the very least, more baseball, and for that, we are eternally grateful. But it also might have signaled that we’re going to have a World Series as riveting, unexpected and historic as the rest of this season has been.
The series tied at one game apiece, we now head into Game 3 on Friday, a pivotal tilt and a chance for one team to break the tie and leap ahead. One suspects, as good as both of these teams are, it won’t be our last tie. This series looks like it’ll be going on for a while. Thank goodness.
Here are your top Game 3 storylines:
1) Is Brandon Lowe back?
If you've been watching the Rays for the first time during this postseason, you might wonder how this Lowe fellow keeps staying in the lineup. (He was, in fact, on the bench for one game.) With 14 homers and 37 RBIs during the regular season to complement a .269/.362/.554 slash line, Lowe was Tampa Bay's best hitter before his postseason slump, but he might have just broken out of it in Game 2, with two homers in the Rays’ victory.
There were signs heading in that he was slowly starting to work his way back, and Wednesday was the breakthrough he and Tampa Bay had been waiting for. The Rays have sought any offense they can find in this series. Their best hitter returning to his best self is an ideal solution.
2) Are the Dodgers ever going to figure out how to use Dustin May?
May was one of the happier, more purely enjoyable stories of this baseball season, a big, doofy, likable guy who had great stuff, made 10 terrific starts and hopped around the mound like he had pogo sticks in his spikes. But in the postseason, manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers have tried to use May like he’s 2016 Andrew Miller crossed with an '18 Rays opening pitcher and it’s just not working. May’s stuff has looked diminished and even confused, and he’s getting knocked around while also putting the staff into awkward positions.
The Dodgers have their three best starters (Walker Buehler, Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw) set up for the next three games, but it will be fascinating to see if they use May in any of these games or punt on the experiment and let him just start a hypothetical Game 6. He’s a great weapon, but he is clearly not being deployed properly in this series.
3) Does everybody appreciate how good Buehler has been in the postseason?
In his first career postseason appearance, Game 3 of the 2018 National League Division Series against the Braves, Buehler allowed five runs in his first two innings in a would-be clincher, including that infamous grand slam hit by Ronald Acuña Jr. But since that second inning, Buehler has thrown 53 1/3 postseason innings and allowed just 10 earned runs. (That’s a 1.69 ERA, if you don’t have your calculator handy.)
He has, in other words, been (by far) the best Dodgers postseason pitcher for three years. He’s lined up for Game 3, and a Game 7 start if it goes that far.