Should the World Series between the Dodgers and Rays that opened Tuesday evening at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, go seven games, the NL champions from Los Angeles will have played more than half as many games as the Rangers did in their home stadium this season.
Thanks to the postseason bubble, the Dodgers swept three NLDS games against the Padres and needed seven to eliminate the Braves in the NLCS, all at Globe Life. Seven more tilts would push LA to 17 postseason games in the glistening first-year facility. The Rangers posted a 16-14 record at home this year.
Considering the AL champion Rays were playing their first game at the place and had Monday’s workout to study the nuances that every playing field offers, the Dodgers would appear to have an edge in that department entering Game 1.
The way Dodger left fielder AJ Pollock talked about what he has learned in 10 games, it sure sounded like an advantage.
“When you look at how the ball carries here it has been strange. We are fortunate to play here as long as we have,’’ Pollock said prior to Game 1 when the roof was slated to be open. “There are a lot of different things you don’t see in a lot of ballparks. In left field you don’t know what the wind is doing. It could be 30 mph straight in or it could be blowing somewhere else. There is a lot of wind here so you don’t know. It’s a big ballpark. For a defensive player you know you just have to keep running after it because you never know if you are going to have a chance. You just can’t give up on balls.’’
Blake Snell, the Rays’ Game 2 starter on Wednesday evening, raved about what Globe Life turned out to be before getting into the advantage/disadvantage discussion.
“They did their thing, I can tell you that much. This ballpark is probably one of the nicest I have been to,’’ said Snell, who calls Tropicana Field home. “It’s beautiful.’’
As for the Dodgers having a lot more experience in Globe Life, which will host the entire series, Snell admitted LA’s comfort level was real.
“They are comfortable. They have been at this hotel for two weeks now. They have been playing here for a while, they know how the field works,’’ Snell said. “They are probably a little more comfortable but we got here [Monday], practiced and [saw] the dimensions of the park.’’
Snell pointed out an area that gives the Rays confidence: the playing surface.
“It’s on turf and we are good on turf,’’ Snell said of the Rays, who went 20-9 at Tropicana during the regular season. “It has a little dome vibe to it so it can go both ways. They have played here for two weeks so they have that advantage and getting comfortable with that clubhouse, but I still think with us coming here [Monday] with the way we feel right now I don’t think there is an advantage. We are both really good teams ready to play.’’
After playing during the afternoon in San Diego’s Petco Park in the ALDS and ALCS, the Rays needed to see what the Globe Life’s light bulbs were all about.
“Just coming in and checking your sights out, check out the lighting, check out the backdrop, sort of see how the foul lines are playing,’’ Rays catcher Mike Zunino said. “They have turf here that is actually not quite as bouncy as places we play, the Trop and Toronto. There are a few differences. We did a good job of covering stuff [Monday], but I think we will be just fine with batting practice [Tuesday] and getting used to it.’’
Rays manager Kevin Cash didn’t believe the Dodgers had an edge simply because he believes they are a really good team no matter the venue and was confident his fielders would be fine in a strange place.
“We have a really talented defensive club. Their athleticism and talent will help them and they will get themselves in the right position,’’ Cash said. “We didn’t have many reps in Petco Park, either.’’
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