For the Dodgers the symbols of their last two championships are Kirk Gibson limping around the bases and Kevin Cash walking out of a dugout.
The first made the great Vin Scully proclaim, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” The same could have been said Tuesday night. In this improbable pandemic season, Cash, the Rays manager, did the impossible — he managed the game in his imagination rather than the one taking place on the actual field.
Blake Snell was offering a Madison Bumgarner, Curt Schilling, Bob Gibson kind of October performance. But hours before Snell threw his first pitch of World Series Game 6 — thus, hours before he had any idea what the lefty would deliver — Cash had decided Snell would not face anyone in the Dodger lineup a third time. Not one batter. No matter if he were dominating the very top of the order that was due nor that the reliever Cash would be summoning, Nick Anderson, had been generally atrocious this postseason.
Napoleon famously said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” So the Dodgers stood back and watched Cash create his own Waterloo. If the art of managing best is doing what your opponent wants you to do least, then the Dodgers were thrilled to see Cash hook Snell with a two-hit, nine-strikeout shutout going one out into the sixth.
“I was pretty happy because [Snell] was dominating us and we weren’t seeing him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We were all kind of excited that Snell was out of the game.”
Even better for the Dodgers was to protect a 1-0 lead, Cash had brought in Anderson, who was already in the midst of a postseason record of giving up runs in six straight appearances. It would become seven quickly in what would be the seminal pivot of the Dodgers’ clinching 3-1 triumph.
“Yes, I regret it because it didn’t work out,” Cash said. “I thought the thought process was right.’’
Cash is likely to win AL Manager of the Year on Nov. 10. He cobbled the sum of the parts into a whole good enough to not only get to the World Series, but challenge a Dodgers club superior on paper. He was expert at motivating players to buy into a team concept in which anyone could be used at any time — to check egos at the door. But that philosophy perhaps kept him from appreciating what was occurring in front of him Tuesday night, leading to the worst World Series Game 6 flub since the ball was going through Buckner’s legs in 1986. At least those Red Sox still had a chance in Game 7. There is now no tomorrow for the Rays. What there was, instead, was the first title in 11,695 days for the Dodgers.
The last time the Dodgers won it all,