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LA Dodgers Win World Series, 3B Justin Turner Pulled Mid-Game Due to Positive COVID-19 Test

Photo by: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

By Matthew Zimmer

Tuesday night the Los Angeles Dodgers ended their 32-year World Series drought. However, the Game 6 win over Tampa Bay took a backseat when some disturbing news broke.

Justin Turner

Third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19, and he was playing in the game when the results surfaced. The information didn’t come out until postgame why Turner was pulled in the eighth inning.

So, let me get this straight. His test from MONDAY, which was “inconclusive” didn’t come back until TUESDAY. That raises some serious questions about the MLB testing protocols. Let’s put that on the back burner.

Then, because of his Monday test, his Tuesday test gets “expedited” and took two hours to come back with the positive results. Meaning, the first test was revealed in the second inning of Game 6, and then it was confirmed with the second test during the seventh inning of Game 6.

Now the lasting image of the World Series isn’t LA’s big win after 32 years of no championships, it’s Justin Turner on the field with teammates, his wife and others sometimes masked but sometimes not.

Honestly, I’m not sure which photo is more disturbing: Turner kissing his wife while COVID-positive or Turner sitting next to manager Dave Roberts who beat cancer (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) nine years ago.

The Game

Putting Turner aside, which I don’t want to do because I could write or talk about it forever, this game was a classic.

For LA it was a classic “comeback” story, but for Tampa Bay it was a classic bonehead move.

Now, before you jump down my throat with analytics let me say something. Numbers and analytics have saved baseball in a lot of ways.

Players who deserved more credit (Edgar Martinez) are in the Hall of Fame because of analytics. Also, the numbers help teams make decisions on signing players and who to play in certain moments.

However, what happened on Tuesday is a grim reminder that analytics can’t be the only thing you rely on.

Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to pull Blake Snell with one out in the six inning. The data on Snell suggests he usually struggles when going through the order a third time. Something Cash forgot is context matters.

Yes, Snell hasn’t pitched through six or more innings since July 2019. However, the context of last night shows Cash should have let Snell keep going.

The Rays ace was absolutely cruising through five shutout innings. Snell threw 69 pitches while giving up one hit (no walks) and striking out nine Dodgers in that span.

In those nine strikeouts, SIX of them came against the top three in the Dodgers order. For those that don’t know, those top three were stud OF Mookie Betts, World Series MVP SS Corey Seager and COVID-positive 3B Justin Turner.

To start the sixth, he got a first-pitch pop-out for the first out. Then, he gave up a single to No. 9 hitter, catcher Austin Barnes. With 73 pitches, Cash came to pull Snell.

I’m not a major league manager. However, everyone and their mother knew to leave Snell in. The kid from Seattle was dealing and he gets yanked with the World Series on the line. Oof.

Like I said, analytics are useful, but your gut feeling needs to count for something. If Cash was going based on his gut and not “the numbers” then he might not have what it takes to be a really successful manager.

Snell wanted the ball. He wanted the chance to save the Rays and force a Game 7. I’m not saying Snell was going to shutout the Dodgers and throw a complete game shutout.

Again, I would live with Snell, who was dominant, even if he gave up a bunch of hits to Betts, Seager and Turner in that sixth inning.

That’s your ace. He got you here. Let him bring you home. Or at least let him TRY.

So, if you missed what happened. Snell gets pulled and his replacement, Nick Anderson, immediately gave up a double to Betts to put runners on second and third.

A wild pitch and a Seager fielder’s choice later, the Rays go from up 1-0 to down 2-1. Betts added a home run in the eighth and that was all she wrote.

Congratulations to the Dodgers. They earned the World Series title. However, I think analytics and Cash robbed us of a potential Game 7. Oh well, Game 6 was exciting in its own right.

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