Major League Baseball

Best Of Game 1 Watch Party

October 20

Nick Swisher, Tino Martinez, Rick Ankiel and Ben Verlander were live from the opening pitch of Game 1 of the World Series, reacting to all the action and answering your questions.

Game 1 started with some drama, as Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw got into a a jam in the first before escaping without allowing the Rays to score.

He settled down after that, striking out eight batters over six innings and surrendering just one run. And finally breaking through on the biggest stage would exorcise Kershaw's famous postseason demons, Ankiel pointed out.

And by the end of the night, Kershaw had done all that he could do to start to reverse the "October narrative" around him, according to our guys.

A big series from the Dodgers star would certainly go a long way toward L.A.'s first World Series title since 1988. Yet former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, who joined the show as a special guest, explained that the one thing the team absolutely needs to do differently to win the championship is have the bullpen shut things down late throughout the series.

The Dodgers broke Game 1 open in the middle innings, as Mookie Betts hit his first home run of the postseason to add to his stellar defense and base running – which had our crew unequivocally stating that the Dodgers star is the best player in baseball.

Regardless of who wins the title, some will question whether that achievement means less in a shortened season. But the entire Watch Party crew was aligned that there's absolutely no need to put an asterisk on the 2020 World Series.

Karros was far from the only guest to stop by, as Minnesota Twins pitcher (and former Ray) Jake Odorizzi dispensed some incredible knowledge about pitching to stellar hitters like the Rays' Randy Arozarena.

He also reflected on the MLB bubble, and how the lower-pressure environment made the transition for young players to the majors easier this year.

Former minor leaguer and baseball personality Cody Decker joined the show late, and he saved possibly the best for last by sharing his best Nick Swisher story – and busting out a pretty spot-on Swish impression. "I made $114 million ... and I wasn't that good!" Bro!

Come back on Wednesday night at first pitch on FOX Sports' digital platforms for the Game 2 Watch Party with the same crew.

And by the way – before the first pitch, we put our panelists on the spot by getting their predictions for the 2020 Fall Classic. Here's what they expect to happen as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays square off in Arlington, Texas, in a compelling matchup of baseball's two best teams from the regular season:

Four-time World Series champion Tino MartinezRays in six.

Why the Rays? I just think they have so many platoon players that can match up against any pitcher the Dodgers bring in. They’ve been used to doing that all season long – that’s just how they play. Tampa Bay has so many interchangeable parts that will make it very tough on the Dodgers bullpen.

You played in five World Series and reached the playoffs nine times. How will the Dodgers deal with the pressure of playing in their third World Series in four years? I think they’re going to handle it very well. Those past experiences of getting those chances will help them perform better in tough situations. You just learn how to deal with that pressure better with the more opportunities you get. 

Former World Series champion Nick Swisher: Dodgers in six.

Why the Dodgers? Their time is now! They have failed on this stage before in 2017 and 2018, and they don’t want that feeling again. 

What is the toughest question facing Dodgers manager Dave Roberts? For me it has to be the bullpen. How is Roberts going to use Jansen. Will he use Urias instead? Who will he go to for a big out in the middle innings?

FOX Sports' Ben Verlander: Rays in six.

Why the Rays? Pitching and defense wins in the playoffs. And the Rays have a big edge in pitching, mostly in the bullpen.

What intangibles favor the Rays in this series? Their mentality. I think the fact the Dodgers have been here quite a few times lately and haven’t been able to win puts some added pressure on them and Dave Roberts.

(For Verlander's five reasons the Rays will win the World Series, check out this video below.)

Eleven-year major-leaguer and three-time postseason veteran Rick Ankiel: Dodgers in six.

Why the Dodgers: I’m stuck on the fence about who wins. I'm giving the slightest of edges to the Dodgers.

What is the toughest question facing Kevin Cash? Who does he not let beat them late in the game? Does he walk Mookie Betts to pitch to Corey Seager and Justin Turner? Walk Seager to pitch to Turner and Max Muncy? How tweaked is Bellinger's shoulder from the celebration? There are not a lot of places to hide in the Dodgers lineup. They are deep, including the bench with Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernández.

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