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Sunday April 18th, 2021 5:23AM

Dodgers hope Gonsolin more than an opener in Game 6

By The Associated Press
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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Gonsolin found out after Game 2 that he would be starting Game 6 as well for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This time, they plan for the rookie right-hander to be more than an opener with the Dodgers having a chance to clinch their first World Series title since 1988.

“Tony's a starting pitcher tomorrow.” manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “I’m going to watch him pitch and then we’ll see what we do after that. ... I want to go as long as he possibly can, that’d be great."

Gonsolin went 1 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay in Game 2, a planned bullpen game for the Dodgers. He was the loser after giving up only one run — the one that put the Rays ahead to stay in the 6-4 win — two days after he pitched two innings in relief in the clinching Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.

“With the extra day, it worked out nicely, I took the next day off and then got my two lifts and my bullpen and on would have been Game 4,” Gonsolin said. “And ready to go for tomorrow.”

After Clayton Kershaw won his second game against the Rays on Sunday night for a 3-2 Series advantage, Los Angeles opted against trying to use right-handed ace Walker Buehler to start on short rest Tuesday night.

Roberts, who hopes to get five or six innings from Gonsolin, said the Dodgers thought through that option, but decided it didn't make sense.

“You’re putting yourself in a situation where after winning a game to put him in a tough situation. There’s already guaranteed, at worse, a Game 7,” Roberts said. “There’s a blister component that we’ve dealt with, that it just brings that more into play with that extra day.”

Buehler was the winner in Game 3 on Friday night, when he struck out 10 while allowing one run and three hits over six innings.

RAY OF HOPE

Eleven of the last 14 teams that trailed going into Game 6, and then forced a Game 7, went on to win the World Series.

SUB PITCHER

Ryan Thompson has pitched in relief for the Tampa Bay Rays in three consecutive World Series games.

A year ago, the 6-foot-5 right-hander from Oregon with the unusual delivery — part sidearm, part submarine — was a substitute teacher and sometimes working with his mother overseeing a Wii dance club.

“I was just trying to make as much money as I could so I could afford training, and I was in Triple-A,” Thompson said Monday. “The minor league life is not easy. When I had my surgery, you know, everything was up in the air."

Thompson, who had Tommy John surgery in 2018, made his big league debut this season when he appeared in 25 regular-season games. He has a 1.93 ERA in nine postseason appearances, including 2 2/3 scoreless innings in this World Series.

His family didn't get to see him pitch in the regular season, which Thompson said was a struggle since he was not able to share those moments. They have been at some postseason games, including the World Series, though they can't see each other after games with players in MLB's bubbled postseason environment because of concerns after the coronavirus delayed and shortened the regular season.

"I just wish that I could hug them. I just wish that I could run up into the stands and say, ‘Hi.' Or even after the game, meet him out for dinner or something,” Thompson said. “That’s the part that sucks for us, is that there’s a disconnect. Our parents get to feel this emotion, and we get feel emotion, but we don’t get to embrace and feel this moment together.”

DEEP NINE

When Max Muncy hit a no-doubt homer in the fifth inning of Game 5, he became the ninth different Dodgers player to go deep in this World Series.

That broke the record of eight different Oakland players who homered for the Athletics in a Series sweep of San Francisco in 1989. Los Angeles had tied the mark three innings before Muncy when Joc Pederson went deep.

Shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Justin Turner both have two homers in this Fall Classic for LA. The rest of the Dodgers homers vs. the Rays have come from Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes and Will Smith.

SHORT HOPS

A run has been scored in the top half of the first inning in the last four games. That hadn't happened since the 1932 World Series, when the New York Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs during the Series where Babe Ruth called his home run shot. ... Muncy has walked 20 times, matching Gary Sheffield in 1997 for the second-most in postseason history. Barry Bonds got a record 27 free passes in 2002.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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