ARLINGTON, Texas — Monday marked the 24th day the Los Angeles Dodgers have been at the same hotel in Irving, Texas, living the bubble life.
Manager Dave Roberts didn’t have to think when asked what his favorite meal has been.
“Every morning, I go with oatmeal, brown sugar, 2 percent milk, and some berries. Three eggs over medium and I go with a side of bacon and a cup of coffee,” he said with the authority of a man who hasn’t needed to see a menu in several weeks. “I look forward to it every morning.”
When Roberts orders his breakfast Tuesday, it could be an appetizer for a World Series championship.
The Dodgers have a 3-2 lead on the Tampa Bay Rays, giving them two chances to win the organization’s first championship since 1988.
As droughts are measured, it’s a stroll on the beach compared to the 86-year curse Roberts helped the Red Sox break in 2004 when he was a player. But the Dodgers are overdue in a different way.
They have won eight consecutive National League West championships and built an organization envied within the industry for how it drafts, develops, and maintains the health of its players.
All that’s missing is a trophy. Until they earn one, their carefully refined process lacks validation.
The Dodgers are in control of the Series following a 4-2 victory in Game 5 on Sunday. But now the pressure is on to dispatch the Rays.
“We want to make our own mark on Dodgers history,” Roberts said.
Tampa Bay has already had an excellent season, beating the Yankees in a five-game Division Series and the Astros in a seven-game ALCS. The Dodgers will be judged solely by what comes next.
Life in a luxury hotel isn’t a hardship. But the Dodgers are ready to go home and can make that happen in Game 6.
But there is a flaw in their plan. Even with Monday’s off day, the Dodgers will not have a fully rested starter available for Game 6. Walker Buehler, dominant in five postseason starts, will be held back for a possible Game 7 on his normal turn.
That leaves righthander Tony Gonsolin for Tuesday. He had a 2.31 earned run average as a starter in the regular season but has allowed eight earned runs over 7⅔ innings in the postseason. He had one conventional start, a relief appearance, then was used as an opener in Game 2.
Gonsolin is a starting pitcher for Game 6, Roberts said, not an opener. The Dodgers are hoping he can go five innings, if not a little more.
“As much as people want to say there’s a script, the game plays out,” Roberts said. “I’m going to watch him pitch and we’ll see what we do after that.”
Gonsolin said being in the role he’s most familiar with would make it easier.
“Kind of controlling the emotions and just competing,” he said.
The Rays have Blake Snell, who held the Dodgers to two runs over 4⅔ innings in Game 2.
The Rays got the World Series by taking early leads and using a deep bullpen to hold them, stifling opposing lineups with different looks. That hasn’t worked against the Dodgers.
“We’ve got to find a little offense somehow,” said manager Kevin Cash, whose team has a .704 OPS in the postseason and has averaged 4.1 runs.
The Rays survived winner-take-all games in the last two rounds. So they know what’s needed.
“I think it will help,” Cash said. "This experience this postseason has helped us. The tension, the anxiety, the pressure . . . all of those things were there. It’s going to be the same thing here now.
“The good thing is we’ve got a lot of personalities and a lot of characters on this team that do such a good job of embracing that rather than running from it or changing from it. They’ll rise to the moment.”
Can it help a manager?
“Probably not that much because I’ll be stressed out,” Cash said.
The Dodgers have played their last 15 games at Globe Life Field and hit 28 home runs, one more than the Texas Rangers did in 30 home games during the regular season.
Once they cleared a quarantine to ensure they were free of COVID-19, a large group of wives, girlfriends, and children joined the players. There were enough kids to have a Halloween party last week.
Monday’s agenda included a barbecue and a wedding shower for Allison Landa, who is engaged to reliever Brusdar Graterol.
“This is our new normal,” Roberts said. “Hopefully it’s one more day.”