ARLINGTON, Tex. — The Tampa Bay Rays were busy all last week out in San Diego, what with winning the American League pennant and all, and may have missed the nightly demonstrations of baseball excellence put on some 1,300 miles away at Globe Life Field by Markus Lynn “Mookie” Betts — who willed the Los Angeles Dodgers into this World Series with one outrageous play after another.

Maybe the Rays caught the highlights on TV. Maybe they pored over their scouting reports the past couple of days. But by the end of Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night, the Rays could be certain of one thing: Watching Betts from afar is much better than witnessing his exploits in person from the opposite dugout.

The Dodgers’ 8-3 victory in the series opener featured a six-inning, narrative-destroying gem from left-hander Clayton Kershaw. It featured a two-run homer from center fielder Cody Bellinger followed by a notably hands-free celebration. It featured a curiously late hook of Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, who was left in the game with a season-high pitch total to give up the decisive runs in the pivotal fifth inning.

But mostly what Game 1 featured was a lot of Mookie Betts. Which is to say, it was a continuation of what Betts did in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the National League Championship Series, dominating with his singular blend of athleticism and acumen. In those games, he had beaten the Atlanta Braves largely with his glove — robbing homers, spearing line drives, running down would-be extra-base hits in the gaps.

On Tuesday night, he beat the Rays with his legs and finally with his bat. He manufactured a run pretty much all by himself in that crucial fifth inning — drawing a walk, stealing second, stealing third and beating a throw home on a soft grounder to first with a nifty, headfirst slide. That was the inning that saw the Dodgers boost their lead from one run to five.

“Stolen bases are a thing for me,” Betts said. “That’s how I create runs. It’s how I cause a little havoc on the bases. I take pride in stealing bases.”

An inning later, Betts blasted a solo homer to right — not far from the spot where, two nights earlier, he had robbed the Braves’ Freddie Freeman of a homer in the Dodgers’ NLCS clincher. In 115 previous editions of the World Series, no player had ever homered, stolen two bases and scored twice in one game. But in the first game of the 116th and strangest of all World Series, Betts did exactly that.

It was worth pausing Tuesday night simply to marvel at the fact there is a World Series at all in 2020 — a season twisted, upended and shortened by a global pandemic. If pulling it off required a 60-game season, a couple of postseason bubbles and a neutral site, it was all worth it — if for nothing else than to get at least four more nights of Mookie Betts on a baseball field in this calendar year.

In how it looked, how it sounded and how it came to be, this was a World Series game like none before in baseball history. It is the first neutral-site World Series and the first to be played entirely at one stadium since the 1944 edition between the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. The crowd was limited to about one-quarter capacity, with ticket holders seated in pods of four, socially distanced from other groups.

When Will Smith led off the bottom of the second for the Dodgers, he became the first NL designated hitter to bat in the bottom half of an inning in the World Series; in previous years, the DH was only used in AL parks, where the NL team bats first. This year, for the first time, the DH is being used in all games.

A game that was still close by its midpoint turned largely on the Rays’ very un-Rays-like decision to ride Glasnow, with a mounting pitch count and traffic on the bases, for five batters in the bottom of the fifth, as his command was failing and the Dodgers were threatening to break the game open.

The Rays’ way is typically to err on the side of pulling a starter too early — and start the nightly parade of flamethrowing relievers — rather than letting him face one batter, or two or three, too many. But Manager Kevin Cash allowed Glasnow to remain in the game, even after issuing walks to the first two batters (Glasnow’s fifth and sixth of the game), even after Betts and Corey Seager pulled off a double steal, and even after Betts beat first baseman Yandy Díaz’s throw home on a soft groundball to push the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1.

Still, Cash let Glasnow face one more batter — Smith, who singled softly to left-center to make it 4-1. Finally, the Rays pulled Glasnow, whose 112 pitches represented the most thrown by a Rays pitcher in 2020. But lefty Ryan Yarbrough wasn’t the answer, either, and run-scoring singles by Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández made it 6-1.

“We needed a strikeout,” Cash said of the decision to stick with Glasnow, “and there might be nobody better-equipped to get a strikeout there than [him]. … The walks are definitely not ideal. [Glasnow] would be the first to recognize that. But we didn’t do a good job of keeping runners on. You can’t allow the double steal there.”

What the Dodgers do better than any other team is force pitchers to work. They take borderline pitches. They spoil nasty, two-strike pitches by fouling them off, in hopes the next one is a mistake. They drive up pitch counts. They make a pitcher show them everything in his arsenal sooner than he would like. Even if they don’t get you that time, they learn something. And when they see you again later in the game, or later in the series, they attack.

“You have to execute pitches better. You have to hold runners on better,” Glasnow said. “Definitely a frustrating one.”

The Dodgers worked seven walks Tuesday night, six of them off Glasnow. And three of the walks came around to score.

“There’s a lot of great hitters over there,” Rays catcher Mike Zunino said. “Against a team like that, it’s really tough to give them so many free bases.”

At 6-foot-8 with a long, driving stride, Glasnow’s release point is the closest to home plate of any pitcher in the majors — and his fastball regularly touches triple digits. At his worst, it’s still a wonder any hitter touches one of his pitches. At his best, it’s a wonder anyone can even see one.

But even Glasnow’s fastball, when thrown down the middle of the plate, can be squared up. That’s the pitch Bellinger drove into the Dodgers’ bullpen in right-center with one out in the fourth — 98 mph coming in, 108 mph going out — for a two-run homer that gave the Dodgers the early lead.

On his way back to his dugout, Bellinger celebrated with his teammates with an exaggerated toe tap — like a high-five but with feet — a sly reference to the thunderous arm-bash with Hernández during Game 7 of the NLCS that briefly dislocated Bellinger’s shoulder.

“The toe tap,” Bellinger said, “I might just do that for the rest of my career. Who knows?”

The roar that greeted the Bellinger homer was a dead giveaway that the crowd of 11,388 was almost all pulling in one direction — for the Dodgers.

Kershaw lugged a 4.31 career ERA in the postseason and a 5.40 mark in the World Series out to a mound just a few miles from his Dallas home, in his latest effort to rewrite the checkered story of his relationship with October. But this was the good Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner, the future Hall of Famer, the guy who had a resurgent 2020 and a 13-strikeout takedown of the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the playoffs.

Kershaw struck out eight Rays in his six innings, inducing 19 whiffs on 38 swings, allowing just two hits and making only one true mistake — the down-the-middle slider that Kevin Kiermaier slammed over the wall in right in the fifth, briefly pulling the Rays within one.

It was the last moment when Game 1 seemed like it could go either way. But the leadoff batter for the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth was Betts. It was time for the nightly show, and the Rays no longer had the option of turning it off and finding something else to do.

Dave Sheinin reported this story from Arlington, Tex. The live updates below were reported by Scott Allen from Washington.

Read more from The Post:

3:41 a.m.
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Joe Kelly finishes off the Rays, Dodgers take 1-0 series lead

By Scott Allen

Joe Kelly, who is perhaps best known for inciting a brawl and being suspended eight games for throwing at Houston Astros players Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman during a game earlier this season, was tasked with protecting the Dodgers’ 8-3 lead in the ninth inning. He succeeded, giving Los Angeles a 1-0 series lead.

Austin Meadows led off the frame with a flyball to center field that Cody Bellinger hauled in with a leaping grab on the warning track. Manuel Margot then struck out looking on a high fastball before Joey Wendle grounded out to shortstop Corey Seager on a ball that deflected off Kelly’s hand. Game 2 is Wednesday night

3:18 a.m.
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Rays go down in order in the eighth, trail 8-3

By Scott Allen

Trailing 8-3, the Rays are down to their final three outs in Game 1 after Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez set them down in order in the eighth. Austin Meadows, Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle are due up for Tampa Bay in the ninth.

3:03 a.m.
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Rays get to Dodgers’ bullpen, still trail 8-3 in the seventh inning

By Scott Allen

Dodgers reliever Dylan Floro replaced Clayton Kershaw to start the seventh inning and protect an 8-1 lead. After a one-out single by Manuel Margot, Joey Wendle hit a double to deep center that deflected off Cody Bellinger’s glove, prompting Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts to go to his bullpen again. Lefty Victor González came on to face Michael Brosseau, who singled to right to score Margot. Kevin Kiermaier followed with an RBI single. González avoided further damage by snaring a Mike Zunino line drive back up the middle and doubling Brosseau off second base.

Kershaw was dominant, allowing one run on two hits, walking one and striking out eight on only 78 pitches. Fox’s Tom Verducci reported that he generated 19 swings and misses, which was more than he did in his previous three World Series starts combined.

2:39 a.m.
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Mookie Betts homers, Dodgers take 8-1 lead into the seventh inning

By Scott Allen

Rays pitcher Josh Fleming replaced Ryan Yarbrough to start the bottom of the sixth inning and gave up an opposite field home run to Mookie Betts on his first pitch of the game. After Corey Seager popped out, Justin Turner and Max Muncy ripped back-to-back doubles to score another run and extend the Dodgers’ lead to 8-1.

Turner began the top of the sixth inning with the defensive play of the game, a diving stab and perfect throw across the diamond to retire Yandy Diaz.

2:26 a.m.
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Dodgers extend lead to 6-1 after five innings

By Scott Allen

After getting Cody Bellinger to pop out for the second out of the fifth, Rays reliever Ryan Yarbrough allowed RBI singles to Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández that extended the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1 and closed the book on Tyler Glasnow. The most surprising number in Glasnow’s final line, which included six walks and eight strikeouts, was his pitch count (112), the highest by a Rays pitcher all season.

According to Fox, the last time a team stole three bases in one inning in the World Series, as the Dodgers did in their four-run fifth, was 1912.

2:09 a.m.
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Dodgers take 4-1 lead in the fifth inning, Rays go to their bullpen

By Scott Allen

Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a walk against Tyler Glasnow and stole second base before Corey Seager worked his third walk of the game, prompting a visit to the mound by Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder.

With Ryan Yarbrough warming in the bullpen, Glasnow struck out Justin Turner on his 103rd pitch of the game, as Betts and Seager pulled off a double steal to move into scoring position. Max Muncy followed with a one-hopper to first base, which Yandy Diaz fielded and threw home, but Betts slid in safely ahead of catcher Mike Zunino’s tag to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Will Smith then singled to center, scoring Seager and ending Glasnow’s night. It’ll be Yarbrough to face Cody Bellinger with runners on first and third and still only one out.

1:51 a.m.
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Kevin Kiermaier hits solo home run to cut Dodgers’ lead to 2-1 in the fifth

By Scott Allen

Two pitches after Clayton Kershaw struck out Willy Adames for his 200th career postseason strikeout, Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-out solo home run to right field to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 2-1. Kiermaier’s blast, the 26th homer by Tampa Bay this postseason, ended a streak of 15 consecutive batters retired by Kershaw. The Dodgers’ lefty struck out Mike Zunino to end the inning.

1:33 a.m.
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Cody Bellinger gives the Dodgers a 2-0 lead with fourth inning home run

By Scott Allen

Cody Bellinger’s shoulder is just fine. With Max Muncy on first base after a walk to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Bellinger hit a one-out homer to right-center field off Tyler Glasnow to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Bellinger, who dislocated his right shoulder after celebrating his go-ahead home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series a little too aggressively, took it easy after touching home plate this time, exchanging toe taps with his teammates en route to the dugout.

Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw is dealing. After a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, he looks as dominant as he did in Game 2 of this year’s wild-card series against the Milwaukee Brewers, when he struck out 13 over eight scoreless innings. Kershaw’s six strikeouts leave him one shy of joining Justin Verlander as the only pitchers with at least 200 career strikeouts in the postseason.

1:14 a.m.
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Tyler Glasnow strikes out the side in the third inning

By Scott Allen

Clayton Kershaw has retired eight in a row and has four strikeouts after sending Mike Zunino and Brandon Lowe down swinging in the third inning.

Tyler Glasnow has two more strikeouts than the Dodgers’ lefty in his first World Series start after striking out the side, including Mookie Betts on a 98 mph fastball. Glasnow issued a two-out walk to Corey Seager in the frame, and his pitch count is at 56 heading to the fourth inning of a scoreless game.

12:55 a.m.
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Clayton Kershaw and Tyler Glasnow are settling in

By Scott Allen

Clayton Kershaw had a more efficient second inning, setting the Rays down in order on 11 pitches and nothing his second strikeout of the game. Rays starter Tyler Glasnow allowed a two-out single to Chris Taylor before striking out Joc Pederson to end the inning.

The Rays, who were among the pioneers of the defensive shifts that have become the norm across baseball, used a four-man outfield configuration when Will Smith came to the plate to lead off the inning. He struck out.

12:37 a.m.
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The Rays and Dodgers are scoreless after one

By Scott Allen

Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, who gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings in his last start, worked around a one-out walk to Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager by getting Justin Turner and Max Muncy to fly out.

12:27 a.m.
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Clayton Kershaw works out of trouble in the first inning

By Scott Allen

Pitching on normal rest for the first time this postseason, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw had a rocky first inning, but escaped unscathed. Rays first baseman Yandy Díaz opened the game with a leadoff single before Brandon Lowe popped out to third.

After rookie sensation Randy Arozarea walked on five pitches to put two runners on, Kershaw struck out cleanup hitter Hunter Renfroe on a curveball in the dirt and got Manuel Margot on a tapper back to the mound. Kershaw threw 20 pitches in the frame, only 11 of them for strikes.

12:15 a.m.
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Front-line workers throw ceremonial first pitch

By Scott Allen

Pentatonix, a pop group formed in Arlington, Tex., sang the virtual national anthem, which was followed by a military flyover. With no rain in the forecast, the retractable roof of Globe Life Field is open on an 80-degree night.

Four local front-line workers were honored in center field before the ceremonial first pitch, which Jamie Edens threw to her husband and fellow nurse Ryan Ward. Edens and Ward, who live in Oklahoma, drove to New York in the early stages of the novel coronavirus pandemic to help treat patients.

11:50 p.m.
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For the Dodgers, Mookie Betts has changed the game

By Dave Sheinin

The Los Angeles Dodgers have several, complex reasons for believing this is the most complete of their eight consecutive division-champion playoff teams, the first seven of which ended with October defeats: their enviable starting pitching depth, the many recent dividends of their player-development machine, the maturing of core players such as Corey Seager, Walker Buehler and Cody Bellinger.

But the simplest reason is this: Those teams didn’t have Mookie Betts, and this one does.

“Mookie kind of separates himself, I think, with the consistency,” said left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ longtime ace. “The other things he can do on the baseball field if he happens to not be getting hits — that’s what separates him. There’s also a confidence there — just a really calming influence. Thankfully, he’s on our team.”