Chris Taylor is no stranger to playoff baseball.
The former Virginia star and current Los Angeles Dodger has played in 47 postseason games—all coming since the 2017 season. Early in his playoff career, Taylor was a consistent home run producer, smacking four in his first 17 career postseason games, including two in the 2017 NLCS and one in the 2017 World Series.
Taylor went through a bit of a power drought of late, going 29 postseason games without a home run. That changed Wednesday night, when he became the first Los Angeles Dodgers No. 9 hitter to homer in a World Series game since Kirk Gibson’s famous walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series.
The fifth-inning, two-run long ball broke up a no-hitter from Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell.
“The home run that he hit, that’s a great at-bat,” Snell said. “Tip your cap, good job.”
Finding success off Snell proved to be difficult for the Dodgers on Wednesday night. Typically one of the best offenses in baseball, it took Los Angeles until Taylor’s fifth-inning home run to tally a hit and run off Snell. The offense clicked after Taylor’s home run, but the quality at-bats came too late.
A slow start doomed the Dodgers in their 6-4 loss in Game 2 of the World Series. Snell deserves credit for striking out nine batters in an effective 4 2/3 innings.
“I felt like I had a good game plan,” Snell said. “Obviously not gonna share to much because I’m probably gonna have to face them again, but I would just say I had a solid game plan.”
Taylor, who benefited from a controversial ball call on a pitch low in the zone that helped him work the count to 2-1, took advantage of a rare mistake on a Snell breaking ball and hit the ball the opposite way for a home run over the right field fence.
“He left a curveball up, and I saw it pop and put a good swing on it,” Taylor said after the game.
The former Virginia standout also credited Kiké Hernández with drawing a walk prior to his two-out home run. Plate discipline helped put Hernández aboard, which kept the inning alive and allowed Taylor to put the Dodgers on the board with a pair of runs.
“I thought Kiké did a really good job of making him throw strikes, getting him in the zone,” Taylor said. “He had a great at-bat, worked the count and was able to get that walk.”
Tampa Bay’s win evens the series at 1-1 with Game 3 coming Friday night.
Through two World Series games, Taylor has been extremely productive at the plate. He went 2-for-3 in Game 1 with a pair of singles before his 1-for-4 performance with a home run in Game 2. He currently has a four-game hitting streak, which ties the longest streak of his postseason career.
Taylor’s appearance in the 2020 World Series marks five consecutive seasons that a former Virginia player has competed for an MLB championship. UVa is the only baseball program with a former player in the past five World Series Championships, according to UVa’s athletic department.
Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman won the 2019 World Series as members of the Washington Nationals. Taylor represented the Dodgers in World Series losses in both 2017 and 2018. Derek Fisher won a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017, and Brandon Guyer was a member of the Cleveland Indians in 2016.
Taylor’s appearance in the World Series is the third of his career, and he’s hoping to finally capture the elusive title. He did his best to help the effort Wednesday, albeit in a loss.
Los Angeles has its hands full against a Tampa Bay team with excellent pitching.
“They’re a very good team,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They’re the best team in the American League. They pitch well. They defend well. They give you tough at-bats, and for us to beat them, we’ve got to play good baseball.”