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Odds against Rays in World Series, but they're not out of it

While history is not on the Rays' side after their Game 1 loss, you can't count them out.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have some catching up to do if they want to bring their first championship home. They lost Tuesday night's opening game of the World Series 8-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As the Rays head into Game 2 with a 1-0 deficit, we wanted to take a deeper dive into their chances of coming back to win it all. So we dug through more than a century of baseball history to find out.

Game 1 losers' (lack of) success

Through the first 115 World Series dating back to 1903, the team that lost the first game has come back to win 42 times. That's less than 37% of the time.

The odds seem to plummet if you focus on recent history. Since 2000, just four teams have won the title after dropping Game 1. The most recent was the 2017 Houston Astros, who went the full seven games to beat the Dodgers. The 2016 Chicago Cubs, 2009 New York Yankees and 2002 Anaheim Angels also overcame series-opening defeats to win it all. Of those, only the Yankees took fewer than seven games to do it.

The Rays fell behind 1-0 in their previous World Series appearance in 2008. They beat the Phillies in Game 2 at Tropicana Field, but lost the next three in Philadelphia.

But Tampa Bay can look back to decades past for a little inspiration. Seven World Series in the 1950s, including five straight from 1955-59, ended with the Game 1 loser as the champion of the world. It also happened four times in the '80s (1982-83, 85-86).

Game 2 is a must-win

There's no understating how important it is for the Rays to bounce back and take Game 2. If they don't, their chances get a whole lot slimmer.

Just 11 of the 42 teams that overcame a 1-0 World Series deficit went down 2-0 before coming back to win. The 1996 Yankees are the only team to accomplish this in the last 30 years. A decade earlier, though, both the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the 1986 New York Mets turned it around after starting with two losses.

There's another glimmer of hope for the Rays -- in the opposing dugout. Their World Series rivals, the Dodgers, lost the first two games of this year's National League Championship Series before coming back to beat the Atlanta Braves in seven.

Game 2 of the World Series starts tonight at 8:08 p.m. EDT at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. A limited number of fans are allowed into each game.

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