It played out like a long drama, filled with plot twists and unexpected heroes. It ended with Dodger first baseman Max Muncy, who was basically unwanted in 2016 by the Oakland A’s, stroking a home run in the bottom of the 18th inning to win an instant classic over the Red Sox, 3-2. As a result, L.A. now trails the World Series two games to one.
It was the first walk-off Series win for the Dodgers since 1988 when Kirk Gibson walked off against the A’s in game one. Muncy became the first player to hit a walk-off in a World Series since David Freese, who happens to be Muncy’s team mate, did so for the Cardinals in 2001.
The folks at Elias and other sport research firms will have a lot of rewriting to do in their record books. It was the longest game in post-season history in terms of time (seven hours and 20 minutes) and in innings played (18). No other World Series game had gone more than 14 innings. Both teams emptied their dugouts and bullpen as a total of 46 players were used–23 for each team which is a record.
Game four of the World Series is later today at 8:09PM with Rich Hill likely to pitch for the Dodgers. It is not known as of this writing who will start for the Sox. Nathan Eovaldi was supposed to start game four, but threw nearly 100 pitches in relief in game three, yielding the game winning home run by Muncy. He was otherwise brilliant in a six-inning plus performance.
Dodger rookie Walker Buehler started and pitched a gem, limiting the potent Boston offense to just two singles. In a tremendous performance that will likely end up as a footnote in this epic battle, Buehler was in complete command and did not allow a Red Sox player to advance to second base retiring the last 14 batters he faced. He threw a career high 108 pitches in 7 innings of work. L.A. closer Kenley Jensen entered in the eighth to attempt a six-out save but gave up a game-tying solo homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. after two were out. Jensen stayed in the game and pitched a clean ninth.
The Dodgers had taken the lead in the third on a solo home run by Joc Pederson off of Boston starter Rick Porcello. That hit was the first Dodger hit of any kind since a Yasiel Puig single in the fourth inning of game two. Porcello pitched 4.2 innings allowing only three hits before being replaced by Eduardo Rodriguez who faced only one batter.
Both teams scored in the thirteenth inning. The Red Sox plated a run without hitting the ball out of the infield when Brock Holt scored from second after an errant throw by Dodger pitcher Scott Alexander on a slow roller by Eduardo Nunez. In the bottom of the frame, the Dodgers were down to their last out when Puig hit a grounder to second that Boston second baseman Ian Kinsler fielded but appeared to get his cleats stuck in the infield grass and proceeded to throw wildly to first allowing Muncy to score from second. The game continued another two hours until Max Muncy’s heroics in the 18th.
Boston manager Alex Cora could come under some criticism over the way he managed in game three. He used Eovaldi for the third straight Series game and substituted so frequently that by the end of the game, most of the Red Sox stars were on the bench. He maintains he plays every game like it is a game seven, but in this case he will have a very thin bullpen in game four and has not yet named a starter. Only Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale were not used in game 3. The top of the lineup also struggled for the Sox as the top four spots in the line-up went 0-28 with 12 strikeouts.
No doubt, much will be discussed when the topic of this historic game three of the 2018 World Series arises, with what-ifs aplenty. What is clear is that the Dodgers are back in it and have a chance to tie things up later today.
The Dodgers showed a finesse they lacked in the first two games and even though they only scored three runs, their at-bats were almost Boston-like as they made the Red Sox pitchers work hard to retire them.
With the expected adrenaline rush the Dodgers and the fans will have after this marathon, and with the next two games in the Series at Dodger Stadium, it is very likely that a competitive Series awaits. The drama may have started in game three–but it is likely there are several acts yet to follow.