Baseball is unpredictable.
With the Dodgers backs against the wall, they somehow fought back.
Max Muncy hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 18th inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, in the longest game in World Series history.
"This was a gut-wrenching game for both sides," said Muncy following the win. "This is one of those games that whoever came out on top is going to have a lot of momentum going into tomorrow. This was an extremely long game, 18 innings. A lot of pitchers were used. Every position player was used. Injuries on both sides. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up. It's one of those things when you're able to come out on top from a game like this, you have to feel it gives you a little momentum going to the next one."
Boston still leads the series, two games to one.
Muncy took a 90MPH cutter from Nathan Eovaldi to opposite field in left-center to end a marathon game that saw both teams burn through 18 pitchers and 27 position players (both postseason records), in a seven-hour and 20-minute affair.
"I fell behind 3-0 and just wasn’t able to execute my pitch," Eovaldi said of the homer to Muncy. "It’s difficult. When you go that far, you want to come out on top. He was clutch right there. It’s frustrating."
Before that, Eovaldi pitched six innings of relief, allowing no runs, while throwing 97pitches. Oh yeah, and he pitched in Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston.
"When he came in, I asked him, 'How do you feel?' He's like, 'Let me finish it,'" said Red Sox manager Alex Cora of Eovaldi after the 17th inning. "So his stuff was still good. The last out, Turner, that was good. And then Muncy put a good swing on it, and hit it out of the ballpark."
The exhausting and exhilarating game began as a pitcher's duel between former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and rookie Walker Buehler.
With Sandy Koufax watching from behind home plate, Buehler, the 24-year-old rookie, became just the second youngest Dodgers pitcher in postseason history to have a scoreless start since Johnny Podres threw a complete game shutout in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at 23 years old.
"It's pretty cool, but at the same time, this is something I've probably pictured for a long time," said Buehler of his start. "I'm just glad it worked out the way it did. It's a pretty special moment for me."
The Dodgers took the lead in the third inning when Joc Pederson crushed a first pitch changeup from Rick Porcello into the Boston bullpen.
The longball snapped an 0-for-24 slump by Dodgers hitters against the Red Sox dating back to the fourth inning of Game 2.
The story before Game 1 was all about All-Star pitchers in Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. In Game 2 it was all about Cy Young Award winner David Price dominating the Dodgers lineup. Yet in a series that has featured three different Cy Young Award winners, and a seven-time All-Star, it was the unassuming rookie with the famous last name that became the first to pitch into the seventh inning.
Against the best team in baseball, on the biggest stage the sport offers, Buehler surrendered just two hits, and retired the last 14 batters he faced as he struck out seven over seven scoreless innings.
"I think that certain people can handle a moment like this and understand what was at stake tonight," said Roberts of Buehler. "We needed his best effort. And we needed him to go deeper than their starter, log some innings. And some guys run from it. Some guys can't answer the bell. But this guy, he's got an overt confidence, a quiet confidence, a little combo. But he's got tremendous stuff. And he lives for moments like this."
If writing his name in Dodgers history wasn't enough for Buehler, he also joined elite company as he became the second pitcher to have at least seven strikeouts, two or fewer base runners and not allow a run over seven innings since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
"His stuff is amazing," Cora said of Buehler. "We were putting good at-bats early on, and all of a sudden he started throwing cutters and changeups, and he was able to keep us off balance. For him to go seven at this stage, they needed it and he did an outstanding job."
After Buehler's dominant performance, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wanted just one man to pitch the final two innings of the game: All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
"We felt that in a must-win game to go to Kenley for two innings, we liked that," said Roberts of his decision. "That was the plan."
Maybe he should have rethought that decision.
Jackie Bradley Jr. took Jansen deep with two outs in the eighth inning for the game-tying homer.
"It didn't work out," admitted Roberts of the blown save by Jansen.
Bradley Jr.'s homer was the 14th allowed by Jansen during the 2018 season, he had never allowed more than six in any previous season.
The game would head to extra innings where the Red Sox threatened to take the lead in the top of the 10th.
Pedro Baez walked J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler entered the game to pinch-run for him. After a single by Brock Holt put runners at the corners with out one, Eduardo Nuñez hit a fly ball to centerfield that appeared to be deep enough to score the tying run.
But Cody Bellinger had other ideas as the center fielder threw a cannon to catcher Austin Barnes who tagged out Kinsler just before the plate, keeping the score tied at 1-1.
"I thought for sure that game wasn’t going to end," Bellinger said after the threw out Kinsler at home. "I thought we’d have to wake up in the morning to finish it. I'm just glad Max Muncy hit that home run so we can go home and sleep."
Both bullpens continued to throw lights out, but with two of the best teams in baseball battling head-to-head, a game with a razor-thin margin of error was bound to come down to one fatal mistake.
Ironically, it came down to two, as both teams scored on bizarre errors in the 13th inning.
Brock Holt led off the inning with a walk. One pitch later, Holt stole second on a ball in the dirt, and he scored on dribbler back to the pitcher that turned into disaster for the Dodgers.
Nuñez, who broke Game 1 open with a three-run homer, hit a little nubber back to reliever Scott Alexander, but first baseman Max Muncy was charging in on the play, so second baseman Kiké Hernandez had to hustle to cover first base.
Alexander threw underhand to Hernandez, but he slipped on the base and the ball flew over his head, allowing Holt to score from third and the Red Sox to finally take their first lead of the game, more than five hours after the first pitch had been thrown.
"It was a flukey thing," Clayton Kershaw who had to enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the 17th inning said of the 13th. "It was in no-man's land with that grounder. It seems fitting for this game. Both were just really weird plays."
Less than a week away from Halloween, it's fitting that the 13th inning proved to be the most bizzare for both teams. In fact, it's a surprise a black cat didn't run onto the field or a witch fly overhead on her broomstick.
The Dodgers half of the unlucky 13th inning began with Muncy staring at 101MPH fastballs from Eovaldi. Eventually, he worked a walk, putting the tying run on base.
After a flyout from Machado, Bellinger hit a fly ball in foul territory down the third base line that Nuñez dove into the seats to catch. Muncy wisely tagged on the play, and found himself in scoring position with two outs.
Yasiel Puig followed with a groundball up the middle that Ian Kinsler backhanded for what appeared to be the final out of the game. But Kinsler's throw went wide at first base, allowing Muncy to score on the error and tie the game.
Both teams squandered numerous chances with the former Dodger, Eovaldi, holding the team that drafted him back in 2008 in check for seven innings until Muncy's big blast in the bottom of the 18th.
Muncy's walk-off homer was his first career walk-off hit of any kind, and the first walk-off home run in the World Series for the Dodgers since Kirk Gibson's legendary longball in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic.
"Obviously there's not many words I can use to describe that," Muncy said of his walk-off homer. "The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement. That's about all I can think of because it's hard to describe how good a feeling it is."
Boston's loss snapped a five-game road winning streak dating back to the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Rich Hill will get the ball in Game 4 as the Dodgers look to even the series, with the Red Sox starter still to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 5:09 p.m. PT.
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