Max Muncy ends longest game in World Series history with Game 3 home run
The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series on Friday night. It was an 18-inning affair that doubled as the longest game in World Series history. As a result, the Red Sox now lead the best-of-seven series by a 2-1 margin. The two sides will play again in Los Angeles on Saturday.
But before we learn whether or not the series will last that long, let's focus on what happened Friday -- and, well, into Saturday. Here are 11 things you need to know about Game 3.
1. Muncy walks it off
It took until the 18th, but Max Muncy ended the game with a walk-off homer against Nathan Eovaldi, who was nearing 100 pitches in relief. In the process, he made some history: Earlier in the game, in the 15th, Muncy had nearly ended the game on a long flyball that went foul. With one swing, Muncy seemed to breathe new life into the Dodgers' championship hopes. We'll see if it they remain.
2. Nunez central in unusual 13th
Eduardo Nunez has been critiqued throughout the postseason for a lack of production and poor defense. He's making up for it in this series, including with a crucial Game 1 home run.
In Game 3, Nunez came to the plate in the top of the 13th and was upended during the at-bat when Austin Barnes attempted to retrieve a ball. Brock Holt was able to advance to second. It looked like Nunez was injured and may have to exit -- which would've been an issue, considering the Red Sox had exhausted their position player supply.
Soon thereafter, Nunez hit a grounder to the pitcher and raced to first in an attempt to reach on an infield single. He was safe no matter what, as the ball got away, but remained down once more. Again Nunez stayed in. Perhaps the fact that Holt had scored the go-ahead run helped ease whatever pain he was in at the time.
No one expected Nunez to play a big role in this series. Yet he continued to do so in the bottom half of the frame. Nunez made a running grab on a pop-up from his shifted position, causing him to go into the stands. That allowed Max Muncy to advance to second, and he'd soon score on an error by Ian Kinsler that would've ended the game had it been an out.
Rather, the game roared on, ensuring that Nunez's heroics would soon be overshadowed.
3. Red Sox bullpen keeps them in it
Speaking of unlikely heroes, the Red Sox bullpen started its long night in the fifth, when Rick Porcello departed after 4 2/3 innings. Porcello had allowed a run at that point, but the Dodgers wouldn't add to their total in the frame.
Rather, Eduardo Rodriguez escaped the fifth. Then Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Heath Hembree, and Nathan Eovaldi -- who was originally scheduled to start Game 4 on Saturday -- combined to keep the Dodgers off the board over the ensuing nine-plus frames. Obviously Eovaldi gave up a run (unearned) in the 13th and then another (earned) in the 18th, but the Red Sox bullpen essentially threw a hidden shutout.
Despite the final result, Eovaldi in particular deserves kudos for essentially throwing his start a night ahead of time.
4. Bellinger redeems self in eventful 10th
Cody Bellinger was picked off despite representing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. He made up for it in the 10th inning.
First, to set up the scene: the Red Sox had runners on the corners with one out. If only it was that straightforward. Ian Kinsler, who was on third, had nearly been picked off at first base (replay confirmed he was safe), and later was almost tagged out after over-sliding third:
Kinsler attempted to score on a Nunez fly to center, yet Bellinger made a strong throw on the catch. Austin Barnes was able to catch the ball up the third-base line and apply the tag, sending the game into the bottom of the 10th tied at 1-1.
5. Buehler was fantastic
It can be argued that Walker Buehler was the Dodgers' most reliable starter in the regular season. He started eight more games than Hyun-Jin Ryu did, and posted a better ERA and FIP than everyone else in Los Angeles' rotation. Wherever he ranked, he looked like No. 1 on Friday.
Buehler threw seven innings, permitting two hits and no runs. He struck out seven batters. Both the hits he allowed came in the third inning, and each was a bases-empty single. Buehler generated 12 swinging strikes on 108 pitches -- 10 of those came on fastball varieties. By the way, he averaged 98 mph on his heater and maxed out at 100 mph.
Keep in mind, this was Buehler's first career World Series start. His team was in a 2-0 hole. He was facing a lineup that tends to score runs and doesn't tend to strike out. Add it all together and this was one of the best pitching performances we've seen all month.
6. Jansen stretches, blows save
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had not appeared in the World Series prior to Friday. It was a safe bet, then, that he would get into the game at some point, provided it was close. Boy, did he. Dave Roberts tasked Jansen with working the eighth and ninth for his seventh two-plus-inning appearance in the last three postseasons.
Alas, Jansen didn't close the door. Instead, he allowed a game-tying home run to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth. He did recover to keep the game tied through the rest of the eighth and the ninth. But his appearance does raise questions about whether he'll be available -- or, perhaps, for how long -- in each of the subsequent games in Los Angeles.
7. Bradley Jr. comes up big once more
Give Bradley Jr. credit: Dude makes the most of his hits.
Entering the night, Bradley Jr. had six hits this postseason. Two were home runs, another two were doubles. He added two more hits on Friday, with one being a game-tying homer against Jansen:
Bradley Jr. won the ALCS MVP award by virtue of coming up with a couple of big hits. He's unlikely to win the World Series MVP, but he played an important role in Game 3 all the same.
8. Pederson homers again
Pederson entered the night a career .247/.340/.473 postseason hitter in 40 games.
9. Machado gets in trouble over hustle
Manny Machado raised eyebrows during the NLCS when he disclosed that he knows he's not a big-time hustler -- and that he's unsure if he can change that. Everyone is likely to be reminded of those comments after what he did on Friday, watching a ball he perceived to be a home run -- then regretting it after the ball banged off the wall and he was held to a single:
The next batter, Cody Bellinger, made an out to end the inning. In a sense, it probably didn't matter either way. But reasonable people can agree there's a difference between running out a routine grounder and making an effort to leg out a potential extra-base hit in the World Series.
10. History says ….
You might wonder what the empirical data says about a best-of-seven series entering a 2-1 state like the one in front of us. According to the Baseball Gauge, the host team -- the Red Sox, in this case -- goes on to win 73.2 percent of the time.