By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Chances are we’ll never see another game like Game 3 of the 2018 World Series again.
It was bordering on the theater of the absurd, as the Red Sox and Dodgers essentially played two games Friday night/Saturday morning. They needed 18 innings and over seven hours to determine a winner, as the Dodgers came out victorious 3-2 on Max Muncy’s walk-off solo homer off Nathan Eovaldi. It was a dramatic conclusion to an all-around epic battle, a roller coaster of emotional for anyone who stuck it out. Heck, it was still a roller coaster even if you took a quick cat nap or grabbed another coffee at some point in the middle.
The Red Sox’ lead in the series is now 2-1, and we have no idea who is going to start Game 4 for them on Saturday night. But before we turn our attention to the next clash between these two, there is a whole lot to digest from Game 3+.
Longest. Game. Ever
But you probably knew that already. How could a seven-hour, 20-minute game that went 18 innings not be? Not only was it the longest World Series game ever, but it was the longest playoff game ever (time-wise).
The teams threw 561 pitches total, and 46 players were used in this one. A total 18 pitchers were used, a new record. By the end, the Red Sox didn’t have any position players left and only two pitchers in the bullpen.
But the most ridiculous stat of them all is that this one game took longer than the entire 1939 World Series.
Walker Buehler Was Awesome
The 24-year-old rookie was a mere afterthought when Muncy hit his game-winner, but he baffled the Red Sox bats for seven innings. Buehler gave Los Angeles seven shutout innings and struck out seven. He had six 1-2-3 innings in a unbelievable performance that very few will remember.
Nate Eovaldi Is A Trooper
He was slated to start Game 4, but knew there was a chance he’d be called upon Friday night (or Saturday morning). But Eovaldi probably didn’t expect to throw six-plus innings and 97 pitches. He threw more pitches than Boston starter Rick Porcello, and unfortunately got tagged with the loss.
“We’re all willing to die out there. Nathan showed that tonight,” Porcello said after the loss.
Eovaldi has been a warrior this postseason, but that’s a lot of pitches for him to throw in a relief appearance. Who knows how much he’ll have left in the tank going forward, or when we’ll see him next.
But if he still has an arm after this postseason, the Red Sox should sign him to a lifetime contract.
Jackie Bradley Jr. Homered Again
He was supposed to be the odd man out in the outfield. Instead he started, and rewarded Cora with a game-tying solo homer in the top of the eighth. It was his third blast of the playoffs, and the 10th run he’s driven in with two outs.
Boston’s Top Four Hitters Did NOTHING
The top of the Boston lineup was bad in Game 3. Really bad.
Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, and J.D. Martinez combined to go 0-for-23. They struck out nine times (nine times). Betts and Bogaerts left nine batters on base, half of the team’s total for the game.
It was a brutal seven hours for the top of the Red Sox lineup.
Ian Kinsler Had A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Game
Kinsler entered in the 10th inning as a pinch runner for Martinez. What followed was an absolute nightmare.
He was nearly picked off at first. He made it from first to third on a single by Brock Holt, but slid by the base and was nearly tagged out. When Eduardo Nunez lifted a fly ball to center the very next at-bat, Kinsler was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.
But his biggest mistake came in the bottom of the 13th, right after the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead. Kinsler had the final out in his glove but threw it away. He backhanded a sharp grounder by Yasiel Puig and slipped a bit as he turned to throw. He had time to correct himself, but instead threw it wide of first, allowing Muncy to score the game-tying run.
Kinsler was accountable after the game, taking all the blame for the loss and making his teammates play an extra five innings. That’s commendable, but it doesn’t make Kinsler’s performance any easier to stomach.
At least tomorrow is a new day. Or is that today, technically? So would Sunday be the new day? Who knows. Either way, as a veteran brought in for his glove, Kinsler has to be better at the most fundamental parts of the game.
Nunez Fell All Over The Place
He was taken out by the catcher on a wild pitch. He then hit the dirt with a head-first slide into first base (he was safe and a run scored). In the field, he ran down a foul popup and landed in the stands. And then he stumbled on the mound catching a pop up in the 16th.
Each time, Nunez had a little visit from the trainer. There were times it didn’t look like he could keep going, yet he stayed in. Because he kind of had to, since Cora didn’t have anyone to replace him (though the game really could have used a few innings of Drew Pomeranz at third base).
Nunez took an absolute beating, but he went 2-for-4 and said he’s ready to go after the game. We’ll see how he feels after the adrenaline wears off.
Only Manny Machado could pimp out a single like this.
In a 1-0 game in the bottom of the sixth, Machado thought he got all of a Joe Kelly offer. He admired it, wrote a love song about it, and even considering introducing it to his parents. All the while, he loafed his way down the the line.
Boy did he look bad when it wasn’t a homer. And it never was. It was a low liner that hit a third of the way up on the left field fence, and by the time Machado realized that, Martinez had already played the carom off the wall and fired it into the infield.
Instead of an easy double, Machado was on first with an embarrassingly long single. That was his only hit of the night, as he went 1-for-7.
Someone is still going to give him truckloads of money in the offseason, but this was just another example of Machado not really caring. In a must-win World Series game, that’s a tad bit troubling.
Cora Moved His Outfielders Around
Who would play in the outfield was the big hullabaloo ahead of the game. Martinez got the start in left field with Andrew Benintendi hitting the bench.
But Cora moved his outfielders a few times during the marathon game for matchup purposes, moving Betts from right to center and Bradley Jr. from center to left (with Martinez moving from left to right, and eventually, Brock Holt from left to right). Got it?
Here’s what you’ll see in the box score: Betts, RF-CF-RF-CF-RF-CF-RF. That’s not something you see very often in the regular season, let alone the World Series.
Game 4 Concerns
Now it’s all about bouncing back. The Red Sox and Dodgers have to be exhausted, both physically and mentally. And they have a game to play less than 17 hours after the conclusion of this wild ride.
But the Boston pitching staff is a major, major concern right now. We don’t know who will start Game 4, but what’s certain is it won’t be Eovaldi. After Porcello was lifted after 61 pitches (a tad early, if you want to criticize Cora for something), Boston used eight pitchers to get through Game 3.
Eduardo Rodriguez only threw six pitches, so he may be able to start Game 4. We’ll find out in a few short hours.
Until then, get some sleep.