LOS ANGELES – In the early-morning hours on Saturday, Rich Hill, the amiable Dodgers lefthander, synopsized what both teams felt.
“I’m going to go home,” he said, “and get some sleep. That’s what I’m going to do.”
The Dodgers and Red Sox battled for a historic 18 innings, in an equally historic 7 hours, 20 minutes, on Friday night and into Saturday morning, with the Dodgers climbing back into the 114th World Series with a 3-2 victory. The game ended at 3:30 a.m. ET.
The marathon, which set World Series records for time of game, innings played and total players used (46), gave the Dodgers life in the Series, which stood at two games to one in favor of the Red Sox entering Saturday night’s Game 4.
Hill, one of the few who didn’t appear in Game 3, started Saturday night. Boston, which had planned to start Nathan Eovaldi until he threw 97 pitches in six innings-plus of relief in Game 3 and allowed Max Muncy's game-winning homer in the 18th, went with lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez, who pitched only one-third of an inning Friday.
What either team would have left for Saturday was anyone’s guess.
The clubs combined to use a World Series-record 18 pitchers – nine each – in Game 3, a group that totaled 561 pitches.
Still, before Game 4, neither manager acknowledged the physical toll the previous night had to have taken.
“It's the World Series, man,” the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts said. “If you can't get up for this, man, you've got to find something else to do. We're fine.”
And his bullpen?
“Bullpen’s the same way,” Roberts said. “We're good.”
Roberts had Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez and Kenta Maeda throw two innings each in Game 3, but no one went longer than that.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora, of course, was on the losing end but appreciated being part of something that will be talked about for years.
“That was epic,” Cora said a few hours before Game 4. “To play baseball for seven hours and whatever minutes and to grind from pitch one all the way to the last pitch, that was awesome.”
Like Roberts, Cora said his bullpen was fine. He said the only pitcher who absolutely wouldn’t be available was Eovaldi (though the righthander commented to staff personnel earlier in the day that he could go if needed).
“As far as the pitching staff, if Eddie gives us a quality start or if he goes five, we're fine,” Cora said. “Our righties are good. The only guy that is not available is Nate, obviously, although he feels that he can go out. But yeah, we feel that we got 27 outs, probably more. So we're not tight as far as the pitching staff.”
Eduardo Nunez, whose body was strewn all over the field after entering the game as a pinch hitter for Rafael Devers in the 10th, was the only injury concern, but he was in the starting lineup Saturday at third base. Nunez got upended by Austin Barnes while the Dodgers catcher pursued a wild pitch in the 13th inning, then twisted an ankle while beating out an infield hit in the same at-bat, which ended with him belly-flopping into first base. He also tumbled into the stands after catching a foul ball in the bottom of the 13th.
“Just twisted it, and he's sore,” Cora said before smiling. “But at this point, who's not? Just happened that yesterday on that dirt ball he got hit hard, I guess, and he twisted it a little bit, and he has to sprint to first and then whatever and he was on the ground the whole time.”
Roberts -- who “slept a few hours” and said of his coffee intake that he was “three cups deep” at that point on Saturday -- thought his club’s ability to focus on the defensive side of the ball for nearly 7 ½ hours stood out. As example, he mentioned Cody Bellinger, who went 1-for-7 and ran into an out on the bases but threw out Ian Kinsler at the plate to end the top of the 10th inning.
“You can see Cody had a tough night at the plate but still made a great defensive play,” Roberts said before again speaking generally. “I thought the fight in the at-bats was good. We're a little too big with our swings. And you look at their team, I think they were guilty of that as well. And that's what happens when you start going into extras and you run into Eovaldi, who's throwing [100 mph] after seven innings. But the way that we were kind of relentless was good for me to see.”