LOS ANGELES — The last time the Red Sox ventured so deep into a World Series game, Carlton Fisk hit a somewhat famous home run off the leftfield foul pole in the 12th inning in Game 6 in 1975. It's been replayed a few thousand times over the years. Chances are you've seen it.
The Red Sox found themselves on the other end of a classic World Series marathon Friday night, this one the longest ever in terms of both time and innings.
At one point they were one out away from a three-games-to-none lead, but instead the Red Sox took a 3-2, 18-inning loss that was every bit as devastating as the one Fisk dealt the Reds. Maybe even more so.
The Dodgers' Max Muncy led off the bottom of the 18th with a walk-off homer off Nathan Eovaldi -- three innings after Muncy led off the 15th with a bid for a walk-off homer off Eovaldi, a drive to right that barely curved foul.
After Eduardo Nunez’s hustle created a run that gave the Red Sox the lead in the top of the 13th, the Dodgers tied it in the bottom half on Ian Kinsler’s two-out throwing error. Then the teams trudged on for five more innings in a 7-hour, 20-minute game that ended at 3:30 a.m. ET Saturday, which meant it was Saturday even in Los Angeles.
Each team used nine pitchers, with the Red Sox throwing 283 pitches and the Dodgers throwing 278.
The teams somehow will tee it up again at just after 5 p.m. local time on Saturday for Game 4, and it’s anyone’s guess what their physical condition will be.
Eovaldi had been scheduled to start Game 4, but he threw 97 pitches in Game 3. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Saturday's starting pitcher: “How do you spell that, ‘TBA’? TBA . . . We'll map it out tomorrow. There are a few guys that are lining up in my office to start the game tomorrow. We'll decide what we'll do and we'll be fine.”
Rich Hill was scheduled to start Game 4 for the Dodgers, but the team tweeted well after Game 3 concluded: "The Dodgers’ World Series Game 4 starter is now TBD."
Eovaldi came on to start the 12th inning and was heroic in relief but took the loss. Beginning his seventh inning, he left a cutter up that Muncy drove to the opposite field, with the ball just clearing the left-centerfield wall for his third homer of the postseason.
Rick Porcello, who started the game for the Red Sox, said he was moved to tears by Eovaldi's effort in relief. “That was the most incredible pitching performance I’ve ever seen,” Porcello said.
Muncy said of winning a World Series game with a home run after starting the season in the minors: “This whole year has been a surreal experience that's hard to put into words. But just getting a chance to play in the World Series has kind of capped it off. And then getting a chance to hit a walk-off home run, obviously there's not many words I can use to describe that. 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.”
He added, “Kind of when you go through a game like that, that's gut-wrenching on both sides. To be able to come out on top of that, regardless of what the standings were for the series, that's a huge win for us. And to get us back into the series at 2-1 makes it even that much bigger of a win.
"A long game like that in this kind of atmosphere, the top of baseball, the World Series, just playing five innings exhausts you when you're talking about this kind of mental stress and the magnitude of every single play. You throw in 18 innings, I imagine both sides right now are feeling it. But that's kind of what we have to deal with. We've got to go home and get ready for tomorrow.”
The game ended with Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez at first base, no position players left on either bench and the teams using a combined 46 players.
With the Dodgers four outs from victory, Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. homered off Kenley Jansen with two outs in the eighth inning to tie the score at 1-1. That matched a third-inning homer by the Dodgers' Joc Pederson off Porcello.
After Brock Holt worked a leadoff walk against lefty reliever Scott Alexander in the 13th, Nuñez — whose pinch-hit three-run homer sealed Game 1 — came to the plate. Alexander unleashed a wild pitch and, as Nuñez moved out of the way, catcher Austin Barnes, in his pursuit of the ball, upended the infielder (picture a chop block), who fell hard. The training staff tended to Nuñez, who, after a few minutes, stayed in.
Nuñez then hit a dribbler in front of the plate and flopped headfirst into first base as Alexander’s flip sailed by for an error and Holt scored to make it 2-1. Nunez remained on the ground for several more minutes but stayed in -- and in the bottom of the 13th, he tumbled into the stands to catch a foul ball for the second out.
The Red Sox nearly scored in the 10th inning, but with runners on first and third and one out, Nunez lined to center and Cody Bellinger threw out Kinsler at the plate. After scoring in the 13th, the Red Sox left the bases loaded, and they put runners on first and second with none out in the 15th but stranded them.
Bradley's home run flushed a brilliant seven-inning outing by Dodgers rookie righthander Walker Buehler, who left with a 1-0 lead. The Dodgers had taken only their second lead of the series with two outs in the third when Pederson jumped on a first-pitch changeup and lined it to right for his second homer of the postseason.
As Buehler walked off the mound after his 108th and final pitch of the night, a 98-mph fastball that struck out J.D. Martinez, none other than the legendary Sandy Koufax, 82, seated near the Dodgers’ dugout, gave him a standing ovation. It was well-earned.
Buehler, 24, the youngest pitcher to start a World Series game for the Dodgers since 20-year-old Fernando Valenzuela started Game 2 of the 1981 Series against the Yankees, allowed two hits and no walks, struck out seven and retired the final 14 hitters he faced. Buehler allowed only one runner to get in scoring position.
Having been burned by his bullpen twice in the first two games, primarily by Ryan Madson, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took no chances, calling on Jansen in the eighth for a six-out save.
He retired Holt on a flyout and struck out Rafael Devers before falling behind 2-and-0 to Bradley. The ALCS MVP then pounced on a cutter, driving it well into the rightfield seats for his third homer of the postseason.
Bradley went only 3-for-15 in five games in the ALCS but drove in nine runs with a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3 and a two-run homer in Game 4. Just like his homer on Friday night, all three key hits came with two outs.
Jansen then pitched a scoreless ninth and was followed to the mound by Pedro Baez, Madson, Alexander, Dylan Floro, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias and winning pitcher Alex Wood.
Porcello allowed one run and three hits in 4 2/3 efficient innings, walking one and striking out five. Eduardo Rodriguez, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, Game 2 starter David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Heath Hembree and Eovaldi followed Porcello to the mound.
“I’m tired,'' said Bellinger, whose throw home in the 10th had kept the score tied and possibly saved the Dodgers' season. "But feeling a lot better 2-1 instead of 3-0, that’s for sure.”