Dodgers slip Red Sox in 18-in­ning marathon

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By Dave Sheinin The Washington Post

Los An­ge­les draws within one game with Muncy homer

LOS AN­GE­LES — Where does a World Se­ries game go as it ca­reens into its eighth hour and its 18th in­ning, af­ter two great teams, the Boston Red Sox and Los An­ge­les Dodgers, had whit­tled down to the worn, splin­tered ends of their ros­ters?

What could pos­si­bly come next, in this epic Game 3, af­ter two run-scor­ing throw­ing er­rors in the 13th in­ning, one of which broke a tie that had lasted for five tense in­nings, the other of which, an out away from com­ple­tion, tied it again? When clo­sure came, would any­one trust, in their delir­ium and ex­haus­tion, that it was real?

By a cer­tain point, it be­came clear: Game 3 wouldn’t pro­duce a win­ner and loser, only one de­pleted sur­vivor and a hope­less vic­tim, cho­sen as much by ran­dom whim and red-blood-cell count as by skill.

Congratulations, Dodgers. You won Game 3. Now what?

As Max Muncy’s op­po­site­field homer cleared the wall in left-cen­ter, giv­ing the Dodgers a 3-2 vic­tory, they hud­dled and hugged briefly near home plate, then hus­tled quickly off the field, the sound sys­tem blar­ing “I Love L.A.” The Red Sox trudged to­ward the vis­i­tors’ dugout, led by pitcher Nathan Eo­valdi, who sur­ren­dered Muncy’s homer on the 97th pitch of a re­mark­able, gutsy re­lief ap­pear­ance.

The long­est World Se­ries game in his­tory ended 7 hours, 20 min­utes af­ter it started. Baseball doesn’t stage dou­ble­head­ers in the post­sea­son — but it did, un­wit­tingly, Fri­day night. Any­one still watch­ing on the East Coast when Muncy home­red, at 3:30 a.m., raise your hand. You might have a prob­lem.

Game 4 took place Satur­day night along Vin Scully Av­enue. The Dodgers were ex­pected to send vet­eran lefty Rich Hill, whom they some­how did not de­ploy in Game 3, to the mound — but at 1:27 a.m. Pa­cific, they sent a tweet from their of­fi­cial ac­count say­ing their Game 4 starter was of­fi­cially “TBD.”

As for the Red Sox, it will come down to lefty Chris Sale, their Game 1 starter, on short rest, or lefty Drew Pomer­anz, their emer­gency op­tion.

“There were guys lin­ing up at my of­fice (of­fer­ing) to start” Game 4, Red Sox man­ager Alex Cora said. “We’ll be fine.”

The Red Sox de­ployed nine of the 11 pitch­ers on their ros­ter, and all 14 of their po­si­tion play­ers; the Dodgers, nine of their 12 pitch­ers and all 13 po­si­tion play­ers. Red Sox in­fielder Ed­uardo Nunez sac­ri­ficed his body dur­ing a se­ries of painful adventures that had him, at var­i­ous points, writhing in the dirt, tum­bling into the stands and face-plant­ing across the mound in pur­suit of a pop-up — but un­able to come out of the game be­cause the Red Sox had no more po­si­tion play­ers.

“He’s like, ‘I’m not com­ing out,’” Cora said of his con­ver­sa­tion with an in­jured Nunez. “I said, ‘Well, you can’t come out. We have no more play­ers.’”

While the Red Sox blew through their pitch­ers early and of­ten, leav­ing right-han­der Eo­valdi, two days af­ter a re­lief ap­pear­ance in Game 2, to take one for the team, the Dodgers saved enough man­power that they were able to bring in a fresh pitcher, lefty Julio Urias, in the

At a glance

17th, and yet an­other, lefty Alex Wood, in the 18th. Also in the 17th, the Dodgers scraped their bench one last time and found some­one to pinch-hit: ace pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw. He lined out.

Eo­valdi’s los­ing ef­fort — six shutout in­nings, fol­lowed by the fate­ful 3-2 cut­ter to Muncy lead­ing off the 18th — had his Red Sox team­mates on the verge of tears as they con­tem­plated his sac­ri­fice.

“Can’t put it into words,” cen­ter fielder Jackie Bradley said halt­ingly. “Tremen­dous, amaz­ing, spec­tac­u­lar. I want him on my side 10 out of 10 times. Noth­ing but love.”

Most in the crowd of 53,114 stayed un­til the end, de­spite the fact beer sales were cut off in the eighth in­ning, leav­ing a full, nine-in­ning game’s worth — and then some — of so­bri­ety to en­dure. In the 17th, when Nunez came to bat, the crowd cheered the hardy vis­i­tor, ei­ther out of ad­mi­ra­tion or pity.

A game that cy­cled through count­less stages, with at least as many pos­si­ble out­comes — a quick, tidy pitcher’s duel, a bat­tle of bullpens, a con­test of at­tri­tion, a marathon of en­durance — be­came, at one of its sev­eral cli­maxes, a lit­eral com­edy of er­rors.

In the top of the 13th of a 1-1 game, a throw­ing er­ror on Dodgers left-han­der Scott Alexan­der al­lowed Brock Holt to scoot home with the Red Sox’s goa­head run — a mo­ment of cathar­sis that lasted un­til two outs in the bot­tom half of the in­ning.

One out from vic­tory, and with a run­ner on sec­ond, Red Sox sec­ond base­man Ian Kinsler stum­bled as he fielded Yasiel Puig’s weak grounder, and never quite caught his foot­ing as he threw to first. The throw was well wide of the bag and hit off the cam­era well.

Muncy, the run­ner on sec­ond, cruised home on the er­ror, and al­most im­me­di­ately a mil­lion mem­o­ries in New Eng­land dredged up the name of Bill Buck­ner.

“It’s tough to swal­low,” Kinsler told re­porters. “There’s noth­ing they can say in that room to make me feel bet­ter ... I had the fi­nal out in my glove.”

Two in­nings later, Muncy was a breath of wind away from end­ing it with a walk-off homer, but his tow­er­ing drive to right off Eo­valdi in the bot­tom of the 15th curled just foul of the pole.

He would get an­other chance three in­nings later. Left-cen­ter field, as it turned out, was more hos­pitable.

Twelve games, three post­sea­son se­ries and three and a half weeks of high-stakes baseball led the Red Sox, fi­nally, to a sta­dium they couldn’t con­quer, a start­ing pitcher they couldn’t wear down and a tight, late sit­u­a­tion they couldn’t turn to their ad­van­tage — and fi­nally, a deep and tire­less op­po­nent they couldn’t out­last. The loss Fri­day night punc­tured the Red Sox’s grow­ing air of in­vul­ner­a­bil­ity — but more im­por­tantly, it com­pro­mised their pitch­ing staff ahead of the next two games, Satur­day and Sun­day nights.

The Red Sox hadn’t lost a road game since Sept. 23, hadn’t lost any game any­where since the opener of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries two weeks ago and had ap­peared al­most uni­ver­sally su­pe­rior to the Dodgers in a pair of wins at Fen­way Park this week. Fri­day night’s marathon, as the teams cy­cled through nearly ev­ery avail­able body and still couldn’t pro­duce an out­come, may have proven defini­tively how equal th­ese teams re­ally are.

To win this one, the Dodgers had to sur­vive a de­flat­ing blown save in the eighth in­ning by closer Ken­ley Jansen, a tense matchup of bullpens that stretched deep into the night and one har­row­ing fly ball to cen­ter field in the top of the 10th that nearly pro­duced the go-ahead run for the Red Sox.

With run­ners on the cor­ners and one out in a 1-1 game, Nunez lifted a fly to medium-shal­low cen­ter, and Kinsler, in­serted as a pinch-run­ner, tagged from third. The throw from Dodgers cen­ter fielder Cody Bellinger was up the line, but catcher Austin Barnes hauled it in, braced him­self against Kinsler’s com­ing charge and held on for the out.

Seven in­nings of Walker Buehler’s su­per­sonic heater had left the Red Sox beg­ging for some­one, any­one else to face, which may ex­plain why the chunky, bouncy open­ing chords of “Cal­i­for­nia Love” boom­ing across Dodger Sta­dium at the start of the eighth in­ning was mu­sic to their ears.

There went the Dodgers’ flamethrow­ing rookie righthander. Here came Ken­ley Jansen, their closer, for a six-out save. And there, mo­ments later, went the Dodgers’ 1-0 lead.

Bradley, the Red Sox’s cen­ter fielder, tied it with a two-out homer in the eighth.

It wasn’t an elim­i­na­tion game for the Dodgers, but it was close. Only one team in post­sea­son his­tory has come back from a three-games-to-none deficit: the 2004 Red Sox, whose vet­eran pinch-run spe­cial­ist, Dave Roberts, now man­ages the Dodgers. He had no in­ter­est in try­ing to do it again.

For seven in­nings, or the ex­act length of time the pro­ceed­ings were graced by Buehler, the game ap­peared on its way to be­ing a quick, tidy, em­phatic win for the Dodgers, with lit­tle in the way of drama.

Seven times Fri­day night, Buehler strode to the mound at Dodger Sta­dium, picked the ball up off the dirt and com­menced putting the Red Sox’s hit­ters back in their place. Seven times, he de­scended that same mound — some­times with a fist pump, some­times with a howl, some­times with noth­ing but a cool, cocky strut — and strode back to the Dodgers’ dugout to rous­ing ap­plause at the end of an­other clean in­ning.

For seven in­nings, Joc Ped­er­son’s homer off Red Sox starter Rick Por­cello held up as the game’s only run. But as the crowd rose for the mid­dle of that sev­enth in­ning, who could have known that, a few hours later, they would be ris­ing again for the 14th-in­ning stretch — and that, even then, there would be four more in­nings be­fore, fi­nally, some­one fig­ured out a way to end it?

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