Buehler, Muncy, Lead Dodgers to an 18 Inning Victory
In late October, most people start carving pumpkins, however on October 26th, Dodgers starter Walker Buehler decided to carve the Boston Red Sox line up instead. In a 17 inning thriller that only featured a total of 5 runs scored, Buehler was the main story. The 24 year old rookie, who posted an 8-5 record this season with an impressive 2.62 ERA and a .961 WHIP, was looking to carry his previous success into a near-must-win game 3 for his Dodgers team.
Buehler started the first inning with back-to-back K's on Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, but despite shutting down the 3 batters he faced, it took him 26 pitches, making it look like it may be a short outing for the big righty.
The first 2.5 inning went by pretty quick, with both Buehler and Red Sox starter Rick Porcello shutting down any offense. However in the bottom half of the 3rd, Dodgers lead off hitter Joc Pederson turned on a first pitch meatball and hit a solo shot to right field. Dodgers strike first blood, 1-0.
Despite a high pitch count, this was the only serious hiccup Porcello had, as he went 4.2 innings recording 5 punch-outs and only allowing 3 hits and the 1 earned run.
Buehler continued to carve through the Red Sox lineup until Jackie Bradley Jr finally got on base with a single. However, before Buehler even threw the next pitch, Bradley Jr got greedy and took off for 2nd before Buehler started his motion, and was out by a mile at 2nd base. A costly mistake in a 1 run ball game.
Speaking of costly baserunning mistakes, the ever-hated Manny Machado hit a hard ball to left in the bottom of the 6th, that he thought was out of the ball park. He started his homerun trot, and was barely at 1st base by the time the ball hit the wall and was relayed into 2nd base. Even if was jogging, it would have been a stand up double with the injured JD Martinez chasing down the ball in left field. Their was a clear look of disgust on every face in the Dodgers dugout, rightfully so, as Machado's lack of effort turned a double into a single in a 1 run game. Nobody should really be surprised though, as during the NLCS Machado was quoted saying "hustle isn't really my cup of tea."
After taking Porcello out in the 5th, the Red Sox burnt tons of bullpen arms. Rolling out Eduardo Rodriguez for 1 batter, then Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes for 1 inning each.
Following the 7th, manager Dave Roberts took Walker Buehler out of the game after a valiant 107 pitch effort. Buehler went 7 scoreless posting 7 punch-outs and only allowing 2 base runners all night. In my eyes, this was by far the most dominant outing from a starting pitcher this postseason.
Roberts decided to bring out star closer Kenley Jansen for the 6 out save, despite the fact that Pedro Baez was warm in the pen and has had his way with the Red Sox batters in the past. Personally, Baez was the better option for the 8th, and bringing Jansen out for the 9th would have left some more gas in the tank for the rest of the series. In the top of the 8th, the Bo Sox finally got on the board, with JBJ taking Jansen deep for a solo shot, meaning it was a blown save for Jansen.
Nobody could accomplish anything offensively in the 9th, and we were headed to extras.
The story of the extra innings affair tonight was the shear number of pinch hitters and relievers used. Per Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports), by the time the game was over, 47 different players had been used; remarkable when you consider that only 18 start the game.
Craig Kimbrel and Heath Hembree were the first pitchers in extras for the Sox, both going a scoreless inning. On the other side, Baez, and Ryan Madson got the Dodgers through to the 13th with no damage.
In the 13th the Sox took the lead, as Eduardo Nunez grounded to the pitcher Scott Alexander, who threw the ball away and Brock Holt scored. Bottom half of the 13th though the Dodgers came back, as Yasiel Puig hit a grounder to Ian Kinsler at 2nd, and Max Muncy scored on the wild throw from Kinsler. 2-2 tie.
In the ensuing innings, the Dodgers rolled out Alexander, Floro, Maeda, Urias, and Alex Wood to shut down the Red Sox hitters, with only 1 run being charged to Alexander through these 6.2 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi, despite pitching in both games 1 and 2 already, was the last man out of the pen for Boston, and wound up going 6 innings. He gave up the run in the 13th, but was able to shut down LA until the 18th. Max Muncy came to the dish and hit a walk off homerun for the Dodgers to win it.
This was the longest playoff game in history, at 7 hours and 20 minutes. Nonetheless, the series is now 2-1 Boston, with game 4 going tonight out in Hollywood. Neither team's starter has been determined yet, as both teams used so many arms last night.
Nathan Eovaldi is a physical freak. Despite being charged with the loss, the fact that he was the potential starter for game 4 after throwing in both games 1 and 2, but decided that he was good to go for SIX INNINGS of relief in game 3 is truly impressive. 5 strikeouts, 3 hits against, and the ability to still throw 100mph in 6 innings is absurd, and there is no way Eovaldi should hang his head about the way this one ended. His teammates, notedly Porcello, were emotional over his gutsy performance, with Porcello saying it brought him to tears that they couldn't get the job done for Eovaldi.
One of Ferris Bueller's famous quotes is that life moves fast. It probably does for Walker Buehler too, as the rookie rose through the prospect ranks the last few years and has now through 7 scoreless innings in the World Series. Even more impressive, his velocity was still upwards of 100 mph all night. Timely strikeouts and a calm demeanor were key for Buehler, and if the Dodgers manage to find a way back into the series, he will be one of the reasons.
Manny Machado... great baseball player, horrible person. The worst. This has been said for years, with his on field antics such as dirty slides, throwing the bat at infielders, charging the mound, etc. However this may grind my gears the most. It's the World Series and you want to watch your ball hit the wall as you cockily walk to first base thinking it's a homerun. Get out of here. I'm glad he went 1-7 on the night. He's absurdly talented, but it's clear why a number of former teammates have not gotten along with him.
Alex Cora continues to impress as a first year manager. He knows that Martinez has an injured ankle, so between lefty and righty batters he switches his outfielders positions, putting Martinez off-field where he is most unlikely to get the ball. Creative, unconventional, and I love it.
I am not sure why Joc Pederson was hitting leadoff. He hit a homerun, sure, but the guy hits like .170 against lefties in his career, and went 1-7 with 3 K's because the Sox just bring in a lefty every time he up in the late innings.
Max Muncy continued to get the job done for the Dodgers, as he went 2-6 with 2 runs and 1 RBI, including the walk off homerun. With all the known star power on LA, he was a guy who came out of nowhere this year and has built off his 35 HR regular season, coming up clutch in the postseason.
Game 4 starters will be interesting to see, as Eovaldi was likely the guy, but now he certainly won't be. Price threw, Porcello threw etc. It could be Sale, but who knows how he is feeling or how long he could go. Pomeranz could as well, but he hasn't thrown in a while, and the Red Sox really don't want this series to get tied up because of poor matchups.