In the 18th inning, seven hours and 20 minutes after it began, Max Muncy gave the Dodgers life with an opposite field walk-off solo home run. The longest game in World Series history no matter how you slice it, ends up a 3-2 win for Los Angeles.
Muncy’s heroic blast is the Dodgers’ third walk-off homer in franchise history, joining Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and Justin Turner in Game 2 of the 2017 NLCS.
“Just getting a chance to play in the World Series has kind of capped it off,” Muncy said of his incredible 2018. “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.”
It was the first walk-off homer in the World Series since Muncy’s teammate, David Freese, did so in 2011 while with the Cardinals.
“He’s got some big hits for us, manager Dave Roberts said of Muncy. “And to stay on the cutter was pretty special right there.”
The game had a little of everything. Nathan Eovaldi — once thought to be the Game 4 starter — made 97 pitches out of the Red Sox bullpen. Each team used 23 players on their rosters, a postseason record. It took 561 pitches from 18 pitchers to complete.
“Probably one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve ever been a part of,” manager Alex Cora said after his team lost. “The effort from both sides.”
The Dodgers looked like they were going to secure a 1-0 victory hours before it actually ended. Walker Buehler was fantastic, pumping fastball after fastball at the Red Sox for seven shutout innings.
Boston struggled to stay on Buehler’s plus fastball all night, managing only two hits and nothing after a Christian Vazquez single in the third inning off the right-hander. Buehler retired the final 14 hitters he faced, putting the exclamation point on his night by throwing a 98-mph fastball past J.D. Martinez for strike three.
The only run to that point came on a third inning long ball off the bat of Joc Pederson, launched into the Red Sox bullpen. The home run for Pederson was his fourth in six career World Series games.
With the lead heading into the eighth inning, manager Dave Roberts went to his closer Kenley Jansen to get the final six outs. The Red Sox had other plans as Jackie Bradley Jr. launched a game-tying solo shot to right field with two outs. Jansen would pitch a scoreless ninth and the game ultimately went to extra innings.
“I think we’ve got to go back and really appreciate Walker’s outing,” Roberts said. “He pitched his tail off. And put us in a chance to win that game. We felt that in a must-win game to go to Kenley for two innings, we liked that. That was the plan. It didn’t work out.”
“But, again, you look at what Walker did in allowing us to kind of be in a good spot, considering how many innings we played tonight for tomorrow with the pen. And that started with Walker.”
For such a long game, most of the action happened after the ninth inning had come to a close.
Boston put runners on first and third in the 10th against Pedro Baez, and it looked like they would take the lead when Eduardo Nunez hit a fly ball to center with only one out. Ian Kinsler tagged at third but would be doubled up at the plate on a laser throw from Cody Bellinger to end the threat.
The game once again leaned the Red Sox way in the top of the 13th inning, when they took their first lead.
Brock Holt walked to leadoff the inning, took second on a wild pitch and would come around to score on an error by the collective right side of the Dodger infield to put Boston over the top.
After walking Holt, reliever Scott Alexander bounced one to the plate that got away from Austin Barnes, sending Holt to second. On the next pitch, Eduardo Núñez bounced a slow roller to the first base side of the mound.
Alexander and Muncy both attempted to field the ball and nobody was at first. By the time Kike Hernandez got there, Alexander floated it over his head and down the first base line to allow Holt to score with the go-ahead run.
The Dodgers were not done.
A leadoff walk for Muncy turned into a runner in scoring position when Bellinger popped out to Núñez at third. Núñez landed in the crowd with the effort to get to the ball, allowing Muncy to tag and move to second.
A Yasiel Puig groundout three pitches later would’ve ended the game, except that Kinsler threw it away to bring Muncy home to tie the score again.
Eovaldi matched the number of arms coming out of the Dodger bullpen to take the game into the 18th. Muncy hit a 3-2 slider into the left field pavilion to send everyone home.
Buehler became only the third pitcher in World Series history to toss at least seven scoreless, allow two hits or less and not walk a batter. He joins Roger Clemens (Game 2, 2000) and Don Larsen, who tossed a perfect game against the Dodgers in Game 5 back in 1956.
Prior to Friday, Buehler’s career high was 105 pitches. After 26 in the first inning, it looked like the right-hander was not going to go deep into the game. But he earned his way through the seventh and struck out three of the last four batters he faced — the top four in Boston’s lineup.
The Dodgers announced after the game that the Game 4 starter was to be determined later Saturday. It was scheduled to be Rich Hill and they didn’t include any notes about the decision. So we wait.
Home Runs: Pederson (1), Bradley Jr. (1), Muncy (1)
WP: Alex Wood (1-0): 1 IP, 1 walk
LP: Nathan Eovaldi (0-1): 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts