Max Muncy delivered the walk-off blast for the Dodgers, but there was so much that happened before that could’ve sealed the game for the Red Sox.
Game 3 of the 2018 World Series will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the all-time October classics.
It will be remembered for a very long time, by generations of both Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox fans, and not just for the fact it was the longest game in World Series history — both in number of innings (18) and total time played (seven hours, 20 minutes). It was a classic game in a classic World Series matchup between two of baseball’s iconic franchises at the ever-historic Dodger Stadium.
And of course, the lasting image will be that of Max Muncy swinging for the fences in the bottom of the 18th inning, driving a full-count pitch from Nathan Eovaldi over the left field wall to give the Dodgers a 3-2 walk-off win and bring the series deficit to 2-1. The passionate Dodgers fans that remained until the end of Game 3 went home overjoyed, because their team was back in the World Series in a huge way.
But before Muncy even came to the plate in the 18th, there was so much that happened in this game even though very few runs were scored. By the time it was all said and done, hardly anybody even remembered that 24-year-old rookie Walker Buehler pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits with seven strikeouts. It looked like Buehler was going to be the story of the game. Little did anyone realize that by the time Buehler came out after seven innings, Game 3 was just getting started.
And still, at that point in the game, it was only 1-0 Los Angeles thanks to a solo homer by Joc Pederson off of Red Sox starter Rick Porcello a few innings earlier. Despite a dominant and outstanding effort by Buehler, Boston was still very much in the game. That became all too clear when, once again with two outs, ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. smashed an absolute bomb off of Kenley Jansen to straightaway right field. Just like that, with the game now tied 1-1, Buehler’s effort was erased and Game 3 was headed for history.
It quickly became a game that the Red Sox will forever regret letting get away because they had so many opportunities to take the lead, and they were getting absolute lights out pitching from their bullpen. No opportunity was bigger than in the 10th inning when Ian Kinsler came into the game to pinch run for J.D. Martinez at first base, then ended up at third base with one out.
Eduardo Nunez hit a fly ball to Cody Bellinger in center field, and as expected, Kinsler hustled with everything he had to the plate. Bellinger, who has a pretty solid arm, fired the ball to home and got it there in plenty of time. The interesting part, however, was that the throw was probably five or six feet off the plate. The lucky part for the Dodgers, and unlucky part for the Red Sox, was that the throw went directly into the third base path and thus made it pretty easy for catcher Austin Barnes to catch the ball and immediately tag Kinsler out.
It’s hard to be mad at Kinsler for trying to tag up and score the go-ahead run. Given how difficult runs had been to come by to that point, he had to take the opportunity that was sitting right in front of him. Bellinger’s throw just happened to land at the perfect spot and it didn’t work out.
It wasn’t until the 13th inning when a team finally broke through, and Brock Holt was only able to score the go-ahead run for the Red Sox after a poor throw to first base. But that was when, in the bottom of the inning, Kinsler made what has already gone down as the most infamous mistake of the game.
With two outs and Muncy on second base, Yasiel Puig hit a ball that nearly went up the middle. Kinsler was able to snag it, but he lost his footing while trying to make the throw to first base, and the throw went wide of the bag. Puig was safe at first and Muncy easily scored from second to knot the game up at 2-2, and as everyone knows, there wouldn’t be another run until the bottom of the 18th.
Poor Kinsler has been ridiculed mercilessly for that throwing error, and even said after the game that he feels terrible; feels like he let the team down. While it’s impossible to deny that Kinsler messed up, it’s unfair to blame the entire loss on him when the big bats in the Red Sox lineup — Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez, the first four hitters — went 0-for-23 in the game.
That’s where Red Sox fans should be placing their blame for this loss, even though it’s easier to just blame Kinsler because he’s the one that made the glaring mistake. Like it or not, mistakes happen, especially when players are running on fumes (like every player still playing in that game was). And if the Red Sox hitters could’ve scored more than two runs in 13 innings, Kinsler wouldn’t have even been in that situation to begin with.
Last but not least, there isn’t enough credit in the world that can be given to Nathan Eovaldi for the heroic effort he put forth in Game 3. He was scheduled to be the Game 4 starter, but instead, he entered Game 3 in the 12th inning and pitched six innings in relief. He threw over 100 pitches out of the bullpen, and minus the run scored on Kinsler’s throwing error, kept the Dodgers off the board until the 18th inning.
But it was inevitable that sooner or later, somebody was going to break through against Eovaldi, and that’s exactly what Muncy did in the bottom of the 18th. Eovaldi was battling with every ounce of breath in his body, to the point where he had Porcello in tears after the game, but he could only hold the Dodgers off for so long.
What the Red Sox asked Eovaldi to do was completely unfair, but it had to be done, and he couldn’t have possibly done a better job.
All in all, the game was there for the Red Sox to win. But they couldn’t deliver the big hits when it mattered. The Dodgers struggled to deliver a big hit for a long time, but Muncy was finally able to do just that — only seven hours and 20 minutes after first pitch — and that’s why we now have a series on our hands.
It’s hard to tell which team will be celebrating a championship when this World Series finally wraps up. But one thing is for sure: the Dodgers and Red Sox gave us an incredible, breathtaking baseball game in Game 3, and it was a game that will go down in history as one of the wildest, craziest, most bizarre classics in World Series history.
You can’t put a price on this stuff.