Game 3: A pitcher’s duel…
The Los Angeles Dodgers returned home to Los Angeles with a chance to reverse their fortune in the World Series. After dropping the first two games in Boston, Friday presented Los Angeles a chance to turn the series around in a crucial game.
Game 3 of the World Series proved to be historic. A pitcher’s duel throughout, Los Angeles held its one-run lead for much of the night. Then in the eighth inning, Kenley Jansen let it slip away.
An extra-inning affair, fans witnessed the longest postseason game by duration in MLB history. After each team scored a run on errors in the 13th inning, it finally came to a close in the 18th inning on a walk-off blast by Max Muncy.
Here are the winners and losers from Friday’s World Series battle in Los Angeles.
Winner: Walker Buehler
Under the brightest lights and on the biggest stage, Buehler proved himself in a must-win game for the Dodgers. The 24-year-old, who is already past his ‘planned’ innings limit from before the season, dazzled on Friday.
Buehler dominated Boston’s lineup across seven shutout innings with just two baserunners allowed and seven strikeouts. Even more importantly, he never allowed the Red Sox to seize on any momentum and kept them off the scoreboard right away, which had been a problem for Los Angeles in this series.
Loser: Mookie Betts
On a night where Boston couldn’t muster much at the plate, plenty of the blame must fall on the shoulders of its star leadoff hitter given the chances he had to change the outcome.
Betts had an opportunity to continue this team’s trend of getting ahead early and grabbing momentum. Instead, he flew out on the first pitch of his at-bat in the third inning and stranded a runner on second. Dejected steps back to the dugout became a theme as Betts finished 0-7 with three strikeouts on a night to forget for the likely A.L. MVP.
Winner: Joc Pederson
In a tight game where pitchers on both sides would rarely allow even a hint of life, Pederson’s blast in the third inning injected life into Dodger Stadium and allowed Buehler to take the mound with a lead.
Pederson has largely been an all-or-nothing player, and he came into Friday about as cold as possible at the plate. Fortunately, Los Angeles got his best in one magical swing and it injected life into the city and clubhouse.
Loser: Ian Kinsler
Boston took a calculated gamble by replacing J.D. Martinez with Kinsler in the 10th inning as a pinch runner. Kinsler nearly cost Boston twice on the base paths, but wouldn’t be so lucky the third time.
On a fly ball to Cody Bellinger, Kinsler was nailed on a great throw before he even got a foot in the batter’s box and an inning-ending double play. He made things even worse later in the game with a costly error that allowed Muncy to score the game-tying run. Simply a miserable performance by Kinsler in a short amount of time.
Winner: Jackie Bradley Jr.
There’s something about October that brings the magic out go Bradley Jr.’s bat. On a night when the Red Sox couldn’t find the big hit, he provided the big knock in the clutch once again.
Facing one of the best closers in baseball, Bradley Jr. worked the count in his favor then unloaded on a 2-0 pitch with a game-tying, solo blast in the eighth inning. It was his third heroic home run this October in a magical month from the forgotten outfielder.
Loser: Dave Roberts
In a game Los Angeles desperately needed, Roberts’ decision to bring Jansen out for a two-out save after a lengthy rest period backfired.
Los Angeles had Pedro Baez as an option out of the pen. Given he owns a 1.08 ERA this October, there’s no question he would be more than capable of protecting the lead. Instead, Roberts turned to Jansen and it led to a game-tying home run. It also led to a lengthy extra-inning battle that ate away at his bullpen.
Winner: Max Muncy
After the longest game in postseason history, the player who no one knew about at the start of the season came through with the biggest hit in the World Series so far.
Los Angeles needed to win Game 3 and Muncy came through in the 18th inning with a solo shot to win it. While Los Angeles still trails in the series, the moment could be what swings the entire script for this series.
Loser: Alex Cora
Cora and the Red Sox desperately wanted to keep Eovaldi out of this game. Unfortunately, a grueling battle into extra innings forced their hand. What could have been avoided is how long Eovaldi stayed in, and the negative impact of that decision could also extend far beyond this year.
Eovaldi has a long history of arm issues, including two Tommy John surgery and surgery to repair his flexor tendon. An impending free agent this offseason, there should be serious concern about Eovaldi’s long-term health after his workload in the World Series.