In the time it took to complete Game 3 of the World Series, you could have watched a cable broadcast of Braveheart, commercials and all, two times — plus an old episode of The West Wing for good measure. Last night’s — well, this morning’s — Game 3 lasted seven hours and 20 minutes and was the longest World Series game, postseason game, and interleague game ever played.
It featured 118 at-bats, 45 players, 34 strikeouts, 18 different pitchers, 18 innings, seven pinch hitters (including Clayton Kershaw in the 17th inning), and something like 400 different baseballs used. But in the end it was a solo shot to left-center from Max Muncy in the bottom of the 18th inning that gave the Dodgers the walk-off, 3-2 win, breathing new life into this series and leaving roughly 20 million Americans very, very sleepy this morning.
World Series Game 4: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Time: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8:09 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: TBA vs. TBA
Three Things to Watch
1. Who is going to start?
Neither manager has committed to a Game 4 starter as of yet — which doesn’t make writing this game preview any easier — thank you Alex Cora and Dave Roberts. It was assumed that Rich Hill would start for the Dodgers, and that still makes the most sense, because using Clayton Kershaw on short rest after a rough outing in his last start doesn’t seem ideal.
Hill has only made two starts this postseason, his last appearance coming in relief during Game 6 of the NLCS. Hill was really good enough to win both of his postseason starts, combing for 9.1 innings pitched, three earned runs and nine strikeouts. But, his eight walks are worrisome, especially if he can’t find the zone against a patient Red Sox lineup.
Nathan Eovaldi was likely going to be the Game 4 starter for the Red Sox, instead he pitched six brilliant innings in relief this morning, but eventually gave up the game-winning (or losing, I guess) home run to Max Muncy.
Cora has three options. First, start Chris Sale on short rest, almost after a less-than-stellar last outing. Not ideal. Second, start lefty Drew Pomeranz, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30, and never in the postseason. Also not ideal. The third and final option is to throw lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez pitched in both Games 1 and 3, but has only faced two batters and has not started this postseason or at all since Sept. 20. Again, not ideal.
2. Red Sox' exhausted pitching
The plan to start Eovaldi as the Game 4 starter tonight got tossed somewhere around midnight Central Standard Time. Instead, with the rest of his bullpen exhausted, Cora gave Eovaldi the reigns in the 12th inning of Game 3 to take over for the duration. It might as well have been a start for Eovaldi as the big right-hander threw 97 pitches in six innings of relief.
Muncy’s walk-off will be the moment we remember forever, but Eovaldi’s performance was nothing short of baseball heroism, allowing just one earned run on three hits and five strikeouts after pitching in the first two games of the series. Not bad for a guy who has been traded three times, released once, undergone two separate Tommy John surgeries, and an unrelated elbow operation.
Cora used nine different pitchers in Game 3 in what has been a hodgepodge of a bullpen for the entirety of the postseason. Three pitchers were starters, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eovaldi, five other relievers threw at least one inning each. The only Red Sox pitchers that didn’t take the mound in Game 3 were Sale and Pomeranz.
3. Manny Machado
Every good story needs a villain and Machado is the closest thing we have to a Snidely Whiplash in this series.
(Author’s note: as a coping mechanism I started watching Dudley Do-Right videos on YouTube around 2:21a.m. CST.)
Throughout the years, Machado has been a thorn in the Red Sox side, hitting more home runs at Fenway Park than any other stadium not located in Baltimore, to a hard slide that hobbled Boston favorite Dustin Pedroia last season. The latter incident resulted in a barrage of chin music from Red Sox pitchers and profanity-laced postgame interviews from Machado. Baseball bravado run amok, really.
All of that happened in Machado’s days as a Baltimore Oriole before being traded to the Dodgers in July as a replacement for the injured Corey Seager. While no bad blood has spilled over from Machado’s days in the AL East, he was accused by the Boston coaching staff of tipping pitches to fellow Dodgers hitters in Game 2 while he was on second base. Much ado about nothing, really.
But it was Machado’s lack of hustle out of the batter’s box in Game 3 when he roped a scorching line drive off the left field wall that drew the ire of so many. It was crushed, and off the bat it looked like a no-doubt home run.
Machado thought it was gone. The entirety of Dodger Stadium thought it was gone. Rick Porcello thought it was gone. I thought it was gone. It wasn’t.
Of course Machado slowly walked down the first base line after he made contact, admiring his work, thinking he got enough of the Porcello pitch. J.D. Martinez played the carom perfectly off the wall and fired a strike from left field, keeping Machado to a loud, ultimately harmless single. I contest that Machado hit the ball so hard that only about a handful of MLB players could have turned that hit into a double, but the aesthetics of him waltzing down to first is what was seared into the baseball’s collective outrage.
Antics and lack of hustle aside, the Dodgers need Machado to be the big bat he was for them in the second half of the regular season. So far this series he is hitting only .214 with no extra-base hits in 15 plate appearances, including a 1-for-7 seven performance in Game 3.
It's hard to say what to expect in tonight’s game. I mean, we just watched an entire workday’s worth of a baseball game until 3:30 East Coast time in which Mary Hart would have been the MVP for her constant impersonations of Craig Kimbrel — if not for Max Muncy. Both teams are facing less than ideal situations with their bullpens being exhausted. So tonight will likely come down to whose starter can go the longest and give the weary relievers a break.
Prediction: Dodgers 5, Red Sox 4
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.