Los Angeles, California, USA : It took 18 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers to finally pull out a 3-2 victory early Saturday morning over the Boston Red Sox and avoid a 3-0 series deficit in the World Series.
The game lasted seven hours and 20 minutes, officially becoming the longest contest in MLB postseason history.
Max Muncy produced the fourth World Series walk-off homer in Dodgers history, pushing the ball just over the left center field wall off Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi. It was the Dodgers’ first walk-off win in the World Series since Kirk Gibson’s historic home run in 1988.
Leading off the 18th inning, Muncy had an early 3-0 count. Eovaldi, who threw 97 pitches in relief across six innings, battled back to a 3-2 count. On the seventh pitch in the at-bat, Muncy connected on the series-saving home run.
Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson opened the scoring with a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the third inning off Boston starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
Porcello threw 4 2/3 innings and only allowed three hits, with his lone earned run allowed being Pederson’s solo shot.
Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler dominated across seven innings, giving up only two hits and silencing the Red Sox’s bats throughout the night. He added seven strikeouts and didn’t surrender a walk.
Boston finally broke its offensive dry spell in the top of the eighth inning. Reliever Kenley Jansen replaced Buehler and gave up a solo homer to Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to tie the game at 1-1.
Later in the 13th inning, Brock Holt scored on a throwing error by Dodgers pitcher Scott Alexander to give the Red Sox a 2-1 advantage.
Needing one run to stay afloat, Muncy scored on a throwing error by second baseman Ian Kinsler to keep the Dodgers’ hopes alive and force a 14th inning.
Los Angeles Dodgers hitter Max Muncy hit a walk-off solo home run to lead off the eighteenth inning against the Boston Red Sox and hand the win to the Dodgers.
Muncy nearly won the game in the 15th, but his deep drive hooked just foul down the right-field line. He was the Dodgers’ home run leader this season, with 35, after spending all of last year in the minors and two uneventful seasons before that with the Oakland Athletics, who released him at the end of spring training in 2017.
Muncy changed his stance, developing a pronounced crouch, and despite never getting a promotion last year, he trusted that he could impress the Dodgers’ major league staff in his first spring training with them. He did, and when he got the call to the majors in mid-April, Muncy was ready.
“There was a lot of mechanical changes, and most importantly a lot of mental changes,” Muncy said. “And all that put together has led to this point right now.”
That point was home plate, after midnight, enveloped by teammates with renewed hope of winning the Dodgers’ first championship in 30 years.
Two division series games have lasted 18 innings, but no World Series game had gone beyond the 14th. This game stretched nearly an hour longer than any other in postseason history and — incredibly — consumed 15 more minutes than the entire 1939 World Series, a tidy Yankees sweep over Cincinnati that lasted just 7 hours 5 minutes.
“If we didn’t pull this out, we’d kind of just be playing for fun,” said the Dodgers’ David Freese, who hit the last game-ending World Series homer before Muncy, for St. Louis in 2011. “Down, 3-0, that’s pretty tough. I’m happy for these guys. We just fought and fought and fought.”
So did the Red Sox, especially Eovaldi, whose 97 pitches were the most on record by a reliever in World Series history. Eovaldi won two starts in the American League playoffs and had been scheduled to start Game 4. Now he has worked three World Series games in relief, and the Red Sox have not named a starter for Saturday.
“I told him how proud I was of him,” Manager Alex Cora said of Eovaldi. “The effort was amazing. It was a great baseball game. People back home are probably waking up to the end. But it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve ever been a part of.”
The game ended at 3:30 a.m. Saturday in Boston, and the fans in Los Angeles stood and roared when the stadium scoreboard showed midnight. The announced crowd of 53,114 fans had hardly seemed to dwindle by the time Muncy connected, and now they know the World Series will extend at least through Sunday.
By then, there is no telling how exhausted the pitchers will be. The teams set a record for combined pitchers used in a World Series game: 18, not counting the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who lined out as a pinch-hitter in the 17th inning, just to add to the zaniness of the night.
“Regular season, you probably expect a few of those,” said Kershaw, adding that the clubhouse chef had prepared peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches for the players as the hours dragged on. “You don’t expect a game like that to happen in the World Series. An incredible game, it really was.”
The series remains in Los Angeles on Saturday with the Red Sox still holding a 2-1 lead.