World Series -- Game Three
I wish I could say I watched the whole thing, but I doubt even the Count of Monte Christo had enough free time to watch that marathon in its entirety. I worked through the first 10 innings, watched innings 11-16 -- two hours of baseball -- and fell asleep two innings before it ended.
I felt like Muncy was going to take Eovaldi deep in the 15th, and he almost did. It's just an amazing thing that Eovaldi was still in the game for Muncy's next atbat, when you consider that the Red Sox starter, Rick Porcello, didn't get through the lineups twice.
There are always a lot of heroes in a game like this, and a lot of what-ifs. The main what-if is probably Kinsler's slip-and-throw, because the runner was on second base, not third. He could have just eaten the ball and kept Muncy on third, at least for one more batter.
Muncy again? Yes, Muncy. He was everywhere in extra innings, drawing a walk and taking second base on Nunez' third attempted trip to the disabled list -- his fall into the stands after catching a routine pop fly that wasn't because of the stupid shift -- before scoring on Kinsler's error.
And guess who gave up the base on balls? Yep. Eovaldi. Two iconic franchises full of future Hall of Famers faced off in an epic, record-setting 18-inning battle and the four principle characters, the lead actors in the drama, were three retreads and a 28-year-old rookie.
Eduardo Nunez was originally a Yankee, then bounced to the Twins and Giants before signing with Boston in 2017. Once the heir apparent to Derek Jeter, Nunez' career has been marked by flashes of brilliance and an endless string of injuries. Now 31 years old, Nunez made $4 million in 2018, less than most veteran relievers.
Nathan Eovaldi was originally a Dodger, something I didn't know until about 12 seconds ago. I thought he came up with the Marlins, but the Dodgers drafted him in 2008, in the 11th round. He came up in LA, moved to Miami and bounced to the Yankees (he went 14-3 in 2015) before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016.
He was always known for his fastball; I know he had the highest average velocity in at least one year, and I think he's done it more than once. Despite the heater, he's never been a strikeout pitcher. But 101, man ... if he can keep that up and learn how to throw even a mediocre changeup, he could be one of those guys who just keeps coming and coming, and suddenly he's 35 and a Hall of Fame candidate.
He ain't there yet, obviously. He's 28 years old, a year younger than Rick Porcello, and 91 wins behind the former Cy Young Award winner. (135-44). But I'd assess their Hall of Fame chances about the same right now.
That sounds more grandiose than it is; it just means Eovaldi's current arm wear, raw stuff and other attributes give him a non-zero chance to build a late-in-life case for greatness, maybe a 1 percent chance.
Porcello, despite his 135 wins and relative youth, is still a ways off the Hall of Fame path. His career era is barely league average and his Cy Young season was the only time he was anything but an innings eater. In his defense, his strikeouts have gone up since he moved to Boston, even in relation to the league's exploding rates. He'll have to get better, but his stuff is pretty good, too.
Ian Kinsler is a 4-time all-star and a fringe Hall of Fame candidate, so it's not fair to call him a retread. Like Nunez and Eovaldi, though, he's on his fourth team -- and the guy who scored 117 runs and won a gold glove in 2016 ain't coming down the tunnel anymore. Kinsler's ops+ was 112 in 2016, 92 in 2017, 87 in 2018. The 13-year veteran set career-lows and near-lows in virtually every offensive category in 2018. After spending his first decade in Texas he's starting to bounce around the league like a beach ball in a windstorm.
The night's hero, Muncy, can't even lay claim to retread status. After failing trials with Oakland in 2015 and 2016, he looked like another Quad-A corner slugger who didn't slug enough. Released by the A's at the end of spring training, he signed with the Dodgers and spent 2017 and the first couple of weeks of 2018 in Oklahoma City.
He'd added second base to his bag of defensive tricks, so when Logan Forsythe went on the DL, the Dodgers called Muncy up to add roster depth. He had a pinch-hit in his first atbat on April 17, and then he homered in his first start on April 18 before an 0-13 stretch threatened to send him back to Oklahoma.
After a .207 April with two home runs in 29 atbats, he heated up in May (5 homeruns, .261) and then cemented his position with a blistering June, when he hit .289 with ten home runs and 25 walks in 101 plate appearances.
His final total of 35 home runs looks sustainable when you look at him -- he's built like a 6-foot fire hydrant -- but he had never shown that sort of power in the minors; he hit 62 home runs in 568 career minor league games, 21 for Stockton in A ball. He hit 40 in 468 combined games in AA and AAA.
Can he keep it up? I suspect he can, actually. For some reason home run regression has flipped upside down the last couple of years. Until I know what's causing minor leaguers to spike their home run production upon entry in the major leagues, I have to assume it's real. But something strange is going on.
Eovaldi's marathon relief session may have saved the Sox manager Alex Cora from an embarrassing managerial gaffe. Had Eovaldi not finished the game, Cora would have been forced to use his last remaining pitcher, Drew Pomeranz.
Pomeranz, who was terrible in 2018 (2-6, 6.08 era in 74 innings), may not start game four anyway. Chris Sale or Edwardo Rodriguez could start; Sale started game one and struggled through 91 pitches in four innings. Rodriguez has pitched twice, including last night, but for a single batter each time.
Sale you know; Rodriguez finished the regular season 13-5 in 129 innings, 3.82 era and 146 strikeouts, but he missed August and started just twice in September, the last time on the 13th. He's been in the bullpen throughout the postseason, so he's not stretched out. Pomeranz hasn't gotten into a game since September, and he hasn't started a game since Aug. 11.
The Dodgers will start Rich Hill, or Dick Mountain as he was called in a postgame interview.
Last year, Roberts kept taking Hill out early, and it cost him at least one game and possibly the series. Will he give him some rope, considering how worn out the Dodger pen is? You'd like to think so, but managers have been overmanaging in the World Series forever.
To his credit, Roberts was the manager who did it right in game three, saving his bullpen by stretching his guys out while Cora went through his like a cocaine addict in an abandoned bakery.
Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.
This is going to be one of those "ESPN Instant Classics", just because it was a World Series game and it went EIGHTEEN FREAKIN' INNINGS. It had everything: great plays, bad plays, drama, great strategy, bad strategy, and a walk-off home run. You can't ask for much more than that from a game.
It's funny ... in a game with over 100 outs and over 30 baserunners, all of the scoring came on solo home runs except for the 13th inning, when each team scored a run when an infield out was misplayed and a runner scored from second base.
Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.
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