Max Muncy Walk-Off HR Powers Dodgers to Game 3 Marathon Win vs. Red Sox

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his thirteenth inning run against the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the board. 

After dropping the first two games of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park, the National League champions outlasted the Boston Red Sox for a 3-2 Game 3 win at Dodger Stadium on Friday night behind a walk-off solo home run from Max Muncy in the 18th inning of the longest game in MLB postseason history. 

The Red Sox briefly took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 13th inning when Brock Holt scored on an Eduardo Nunez infield single and a Scott Alexander error, but Yasiel Puig responded with an infield single (and Ian Kinsler had an error) that pushed Muncy across home to extend the marathon match: 

According to STATS LLC,  the seven-hour, 20-minute epic lasted longer than the entirety of the 1939 World Series between the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds. 

                                     

Jackie Bradley Jr. Justifies Benintendi Benching with 8th-Inning Heroics

The moment the Red Sox qualified for the World Series, armchair managers debated the merits of prospective lineup permutations that would allow the AL champs to thrive in a National League park. 

However, manager Alex Cora never hesitated. 

The Red Sox skipper ditched the possibility of moving Mookie Betts to second base and stuck with the lineup that gave him the most balance. The result: J.D. Martinez in left field, defensive ace Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, Betts in right and Andrew Benintendi pinned to the bench. 

"As far as matchups, for what we have information-wise, there's no big difference," Cora said prior to Game 3, per WEEI.com's John Tomase. "Maybe Beni has the edge. But Jackie's defense with J.D. in left field, it makes sense for us."

He wasn't kidding. 

While a case could have been made for Benintendi considering he entered the night hitting .283 through 11 postseason appearancesincluding a four-hit outing in Game 1Bradley offered the right blend of defensive assurance and clutch hitting. 

And when it came down to it, Bradley came up big—again—as he smashed a game-tying solo home run to right field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the top of the eighth inning: 

Thanks to that blast, Bradley now has 10 RBI with two outs this postseason. 

Bradley isn't as steady as Benintendi on "at-bat to at-bat" basis, to be sure. But at this point, he's earned the right to remain locked into the starting lineup as the Red Sox continue their championship push. 

              

Buehler Proves He's Dodgers' Ace of Future After Dominant Game 3

All season long, the Dodgers have been dogged by questions regarding Clayton Kershaw's future. 

The southpaw has the ability to opt out of the final two years and $65 million remaining on his contract in search of more long-term security this winter, and he has provided no indications as to whether he'll extend his stay in Southern California or pursue a potential megadeal on the open market. 

"I have not made a decision," Kershaw said prior to Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, per ESPN.com's Alden Gonzalez. "And to my understanding, you get 10 days after the World Series. So, should be a busy 10 days."

Of course, the Dodgers would welcome Kershaw back with open arms if he decides not to opt out. But whether or not he returns, L.A. will be in good hands. Specifically, Walker Buehler's. 

The rookie continued his rapid rise in Game 3 as he tossed seven shutout innings while allowing two hits and retiring the final 14 batters he faced. 

Those numbers were stellar to begin with, but considering they came against an offense that entered the night hitting .289 on the road in the postseason, they're downright spectacular. 

Plus, Buehler has the kind of arm the Dodgers can pin their hopes on. 

The 24-year-old touched 98 mph on the radar gun when he crossed the 100-pitch threshold, and the gas allowed him to make a statement against American League RBI king J.D. Martinez in the bottom of the seventh inning: 

Kerhsaw will undoubtedly still occupy the No. 1 role in the event he's back in Dodger blue, but Buehler is the kind of ascendant ace who can confidently slide in as his successor when the time comes. 

                     

Game 3 Marathon Will Test Each Team's Pitching Plans for Rest of Series

It's time for Cora and Dave Roberts to get creative. 

Both managers emptied their bullpens out of necessity Friday night, and those decisions figure to have major ramifications moving forward. 

For the Red Sox, their Game 4 plan has been scrapped entirely. 

Eight Boston pitchers hit the hill in Game 3 after Rick Porcello exited after 4.2 innings, including David Price (0.2 IP), Eduardo Rodriguez (0.1 IP) and presumptive Game 4 starter Nathan Eovaldi (6 IP). 

As a result, Cora has been left with a thinned-out group of arms that could force him to embrace a full-scale bullpen game Saturday. 

Now, Rodriguez could always be an option since he only faced one batter. But if he's not, Drew Pomeranz—who was added to the postseason roster Tuesday in place of Brandon Workman—will be in the mix to start the biggest game of Boston's season. 

With a potential Game 5 clash against Kershaw looming, that's the last thing the Red Sox need.

The Dodgers aren't in as big of a bind. 

Game 4 starter Rich Hill didn't take the mound Friday, and he could provide Roberts' side with a major edge if he can stitch together a solid outing that eases the burden on L.A.'s relief corps. 

However, any sort of early slip-up could spell doom for the Dodgers considering they cycled through nine pitchers and asked closer Kenley Jansen to throw 32 pitches across two innings. 

At this rate, expect chaos. 

                    

What's Next? 

Game 4 gets underway from Dodger Stadium on Saturday at 8:09 p.m. ET. 

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