World Series Game 3: Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers (October 26, 2018)

With a 2-0 lead in the World Series heading to Los Angeles, the Red Sox had a chance to take a real stranglehold on the series by winning one of the first two games on the road. They had Rick Porcello on the mound going against Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler and even though the young Dodger had pitched well in the NLCS, to me it seemed like a mismatch: the relentless Red Sox lineup against the inexperienced rookie. We had friends of ours and their kids over for dinner and then we settled onto the couch to watch the game. However, instead of the offensive onslaught I expected from the Red Sox, we ended up with a game-long pitcher's duel and an epic battle of attrition.

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Porcello looked much sharper in this game than he did in his previous start in the ALCS, but the one mistake he made was in the third inning when he hung a ball over the plate that Joc Pederson hit over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead. Buehler allowed two hits to the Sox, one of which was a single to Jackie Bradley that was erased when he was caught in a run down and tagged out. That hurt since Christian Vazquez followed it up by hitting a single of his own. After that, Buehler mowed down the Sox batters and it was surprising to me because he mainly threw fastballs in the zone. His pitches had good movement and he was throwing hard and the Sox usually feast on those pitches; for some reason, they were either swinging and missing (to the tune of seven strikeouts) or hitting the ball hard right at Dodger fielders. The game was tied in the eighth inning when Bradley crushed a ball to right field for yet another postseason home run. That sent the game to extra innings and the Red Sox had a golden opportunity in the tenth inning to take the lead started by JD Martinez' walk. Ian Kinsler came in to pinch run and was nearly picked off of first base. Brock Holt singled to center field and advanced Kinsler to third, although he slid over the base and barely made it back before the tag. Then, Eduardo Nunez lofted a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to score Kinsler. Cody Bellinger made a pretty bad throw home that was very high, but Kinsler didn't slide and stayed upright which allowed Austin Barnes to easily tag him out. It was an atrocious sequence on the bases for Kinsler and a real missed opportunity for the team to end the game. The game remained knotted at a run apiece until the thirteenth inning when Brock Holt led off with a walk. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Eduardro Nunez the hit a chopper to the mound that allowed Holt to reach third, but there was no one covering first and Scott Alexander threw the ball away allowing Brock to score the go-ahead run. It looked like they'd close it out in the bottom of the inning when Nathan Eovaldi got two outs. He walked Max Muncy on a blown check swing call that should have been strike three but got two outs including the second one on Nunez catching a foul ball and falling into the stands. That allowed Muncy to advance to second which was costly when Yasiel Puig hit a grounder up the middle fielded by Kinsler. For whatever reason, Kinsler rushed an off balance throw to first even though Puig was loafing it down the line. The ball sailed and allowed Muncy to score and tie the game. Had Kinsler just eaten that ball, the runners would have been on first and third for when the next batter, Austin Barnes, popped up to end the inning and the game. The game slogged along to the eighteenth inning and crossed 3:00am on the East Coast until Muncy hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to help the Dodgers escape with a 3-2 win. It was the longest game both in terms of time and innings in World Series history and my wife and I stayed up until the bitter end.

Boston Red Sox 2018 ALCS Champs

This was an incredibly frustrating loss for the Red Sox for a variety of reasons. Mookie Betts, JD, and Xander Bogaerts all combined to go 0-18 and as a team, Boston looked like they forgot how to hit fastballs. I thought Alex Cora pulled Porcello a bit too soon after he only went 4.2 innings. He'd only walked one while striking out five and only gave up one run (the Pederson homer) on three hits. I felt like Cora was a bit too quick with the hook there. Kinsler absolutely cost the team this game, first in the tenth inning with his horrendous baserunning (which they were able to overcome) and again in the thirteenth with his boneheaded fielding error. Had he held on to the ball, Muncy (who shouldn't have been on base anyway...more on that in a minute) would have stayed at third and the following batter (Barnes) would have popped up to end the game. Speaking of Muncy, the home plate umpiring was again atrocious. Home plate umpire Ted Barrett's strike zone kept getting wider and wider and wider as the game went on but he was maddeningly inconsistent. Just like what we saw in the first two games of this series, pitches in the exact same locations were being called balls sometimes and strikes others. There were some pitches over the middle of the plate that were called balls and others six inches too low or off the side that were called strikes. He was doing it to both teams and it made for an annoying night. Also, the umpires absolutely blew the call on Muncy's check swing in the thirteenth. The replay clearly showed the head of his bat went more than halfway, but I think they were fooled by the angle since his hands were so far out in front. That's not why the Sox lost the game, though; their sudden and baffling power outage and Kinsler's gaffe are the reasons why. The National League game is also annoying with the constant substitutions and pitching changes due to have to account for the gaping hole in each lineup (i.e. the pitchers hitting). Both teams had emptied the benches and bullpens by the twelfth or thirteenth inning and from there it was a battle of attrition. One guy who left it all out there was Nathan Eovaldi who pitched six incredible innings of relief and whose only blemish was the final homer to Muncy which, again, should never have even happened. You win some and you lose some and the Sox are still in great shape. It took a rookie pitching the game of his life, the entire Red Sox team forgetting how to hit fastballs, and a terrible fielding error for the Dodgers to win. We'll see how both teams come out for game four on Saturday night. Both squads will be exhausted and depleted and the Red Sox should be doubly angry for knowing they gave this game away. I know I am.