LOS ANGELES — It was 27 innings of madness stretched out over 27 hours at Dodger Stadium and it concluded with a sizable contingent of Red Sox fans hanging out behind the Boston dugout and chanting “Let’s go, Red Sox!” and “Beat L.A!” long after the game had finished.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from Games 3 and 4 of the World Series, however, it’s this: Don’t ever anticipate how things are going to end.
The momentum had shifted to the Los Angeles Dodgers after they won the longest game in World Series history on Max Muncy’s dramatic walk-off home run, and they appeared to have Game 4 wrapped up behind a brilliant effort from Rich Hill. He left in the top of the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead and the Dodgers eight outs from victory. They hadn’t blown a four-run lead all season — the only team in the majors not to do so.
Now they’ve blown one. Hill’s start and Yasiel Puig’s home run trot for the ages are now thrown into the trash bin of history as the Boston Red Sox improbably scored nine runs over the final three innings to win 9-6 and take a commanding lead in the World Series. With help from ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl, let’s recap the timeline of the past two nights.
Friday, Game 3
5:13 p.m. PT: Walker Buehler fires a first-pitch, first-strike fastball at 97 mph and Game 3 is under way. Would the rookie give L.A. a game to remember — and keep the Dodgers alive? Little did anyone know that it would take more than seven hours to get an answer.
6:08 p.m.: With two outs in the bottom of the third, Joc Pederson hammers a first-pitch changeup from Rick Porcello into the right-field stands to get the Dodgers on the scoreboard first.
7:10 p.m.: Manny Machado leans into his growing legend as a diamond heel just a little bit too much by hanging around home plate after crushing a pitch to left field. The ball bounces off the wall, but he’s still on first base: It took him 7.2 seconds to get there after his lingering admiration for his own handiwork. Cody Bellinger doesn’t get a shot at hitting with a runner in scoring position, but pops up the last out of the sixth to avoid the sense that Machado’s indifference cost the Dodgers a crucial second run.
“I looked up and at first I thought it wasn’t [gone],” Machado attempted to explain after the game. “I saw it take off up and then I kind of thought that it was going to go out. But that was very, very, very poor baserunning by me. I probably wasn’t going to be on second base, but very embarrassing.”
Others might have a different word for it.
7:21 p.m. PT: Buehler has done his part, throwing the last pitch of his scoreless seven-inning effort, giving up only two hits while striking out seven. He’s the first World Series starter since 1967 to pitch at least seven innings and allow two or fewer baserunners.
7:50 p.m.: Kenley Jansen comes in for the eighth inning for a six-out save — keep that in your back pocket — and gets two quick outs. But down 2-0 in the count to Jackie Bradley Jr., the Dodgers’ closer gets hit for big fly into the right field seats to tie the score.
8:47 p.m.: A few minutes after Bellinger is caught stealing after leaving first base too early on a 3-2 count, Brian Dozier pops up a 96 mph fastball from Craig Kimbrel with two on and two outs to send the game to extras and embark both ballclubs on a historic evening.
9:04 p.m.: With one out in the 10th, the Red Sox get runners at the corners, putting them 90 feet from taking a crippling 3-0 series lead. That brings up pinch hitter Eduardo Nunez, whose pinch-hit homer in Game 1 was the backbreaker in Boston’s initial win. Nunez lifts a fly ball to Bellinger in center field. He zips a perfect throw home to catcher Austin Barnes, who tags Ian Kinsler to complete the game-saving double play.
“I knew when he hit it, we probably have a chance with Belli out there, with his arm,” Barnes said. “Ball took us up the line a little bit, I kind of expected a bit of a collision. Belli made a hell of a play, really just kept us in the game.”
Boston’s win expectation before the play was 69 percent; this one play swings the odds 32 points to L.A.’s favor 63-37 … but it would be a while before they made good on that.
10:16 p.m.: Into a fifth hour of baseball and the score still tied 1-1, things are starting to get sloppy. After Dodgers reliever Scott Alexander gives up a leadoff walk in the 13th, Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt steals second on a bounced pitch that Barnes tries to collect while getting tangled up with the batter, Nunez. Nunez, who has been fighting knee and ankle injuries, is hurt on the play, but Boston is out of position players, so he stays in — and delivers the run with a dribbler up the first-base line that Alexander throws away to second baseman Enrique Hernandez covering first.
Boston’s up 2-1 on the scoreboard. Do the Dodgers have a comeback left in them?
10:43 p.m.: After drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 13th to get things started, Muncy tags up with one out and gets to second on a foul popup down the left-field line that Nunez catches as he tumbles into the stands after a long run because he began the play in a shift position at shortstop. If healthy, he’s probably able to stop himself before falling. With two outs, those 90 feet prove crucial, because …
10:46 p.m.: The Red Sox pitch to Puig with two outs and first base open and Puig grounds a hard-hit ball up the middle, right to second baseman Kinsler … who slips and throws the ball away toward first. Muncy has the time to scamper home and keep L.A. alive with the score 2-2.
“I had the final out in my glove,” a distraught Kinsler says. “It’s tough to swallow.” Red Sox fans immediately think of another error that lost them a World Series game in 1986. We won’t mention names.
11:34 p.m.: In the course of a grueling 10-pitch at-bat leading off against Nathan Eovaldi in the 15th, Muncy hits a ball out of the park … but it’s just barely foul. During the at-bat, he sees four four-seam fastballs, three curveballs, a splitter and two cutters, striking out on the last. But the score is still 2-2, and this is exactly the kind of game where Muncy will get a chance to avenge himself.
12:30 a.m.: After the two teams trade zeroes through the top of the 18th, Muncy steps in again against Eovaldi in the bottom of the inning. Initially slated to start Game 4, Eovaldi is instead now pitching into his seventh inning in relief. Leading off again, Muncy watches another four-seam fastball, another splitter, another cutter, all balls. Eovaldi goes back to the fastball, blazing a strike at 98 mph. But Muncy has seen it all and is finally ready to take the bat off the shoulder, fouling off a cutter, then another fastball. Eovaldi tries the cutter one last time, but that’s the pitch Muncy pounces on, ripping it 410 feet over the left-center fence for a walk-off home run and a season-saving win.
“For us to be able to get this, you got to feel like it gives us momentum going into tomorrow,” a jubilant Muncy says.
Game 4, Saturday
5:12 p.m.: After Buehler’s flamethrowing to start Game 3, the ageless Hill and his upper 80s fastball and big curveball take the mound. The veteran lefty with more reincarnations than Doctor Who is now asked to even up the series. He throws ball one to Mookie Betts to get things going.
7:09 p.m.: Hill and Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez duel through five scoreless innings — Hill didn’t give up a hit until the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth and runners on second and third and one out after a Justin Turner double and just one out, Alex Cora issues an intentional walk to Machado to load the bases. Bellinger chops a grounder to first baseman Steve Pearce for what looks like a 3-2-3 double play in the making. Catcher Christian Vazquez fields the ball cleanly at home for the second out of the inning but throws straight up the line at Bellinger, exactly where Pearce can’t make a play. The ball skips down the right-field line, sending Turner home to score the first run of the game. Instead of an inning-ending DP, it’s 1-0 Dodgers.
7:13 p.m.: Cora leaves Rodriguez out there, counting perhaps on Puig’s reverse platoon split to help make that risk seem manageable. Cora would later admit, “I pushed him too hard.” Every move Cora has made this postseason had seemed to work — this time it didn’t. Puig made the Red Sox pay; he takes four pitches to get a 3-1 count, then crushes a fat fastball for a three-run home run, 439 feet into the left-field bleachers.
The most memorable home run trot in World Series history this side of Kirk Gibson limping around the bases ensued. Puig immediately raised both hands in celebration; Rodriguez turned and spiked his glove into the dirt with the force of Mount Vesuvius. Puig blew a kiss as he rounded first base, and as he crossed third and headed home he raised both biceps in a muscle-man pose.
Kobe Bryant celebrates in the first row behind the plate. Everybody in L.A. is happy. The Dodgers are up 4-0.
7:43 p.m.: Hill has been removed from the game after a walk and a strikeout. Alexander walks Holt, Dave Roberts’ lefty-lefty matchup not producing an out. In comes Ryan Madson, the reliever who gave up big hits in the losses in Games 1 and 2. He gets Bradley on an infield pop-up, but then Mitch Moreland, pinch hitting for the pitcher’s spot, sits on a first-pitch changeup and crushes it 437 feet to right field. The Red Sox have two hits, but they’re down just one run at 4-3.
“We had two guys go up there and build an inning before me, and just we kept grinding and kept grinding, and finally gave ourselves an opportunity by putting some guys on base and able to capitalize and get a good pitch in and put a swing on it,” Moreland said.
Somewhere in the midst of that rally, Chris Sale was in the dugout yelling and screaming at his teammates. “I was down in the tunnel I heard someone yelling,” Holt said. “And Mookie came down, he was going down to watch some video. And I said, ‘Who’s yelling up there?’ He said, ‘Sale.’ Oh, my god, he was mad at us. I think that kind of lit a fire under everybody. We didn’t want to see him mad anymore. So we decided to start swinging the bats a little bit.”
8 p.m.: Jansen is on for another six-out save and after a groundout, he throws a first-pitch cutter to Pearce. It doesn’t cut enough. Pearce launches a towering fly ball to left center — a mere 100.3 mph and 388 feet. Just enough to clear the fence. Score tied 4-4. His home run trot, while less animated than Puig’s, scores high honors for the upraised arm as he rounds first base, followed by the extended finger point to the dugout. Good job, Steve. Silver medal.
8:18 p.m.: Joe Kelly strikes out Yasmani Grandal with runners on the corners and two outs and we go to the ninth still tied. Puig stands motionless at third base for 30 seconds, in apparent disgust or disbelief, before finally removing his batting gloves and helmet and taking a slow walk out to right field.
8:23 p.m.: Reliever Dylan Floro is in for L.A. Holt doubles over third base with one out and slides into second base, his helmet flying off, and leaps up and pumps his fist toward the Boston dugout. The intensity the past few innings has been ridiculously crazy, including competing “Let’s go, Red Sox!” and “Let’s go, Dodgers” chants in the stands as a fair number of Red Sox faithful have infiltrated Dodger Stadium.
8:27 p.m.: More Cora magic — Rafael Devers pinch hits for catcher Sandy Leon and his ground ball single up the middle scores Holt to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead.
8:42 p.m.: Roberts’ head is spinning with matchups. After an intentional walk to Betts, Alex Wood comes in to face Andrew Benintendi, who reaches on a dribbler down the third-base line to load the bases. It’s amazing how often soft contact produces something good. Kenta Maeda comes in to face Pearce and he drills on 0-1 fastball into right-center for a bases-clearing double. The Red Sox are so pumped up that Nunez punches Holt so hard in the chest it appears to actually hurt.
8:47 p.m.: After another intentional walk, to J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts caps a five-run inning with an RBI single.
9:09 p.m.: The Dodgers add a couple of runs on Hernandez’s two-run homer off Kimbrel, but the game finally ends when Bellinger flies out harmlessly to center field with a runner on. The Red Sox are one win away from the title.
Sometime after the final out, Cora added a twist to Game 5, announcing that David Price will start instead of Sale. He’ll be facing Clayton Kershaw. I have a feeling that matchup will set off the baseball gods. Something weird is going to happen Sunday.
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