Game 3 a long, frustrating affair for Red Sox

LOS ANGELES – As we head to Game 5 of the World Series tonight at Dodger Stadium one can only wonder if we would have had a game tonight at all and plans for the parade were being carried out. Friday night’s result guaranteed a longer series than some expected. The drama-filled contest that seemed like it was not going to end was an all-timer. The 3-2 Dodger win was an epic “one for the ages” game that rarely comes around, and the likes of, perhaps will not be seen again.

After seven hours and twenty minutes of grueling, wheel-turning, grind it out baseball through a World Series record 18 innings, the Red Sox had to look in the mirror and figure out what just happened. To observe Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts go a combined 0-15 and the top four spots in the batting order that included Hank Aaron award winner, J.D. Martinez, go 0-28 was hard to fathom and a big reason the Sox came up a run short in the end.

The Red Sox were one out away from a Game 3 victory in the bottom of the 13th inning and a commanding three games to none lead. Unlock the broom closet.

Then, wait, oh oh….

Beleaguered Red Sox second baseman, Ian Kinsler had the ball in his glove with a backhand play, slipped, rushed and made the off-balance throw to first that Boston Baseball fans will have a hard time flushing from their memories. Dodger right fielder Yasiel Puig, who wasn’t running particularly hard to first, ended up safe while the man who would win it five innings later as the first walk-off hero for Los Angeles since the improbable Kirk Gibson shot off of Dennis Eckersley in 1988, Max Muncy would score on the error tying the game. Again.

“I had the last out in my glove and I couldn’t get it over there. It’s tough to swallow”, said Kinsler after the game that ended at 3:30 a.m. ET, just before some New Englanders had to wake up to milk the cows on Saturday morning.

Kinsler’s error should not overshadow the incredibly gutsy job on the mound by right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in one of the most amazing relief appearances in World Series history. He threw 97 pitches over six stellar innings of relief, striking out five and deserved a much better fate than being tagged with the loss. Eovaldi is a free agent after this series ends and certainly grabbed the attention of a number of other teams who will be prepared to open up their wallets and throw money at him this winter.

Incredible Stat

How times in baseball have changed. According to STATS, Inc, Friday’s Game 3 took longer than an entire previous World Series. Incredible to think about. In 1939 the New York Yankees swept the Cincinnati Reds to win the fall classic. When you add up the time it took for the Yankees to broom the Reds…7:05 to complete FOUR World Series games. Game 3 took a total of 7:20!

The Red Sox record for longest World Series game, prior to last night, was the last time the Red Sox and Dodgers played for the title. It was 1916 when the Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins. Game 2 was played at Braves Field on Commonwealth Avenue and not Fenway Park due to the larger fan capacity. Boston’s Babe Ruth pitched all 14 innings and got the win in a game that took only 2:32 to play in front of 41,373 Royal Rooters. The Sox would win the series four games to one.

Red (Sox) Rover

In baseball, the term “Rover” usually refers to a “roving” coach that travels around to all of the minor league affiliates and works with specific position groups. This postseason, the Red Sox have given the term a new meaning, which appears to be a very smart move when managing the playoff roster. During the American League rules portion of this World Series, the Sox were able to have a very balanced bench with five players available. Usually, during the regular season, it is not uncommon to see four and sometimes even three bench players available as teams use more bullpen arms than ever before. In the National League, you need more bench players due to the large number of pinch hitters that are used for pitchers as the games get deeper.

With five bench players, the Red Sox only have eleven regular relief pitchers. The Dodgers went with twelve relievers and four bench guys. The move by the Red Sox to use right handed starters, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello to come out of the bullpen and pitch the eighth innings (and sometimes more) when the team has a lead is brilliant. The “Rover” as manager, Alex Cora is calling the position, gives them the twelfth pitcher they need while keeping a flexible bench. During the games here in Los Angeles, they play by National league rules and the Red Sox actually have a six-man bench which they needed every bit of on Friday night.

Game 5 of the World Series from Dodger Stadium is tonight with the first pitch expected at 8:15 p.m. ET. The sun will still be up out here on the west coast when the game begins but what the question is how bright will it be shining on the Red Sox when this game concludes.

Nashua native and resident Tim Neverett is in his third season as Red Sox Radio Play-By-Play Announcer for the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network throughout New England. Tim can be found on Twitter @timneverett.