How did he have the strength?
After more than seven hours of baseball, Friday night become Saturday morning, desperation fighting exhaustion, the Dodgers’ Max Muncy drove a pitch over the left-field fence at Dodger Stadium, then powerfully threw up both of his giant arms.
How did any of them have the strength?
As Muncy rounded the bases and reached home plate, his teammates sprinted out of the dugout and were soon surrounding him in a giant, bouncing mosh pit of blue.
It was the 18th inning. It was 12:30 a.m. The Dodgers had awakened.
“Holy cow,’’ infielder David Freese said. “It was incredible.’’
Home is where their heart beat, loudly, powerfully, finally.
Home sweet Dodgers, and this World Series is a series again.
In the longest World Series game ever, the Dodgers returned home to their history, their hysteria, and a 3-2, 18-inning, Game 3 victory over the Boston Red Sox that changes everything.
The Dodgers began Friday night having left Boston with a two-games-to-none deficit and everyone talking sweep. By Saturday morning, exactly seven hours and 20 minutes after the first pitch, they trailed two games to one, and everyone was again believing in survival.
‘’If we don’t pull this out, we’re just playing for fun,’’ Freese said. “You don’t want to have a goose egg three games in. Two to one is a big difference.’’
It is a difference that could swing the series. The teams will play two more games at Dodger Stadium this weekend, with the Dodgers having better rested pitching and suddenly more offensive momentum. Plus, they have those Dodger Stadium fans, who were the real heroes Friday, with most of the sold-out crowd sticking around until the sweet end.
“We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves right now,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Considering where we’re at …I think there’s a little bit of momentum on our side.’’
That momentum was nearly crushed long before the end of the game, after the Dodgers and Walker Buehler had cruised to a 1-0 lead after seven innings on a Joc Pederson home run.
Enter Kenley Jansen. Exit baseball. Jansen allowed a game-tying homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth, and they were back on the brink, and that is where they stayed for what seemed like forever.
“It’s how we’ve been all year,’’ said Buehler, who allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. ‘’Everybody saying we have backs to the wall. We come here, we’ve done this before.”
Well, they haven’t done all of this before, especially when the game went late and got weird.
First, they survived a runners-at-the-corners rally in the 10th inning with one of the greatest throws in Dodgers history.
It came from Cody Bellinger, who one inning earlier was caught stealing in a base-running gaffe. His throw happened when the Red Sox seemed certain to score against Pedro Baez after J.D. Martinez walked, then, with pinch-runner Ian Kinsler flying, Brock Holt singled up the middle to put runners on first and third with one out.
Eduardo Nunez then hit a fly to medium center field. It was caught by Bellinger, who flung it home to Austin Barnes, who caught the ball up the line, on the fly, and tagged a stunned Kinsler across the Boston logo on his jersey to end the inning with a double play.
The stadium shook with the roar, Bellinger danced in from center with his left arm in the sky, his eyes wide with wonder.
“I was glad I had a chance to redeem myself,’’ Bellinger said. “I would not have been able to sleep.”
The Dodgers also survived a 13th-inning Red Sox run on a throwing error by pitcher Scott Alexander, countering with a run of their own in the bottom of the 13th on second baseman Kinsler’s throwing error.
With Muncy running from second and two out, Kinsler made a sliding stop of a Yasiel Puig grounder, and all he had to do was hold the ball and Muncy stays at third with Barnes coming to the plate. But Kinsler threw wildly to first, Muncy kept running, and the score was tied.
How crazy was that? The Dodgers are the first team in World Series history to win after trailing in the 11th inning or later.
“They got that run and we said, ‘We’ve got to get another one,’ ’’ Muncy said. “There was no panic or anything, just ‘Let’s get to work.’ ’’
From there, it was just a matter of surviving a game that was so long, Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi pitched six innings of three-hit ball … in relief.
The game was so long, the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts went hitless in seven at-bats while making seven outfield position changes
The game was so long, Bellinger had barely started his postgame interview when Pederson began screaming at him to get ready for Game 4.
“Belly, you’ve got to get in the cage; you’re out, you’re done!’’ Pederson shouted.
The game was so long, the Dodgers’ Brian Dozier desperately tried to add a spark by leaning over the dugout railing with a string containing Enrique Hernandez’s former good-luck charm. Yeah, bananas.
“You do whatever you can to try to get a rally going, you do whatever works — bananas,’’ Pederson said.
The game was so long, Times sportswriter Maria Torres literally aged a year, her birthday occurring in the top of the 17th inning.
Again, the question, how did the Dodgers have the strength?
“There’s so much on the line, you don’t really feel stuff like that,’’ Pederson said. “You find a way to make it work.’’
When asked if the length of this game was incredible, Pederson shrugged and said, “We want to win a championship; that would be pretty incredible.’’
Pederson may have started all the madness when, before the game, he changed his walkup music to, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!’’ by Justin Timberlake.
On the first pitch of Pederson’s second at-bat, he lined a hanging changeup into the right-field pavilion for a home run against Rick Porcello, and the song made sense.
“I got this feelin’ inside my bones, it goes electric wavy when I turn it on. All through my city, all through my home, we’re flyin’ up, no ceiling when we in our zone.”