When Kenley Jansen gave up Jackie Bradley Jr.’s dramatic tying homer in the eighth inning Friday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen apparently had failed at a crucial time in another World Series.
As it turned out, Game 3 wasn’t even half over.
LA’s up-and-down bullpen shook off the disappointment of Bradley’s quiet circling of the bases and provided several hours of redemption in an epic 18-inning affair.
The Dodgers’ eight relievers pitched 11 collective innings of five-hit ball in the longest World Series game ever, largely shutting down Boston’s powerhouse offense after rookie starter Walker Buehler dazzled the Red Sox with seven innings of two-hit excellence.
“The way that our guys, our pen, got the outs that they needed, they did a heck of a job,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So you look at tomorrow, after playing 7 hours and 20 minutes, our pen is in pretty good shape.”
Jansen still blew his attempt at a six-out save in his third major World Series failure of the past two years. Bradley’s homer set in motion the events that led this game all the way into Saturday.
But the Dodgers’ vaunted closer shook it off to pitch a perfect ninth.
His successors largely shut down Boston’s powerhouse offense, hanging in while the Dodgers’ bats went 10 innings between runs. After giving up one weird run in the 13th on Scott Alexander’s throwing error, Los Angeles’ relievers eventually yielded just one hit in the final five extra innings.
Los Angeles’ bullpen threw 170 pitches — a pittance compared to the Boston bullpen’s 222 pitches, and a possible advantage in Game 4. Most of LA’s bullpen can throw again on Saturday night, since none of the eight relievers threw more than two innings or Kenta Maeda’s 36 pitches.
“There’s some guys that we wanted to stay away from today, namely (Ryan) Madson, Julio (Urias),” Roberts said. “But for those guys to give us big outs and pick us up when we needed it, it’s kind of a signature of our ballclub. Had our backs against the wall many times, and for us to persevere, and it wasn’t how we scripted it, but it was a big win for us.”
Late in the season during which the “bullpen game” entered baseball’s lexicon and relievers became arguably more important than ever, Boston and Los Angeles set a new postseason record in Game 3 by using a combined 18 pitchers.
Both bullpens were outstanding, and both minimized the damage when both teams scored unusual runs in the bizarre 13th inning.
Maeda might have produced the biggest single inning from LA’s bullpen in the 15th after Eduardo Nunez singled and Bradley walked. Maeda fielded Christian Vazquez’s bunt and boldly spun and threw to third, forcing out Nunez by inches — and then Maeda struck out Sandy Leon and Mookie Betts to quell the threat.
Alex Wood, the starter coming out of the bullpen, got the win by pitching out of trouble in the 18th after Leon drew a leadoff walk.
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