When your scheduled starting pitcher for Game 4 of the World Series ends up being the losing pitcher in Game 3 the night before — or in this case, the morning of — what do you do for a starting pitcher in Game 4?
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had an answer after his team lost 3-2 in 18 innings to the Dodgers:
“How do you spell that, TBA?” Cora asked the assembled media. “TBA.”
As much as the baseball world was buzzing over Max Muncy’s solo homer that ended the longest World Series game in history — 7 hours, 20 minutes — there was (almost) equal buzz about Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who was still throwing high-90s heat in his seventh inning of relief. His 97th pitch, which Muncy deposited into the left-field stands to give the Dodgers’ their first win of the Series, won’t tarnish Eovaldi’s effort — or his growing legend.
“After the game was over I started crying,” Red Sox starter Rick Porcello said. “He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch.”
Porcello, the Game 3 starter, actually pitched fewer innings than Eovaldi. Porcello pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run. He struck out five and threw 63 pitches. Eovaldi came on in the 11th and had allowed only an unearned run in six innings before Muncy’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the 18th. Eovaldi gave up three hits and also struck out five.
“I felt good the whole time. I told AC, ‘I’m good. I want to stay in,’” Eovaldi said from the field after the game.
“To go that far you want to come out on top. For us to come up short right there it’s frustrating to me.” Eovaldi said, per the Boston Herald.
His effort is now etched in World Series lore — even as the losing pitching.
“Can’t put it into words,” teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “Tremendous. Amazing. Spectacular. I want him on my side 10 out of 10 times. Nothing but love. Nothing but love. That was pretty special, for him to be able to up zero after zero after zero on the board. He wasn’t even scheduled to pitch. But we had that all-hands-on-deck mentality, and unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Check out Nathan Eovaldi’s teammates there to pick him up as he leaves the field after giving up the walkoff. pic.twitter.com/kkzz7QJxyG
“What Nate did tonight, that was amazing.That was amazing,” Cora said. “We kept talking to him, ‘I’m good. I’m good. I’m good.’
“I told him how proud I was of him. The effort was amazing. It was a great baseball game. Seven hours, whatever it is. … It’s probably one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve ever been a part of. The effort from both sides.”
If Eovaldi had made it through the 18th, his pitch count would have exceeded 100. What would Cora have done then?
“That was the last inning right there,” Cora said. “When he came in [after the 17th inning], I asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ He’s like, ‘Let me finish it.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I don’t know if I told him, ‘You’ve got one more.’
“Drew [Pomeranz] was up already. Actually, Drew was going to hit at the top of the next inning, whatever it was. So his stuff was still good. The last out [in the 17th], [Justin] Turner, that was good. And then Muncy put a good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark.”
What Nathan Eovaldi did for the @RedSox was priceless and showed a lot of guts and heart. This outing definitely guarantees that everybody will be looking at him.
So what about the Red Sox’s Game 4 starter?
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“We’ll map it out tomorrow,” Cora said, not realizing tomorrow, even in Los Angeles, had already arrived. “There are a few guys that are lining up in my office to start the game tomorrow. We’ll decide what we’ll do and we’ll be fine.”
Game 4 is scheduled to begin at 8:09 p.m. ET Saturday … or in less than 18 hours from the finish of Game 3.
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