Muncy: Minor Leaguer to WS hero in 1 year

October 27th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- , a Minor Leaguer in April, has a new chapter to recite when he retells his incredible story of resurrection as a baseball player, having revived the Dodgers' season early Saturday as a World Series hero.

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Muncy's walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the 18th inning ended the longest game in World Series history, a 3-2 win over the Red Sox in a must-win Game 3 for the Dodgers, who were one out away in the 13th inning from sinking to an 0-3 deficit and almost certain elimination.

Muncy was on both ends of the scoring in that 13th inning. Playing first base in the top of the frame, he strayed too far off the bag on a dribbler back to the pitcher, leaving nobody to cover and resulting in a go-ahead run. In the bottom of the inning, he walked and scored with two outs on 's throwing error on a grounder up the middle.

"As far as the dugout went, there was no deflation, no [giving up], nothing at all," said Muncy, echoing the motto of a team resilient enough to erase a nine-game deficit and win its sixth consecutive National League West title, one determined enough to win Game 7 on the road in the NL Championship Series.

"They got that run, and we said, 'We've got to get another one.' There was no panic or anything, just, 'Let's just get to work.' That was pretty good to see from the guys."

Muncy nearly ended the game in the 15th inning, turning on a 3-2 offering from former Dodger for what came close to being a home run.

"I got it good off the bat, and I was kind of walking down the line," Muncy said. "I wasn't sure if it was going to be fair or foul. From where I was standing, when I saw it land in the seats, I saw how far back it was, which was only a couple of rows, and then I looked how far over it was, and I knew immediately there was no way it could have went behind the pole, just from where it landed. Doesn't mean I didn't get my hopes up when I'm looking in the dugout and they're checking the replay to see if they want to check it or not. From my vantage point, I was pretty positive it was foul right away."

Muncy then struck out, but even with Eovaldi cruising through six innings of scoreless relief, the Dodgers kept hacking. Three innings later, Muncy caught Eovaldi's 97th pitch, a 3-2 backdoor cutter, and turned it around for a towering opposite-field homer, his third of the postseason following a year in which he led Los Angeles in home runs, with 35.

"I got 3-0 and he was able to work back two strikes, full count," Muncy said. "The at-bat before, he had got me on a really good backdoor cutter. He had really good stuff all night long, and he wasn't missing a spot. Next at-bat, he tried to go backdoor cutter again, but he left this one a little over the plate, and thankfully for me he did that, because I was able to get my bat to it."

It was the first walk-off homer of Muncy's career, the fourth in Dodgers' World Series history and the first since Kirk Gibson's in 1988. It was the first walk-off homer in the World Series since teammate 's for the Cardinals in 2011.

"It happens in this dream right now, this exact one," said Muncy. "This whole year has been [such] a surreal experience that it's hard to put into words. But just getting a chance to play in the World Series has kind of capped it off. And then getting a chance to hit a walk-off home run, obviously there's not many words I can use to describe that. The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement. That's about all I can think of, because it's hard to describe how good a feeling it is."

Muncy was released by the A's at the end of Spring Training in 2017 and picked up by the Dodgers, and he spent the rest of the season at Triple-A. He went to Spring Training this year as a non-roster invitee, was impressive there when he wasn't nicked up, and opened the season at Triple-A until getting the callup when third baseman went down with a broken wrist.

Talk about making the most of an opportunity -- Muncy wound up the Dodgers' nominee for the Hank Aaron Award as the best offensive player on the team.

Muncy struggled through the NLCS, going 4-for-22 with 13 strikeouts, but now is etched into Dodgers World Series lore -- not to the level of Gibson, but if L.A. rallies to win this thing, it will be Muncy's homer that turned the series.

"This was a gut-wrenching game for both sides," he said. "This is one of those games that whoever came out on top is going to have a lot of momentum going into tomorrow."

With the win, the Dodgers became the first club in World Series history to win after trailing in the 11th inning or later. In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams winning Game 3 to trail 2-1 have gone on to take the series 12 of 42 times (29 percent). That includes nine of 33 times (27 percent) when the trailing club wins Game 3 at home, as Los Angeles did.