Sox inspired by Eovaldi's epic performance

Initially slated to start G4, righty tosses 6-plus innings of sparkling relief only to take tough-luck loss

October 26th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- For the Red Sox, the man who was supposed to be the Game 4 starter wound up being the Game 3 hero.

This, even though said hero, , served up a walk-off homer to to end a 3-2, 18-inning thriller that slimmed Boston's lead in the best-of-seven World Series against the Dodgers to 2-1.

It was so wild a night that the man who allowed the game-ending blast was the one who was drawing all the praise from his teammates and his manager.

, who actually started Game 3 if you can remember that long ago, shed prideful tears over the efforts of his teammate.

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"That was the most incredible pitching performance I've ever seen," Porcello said. "Actually after the game was over, I started crying because that was -- I mean, he's grinding. Every pitch. He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch, and it was special. It was a lot of fun to watch. That's the epitome of reaching down deep. I'm really proud of him."

It was the bottom of the 12th inning when Eovaldi came onto the scene. The thinking was that he could give manager Alex Cora an inning or two and someone would get a big hit, and the Red Sox would take a 3-0 lead in the World Series.

Eovaldi wound up going six innings (plus one batter in the 18th) and giving up three hits and one earned run while walking one and striking out five.

"Eovaldi was nasty, and we were just trying to wear him down," Dodgers outfielder said. "He was throwing 101, with a 95-mph cutter. ... Hopefully, he's done until Game 7 or something."

The flame-throwing righty threw 97 pitches -- 36 more than starter Porcello. This, on the heels of Eovaldi throwing a pair of shutdown eighth innings in the wins in Boston in Games 1 and 2.

For a man who has twice undergone Tommy John surgery, it was an impressive display.

"They were checking with me, asking me how I was feeling, and I told them I was good," said Eovaldi. "I told them I wanted this win, and I wanted to come out here and finish it and get ready for tomorrow. But, unfortunately, I wasn't able to come out on top."

In truth, Eovaldi should have come out on top. After the Red Sox took the lead on 's infield hit and error by Dodgers reliever in the top of the 13th, Eovaldi had his team one out from victory in the bottom of the frame.

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And it looked like he would get that out, when hit a grounder toward the middle that ranged over to field. But Kinsler then lost his footing and threw it away, as Muncy raced home to score the tying run. It was ruled a hit for Puig and an error by Kinsler to allow the run to score.

"He owned up to it," Eovaldi said of Kinsler. "He apologized to me, and I told him he had nothing to apologize for. We're a team: 'I know you got my back,' and I've got his and it's a team effort. It's not just one guy."

With the Red Sox out of position players, there was no need for Cora to pinch-hit for Eovaldi. So he kept pitching, inning after inning.

Against Muncy, Eovaldi showed his first sign of fatigue, falling behind the dangerous left-handed hitter, 3-0. And on a 3-2 pitch, Muncy got the barrel to a 90-mph cutter and set off delirium at Dodger Stadium.

"I was trying to do that backdoor cutter right there, and unfortunately I started the count 3-0, missing on some pitches," said Eovaldi. "The circumstances of the game, the emotions, the adrenaline, everything was kicking in there towards the end. To go that far, you want to come out on top. For us to come up short right there, it's frustrating to me."

Yet there wasn't anyone else who was frustrated with Eovaldi.

"Can't put it into words," said center fielder "Tremendous. Amazing. Spectacular. I want him on my side 10 out of 10 times. Nothing but love. That was pretty special, for him to be able to put 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."