LOS ANGELES -- They had just participated in a World Series Game 3 for the ages -- a seven-hour and 20-minute, 18-inning epic which ended in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.And, really, for the Red Sox, the one question that lingered was how
LOS ANGELES -- They had just participated in a World Series Game 3 for the ages -- a seven-hour and 20-minute, 18-inning epic which ended in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
And, really, for the Red Sox, the one question that lingered was how they will respond to a defeat in which they burned their Game 4 starter (Nathan Eovaldi) and went through their entire bullpen except for Thomas Pomeranz.
In other words, will the toll of Game 3 have an adverse impact on Saturday night's Game 4?
One out away from putting the Dodgers in a 3-0 stranglehold, the Red Sox instead cling to just a 2-1 lead now in the best-of-seven Series. And how they bounce back will define their season.
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Early indications were good, at least from an attitude standpoint. Shortly after Player Page for Max Muncy's walk-off home run to left-center off Eovaldi ended the madness, manager Alex Cora had a line of pitchers outside his office volunteering to start Game 4.
So who will it be when the teams get back on the field on Saturday?
"How do you spell that, TBA? TBA," said Cora.
A few minutes later, Cora got more specific.
"We'll sit down now and we'll go over it, and we'll decide," Cora said. "Somebody will start. Most likely a lefty."
The options range from logical (Eduardo Rodriguez) to highly intriguing (Chris Sale on three days' rest) to someone who would be utterly stunning (Pomeranz).
Rodriguez faced just one batter in Game 3 and probably could give Cora 12 outs or so. The lefty made 23 starts this season, but he has been used exclusively as a reliever since Sept. 24.
Sale experienced left shoulder inflammation in the second half of the regular season and a stomach illness in the American League Championship Series, and he hasn't looked himself in his last two starts, so it would be somewhat surprising if Cora went to him on short rest. But stranger things have happened. Sale threw 91 pitches in his Game 1 start and yet was lobbying for Game 4 even before Game 3 started.
The ultimate stunner would be Pomeranz, who didn't pitch well all season and wasn't on the roster for Boston's first two rounds of the postseason. Pomeranz last started on Aug. 7, and he hasn't pitched in any games since Sept. 30.
Pitching plans aside, there was so much to digest from Game 3, in which the Red Sox rallied back to tie on Jackie Bradley Jr.'s dramatic home run off Kenley Jansen in the eighth, and they were an out away from winning it in the 13th only to have Ian Kinsler throw the ball away.
"I just had the last out in my glove and couldn't get it over there. It was tough to swallow," said Kinsler.
But the veteran will try to get back up along with the rest of his teammates, because that's what championship teams do.
"We're all exhausted," Kinsler said. "We gave everything we had, like we do every game. It didn't go our way tonight, but there's another game tomorrow."
Kinsler said multiple times he felt responsible for the loss, but he wasn't alone. The top four spots in Boston's batting order went 0-for-28. That included an 0-for-7 by top AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate Mookie Betts and an 0-for-8 from Xander Bogaerts.
"It was just a bad night," said Cora. "We had some situations that we could have put them away, and then we didn't. And at the end, we paid the price."
And time will tell if Cora will pay the price for bringing Eovaldi in with the game still tied and ultimately losing the righty for at least Game 4, if not Game 5 also. The righty was splendid, allowing one earned run over six-plus innings while throwing 97 pitches.
But the manager -- who has made the "all-in" phrase the theme of this postseason for the Red Sox -- had no regrets about the decision.
"When he went up twice [to warm up], we were talking about it," said Cora. "We were like, 'Well, we've got David [Price].' We knew we were going to be OK with him. We had Craig [Kimbrel] pitch, obviously knowing that Nate was going to be available. And he got up a few times, and that's when I decided, 'Well, if he warmed up twice, we should just let him go, because he's not going to start tomorrow.' And we just kept going."
One thing Cora has going for him is that nobody in his bullpen, aside from Eovaldi, was asked to get more than four outs.
Cora pulled out every stop in an effort to win the game. He used 23 of the 25 players on his roster, with Pomeranz and Sale the only ones who didn't participate.
"It was a great baseball game," said Cora. "Seven hours, whatever it is. People back home were probably waking up to the end. But it's probably one of the best, if not the best, game I've ever been a part of."
The Red Sox, to a man, expressed a readiness and an eagerness to lace them up again for Game 4.
"Everybody in the clubhouse, they're ready to go," said Eovaldi. "I think we'll come out tomorrow and it will be a good game."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.