Max Muncy
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Max Muncy belts a walk-off home run to lead Dodgers to victory in World Series Game 3

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The Dodgers staved off a World Series sweep as they collected their first win on Friday, a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox that was part pitching duel and part extra-inning marathon. Down 2-0 in the series standings, they trotted out rookie right-hander Walker Buehler, whose seven scoreless innings laid the foundation for a triumphant comeback at Dodger Stadium. It was Max Muncy‘s walk-off home run, however, that sealed the deal, as the clubs battled over 18 innings in the longest World Series game to date.

Buehler was flawless from the get-go. The Red Sox worked him for 26 pitches in the first inning, fouling off a total 11 balls as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts struck out in back-to-back at-bats and Mitch Moreland grabbed onto a 100.1-MPH fastball for an inning-ending fly out to Yasiel Puig in right field. The 24-year-old was matched at nearly every turn by Boston righty Rick Porcello, however, who set down two scoreless frames to start the game before he was eventually foiled by Joc Pederson‘s 380-foot solo shot in the third. By the time he made his exit in the fifth, the Dodgers had collected just three hits, a run, and a walk off the right-hander, and appeared wholly reliant on Buehler to preserve their narrow lead.

Buehler continued to battle inning after inning. Any thought of a perfect game was broken in the third when Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Christian Vasquez led off the inning with a pair of base hits, but they were the last baserunners Buehler would see all evening. From the fourth through the seventh, he dealt nothing but outs, and speared the heart of the strike zone with a 98.2-MPH heater to catch J.D. Martinez swinging for the Red Sox’ seventh strikeout of the night. Per MLB Stat of the Day, he’s the youngest Dodgers pitcher to go seven scoreless in a World Series game since 23-year-old Johnny Podres blanked the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 Fall Classic.

The Dodgers weren’t catching any breaks from Boston’s bullpen, either. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez struck out Pederson to end the fifth, while right-handers Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes each logged a scoreless frame to keep the Red Sox within one run of tying the game. In the sixth, it almost looked like the Dodgers were verging on another run when Manny Machado struck a long line drive out to left field. Convinced it had left the park, Machado watched as it ricocheted off the wall and into Martinez’s glove. He eventually left the batter’s box for first base, where he proved unable to convert the hit into a run scored by alternative methods, too, as Cody Bellinger popped out to second for an inning-ending out in the next at-bat.

The Red Sox’ moment finally arrived in the bottom of the eighth. Down by one run, with two outs and Kenley Jansen on the cusp of another scoreless inning, Bradley Jr. lifted a 2-0 pitch out to right field to tie the game, 1-1. He’s one of just two players to collect 10+ RBI with two outs in a single postseason, joining Yogi Berra and his 10-RBI performance during the Yankees’ 1956 playoff run (h/t The Athletic’s Jayson Stark).

Jansen didn’t make the same mistake in the ninth, though, and David Price and Craig Kimbrel combined for another scoreless frame to send the game to extras. In the 10th, with Pedro Baez in for Jansen, J.D. Martinez drew a walk and was swiftly replaced by pinch-runner Ian Kinsler, who narrowly avoided a pick-off at first base, managed to skirt Justin Turner‘s tag at third, then was nailed at the plate by a spot-on throw from Bellinger to preserve the tie.

After another handful of up-and-down innings and some weird baseball (including catcher Christian Vazquez‘s first-ever appearance at first base and, later, Clayton Kershaw as a rarely-seen pinch-hitter), the Red Sox spotted their next opportunity to gain an advantage. Brock Holt worked a leadoff walk in the 13th, then advanced to second base when Los Angeles catcher Austin Barnes knocked Eduardo Nuñez down at the plate while chasing after a pitch. Nuñez was eventually able to stand and return to finish the at-bat, then chopped the ball back toward the mound. An errant throw by lefty Scott Alexander gave Holt just enough time to scoot around the bases and plate the go-ahead run — the first lead the Red Sox had held all night.

That wasn’t quite enough to put away the Dodgers. In the bottom of the inning, Nuñez tumbled into the stands while trying to glove a foul pop-up and inadvertently allowed Muncy to reach second base. With two outs in the 13th, Puig smoked a single up the middle that was tossed wide of first base and into the camera well while Muncy scored from second to tie up the game yet again. Despite some hemming and hawing from the Red Sox, who challenged the call on the grounds that the ball was out of play, the initial ruling was upheld and the game went to the 14th.

Clocking in at seven hours, 20 minutes, the longest time ever recorded for any postseason contest, Game 3 crowned its eventual champion in the 18th. As Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi entered his seventh inning of the night, Muncy stepped up to the plate and worked a full count on six pitches, then skied a 90.1-MPH cutter out to the center field bleachers to knock in the walk-off run. Not only was it Muncy’s first World Series home run, but it marked the first walk-off homer the World Series had seen in seven years, too.

Game 4 is set for Saturday night at 8:09 PM EDT. Southpaw Rich Hill is slated to take the mound as the Dodgers look to even the score, 2-2, while the Red Sox will attempt to move within one win of another championship title. A starter has yet to be confirmed for Boston in light of the six innings (and 97 pitches) tossed by presumed starter Nathan Eovaldi on Friday night. The Red Sox still lead the series, 2-1.

Nationals GM Rizzo won’t reveal length of Martinez’s new contract

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WASHINGTON — Dave Martinez spoke Saturday about managing the Washington Nationals for “many, many years” and over the “long term” and “quite some time,” thanks to his contract extension.

Sharing a table to a socially distanced degree with his manager on a video conference call to announce the new deal – each member of the duo sporting a 2019 World Series ring on his right hand – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo referred to the agreement’s “multiyear” nature, but repeatedly refused to reveal anything more specific in response to reporters’ questions.

“We don’t talk about terms as far as years, length and salaries and that type of thing. We’re comfortable with what we have and the consistency that we’re going to have down the road,” said Rizzo, who recently agreed to a three-year extension of his own. “That’s all we want to say about terms, because it’s private information and we don’t want you guys to know about it.”

When Martinez initially was hired by Rizzo in October 2017 – his first managing job at any level – the Nationals’ news release at the time announced that he was given a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year.

That 2021 option had not yet been picked up.

“The partnership that Davey and I have together, our communication styles are very similar. Our aspirations are similar, and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar. I think it’s a good match,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t have hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse. I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times.”

The Nationals entered Saturday – Martinez’s 56th birthday – with a 23-34 record and in last place in the NL East, which Rizzo called “a disappointing season.” The team’s title defense was slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg threw just five innings because of a nerve issue in his pitching hand and players such as Starlin Castro, Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Adam Eaton and Carter Kieboom finished the year on the IL.

“This year, for me, we didn’t get it done. We had a lot of bumps in the road this year. But I really, fully believe, we’ve got the core guys here that we need to win another championship,” Martinez said. “I know Mike, myself, we’re going to spend hours and hours and hours trying to fill the void with guys we think can potentially help us in the future. And we’ll be back on the podium. I’m really confident about that.”

Rizzo was asked Saturday why the team announces contract lengths for players, as is common practice around the major leagues, but wouldn’t do so in this instance for Martinez.

“The reason is we don’t want anybody to know. That’s the reason,” Rizzo said, before asking the reporter: “How much do you make? How many years do you have?”

Moments later, as the back-and-forth continued, Rizzo said: “It’s kind of an individual thing with certain people. I don’t want you to know what I make or how many years I have. Davey doesn’t want you to know. And I think that it’s only fair … when people don’t want certain information out there, that we don’t give it.”

There were some calling for Martinez to lose his job last season when Washington got off to a 19-31 start. But Rizzo stood by his manager, and the team eventually turned things around, going 74-38 the rest of the way to reach the playoffs as an NL wild-card team.

The Nationals then beat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, where they beat the Houston Astros in Game 7.

Washington joined the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams in major league history to win a World Series after being 12 games below .500 during a season.

“Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s grown so much. He’s really become one of my favorite managers of all,” three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer said after helping Washington win Saturday’s opener of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. “Davey really understands how to manage a clubhouse, manage a team. We saw it in the postseason. He knows how to push the right buttons when everything is on the line.”