If not for Max Muncy, the former Keller High School star, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox might still be playing Game 3 of the World Series.
If not for Ian Kinsler, the former Texas Rangers All-Star, the Red Sox might have a 3-0 lead in the Fall Classic.
Muncy ended the longest game in World Series history early Saturday morning with a solo homer in the 18th inning as the Dodgers walked off with a 3-2 victory and put life back into their Series chances.
“This was a gut-wrenching game for both sides,” said Muncy, who nearly hit a walk-off homer in the 15th. “This is one of those games that whoever came out on top is going to have a lot of momentum going into tomorrow.
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“This was an extremely long game, 18 innings. A lot of pitchers were used. Every position player was used. Injuries on both sides. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up. It’s one of those things when you’re able to come out on top from a game like this, you have to feel it gives you a little momentum going to the next one.”
The Dodgers, though, needed a throwing error on Kinsler with two outs in the 13th to forge a 2-2 tie. That came three innings after Kinsler was thrown out at home plate trying to score on an Eduardo Nunez flyball to center field.
The out at home shouldn’t be held against Kinsler, though Red Sox fans were perturbed by his entire trip around the bases. He was nearly picked off at first base as a pinch runner, and he slid past third base after a single by Brock Holt of Stephenville.
Kinsler, though, would have been better off holding onto the ball after stumbling while fielding a Yasiel Puig grounder rather than attempting to a throw.
It was well wide of first baseman Christian Vazquez, who had replaced former Ranger Mitch Moreland, allowing the tying run to score and turning one of the longest games in World Series history into the longest at 7 hours, 20 minutes.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win,” Kinsler told reporters. “I feel terrible. I feel like I let the team down right there.
“I lost my footing a little bit, but right there I was trying to keep the ball in with a guy on second base, try not to let that ball go up the middle. I overran it a little bit and then when I planted to turn to throw, the turf kind of gave way in the act of throwing and just sailed it wide. I just had the last out in my glove and couldn’t get it over there. It was tough to swallow.”
Muncy, who went to Baylor, ended it with an opposite-field shot off hard-throwing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. It was the latest big moment in an out-of-nowhere season for Muncy, who opened 2018 at Triple A.
The 28-year-old was promoted in mid-April and by the All-Star break was so indispensable to the Dodgers and was hitting homers at such a high rate that he participated in the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities.
He finished the season with 35 homers and a .973 OPS over 395 at-bats. His 11.3 at-bats per homer rate led MLB.
“It’s been a dream,” Muncy said. “This whole year has been 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.”