LOS ANGELES — Alex Cora was walking out of his postgame press conference after Saturday night’s 9-6 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the World Series when he turned around.
“David Price is starting tomorrow,” he said.
Cora had said earlier in the day that the Sox would be starting Chris Sale in Game 5 on Sunday night against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. But they switched to Price, who started and threw 88 pitches in Game 2 on Wednesday and 13 more in relief in Game 3 on Friday.
“We feel like David is good. He’s OK,” Cora said. “It’s something we talked about before the game.”
Cora further explained that they feel Price is well suited for Dodger Stadium and has been throwing the ball well.
But it also speaks to the team’s caution with Sale, who has been dealing with shoulder pain for three months.
Holding Sale back for Game 6 — if needed — would give him two more days of rest. Or they could use Sale in relief of Price.
“We feel that for the team, for where we’re at pitching-wise it’s good to go with David,” Cora said. “We talked about it the whole day and we decided. I just talked to Chris and David, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Price allowed two runs over 12 innings in his last two playoff starts, beating the Dodgers with six solid innings in Game 2. Now he gets a chance to pitch the Sox to a championship.
Flip the switches
The Red Sox took outfield positioning to an extreme in Game 3, twice having all three players change positions when Manny Machado came to the plate for the Dodgers and once for Brian Dozier.
Machado, a righthanded pull hitter, had a hard-hit single to left field in the sixth inning. When he came up again in the eighth, Cora moved center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to left field, right fielder Mookie Betts to center, and left fielder J.D. Martinez to right.
The idea was to get their best defenders over to the pull side. It also was to limit the risk with Martinez, who was playing with a sore right ankle.
The Sox did it again for Dozier in the ninth inning and again in the 10th for Machado. On that occasion, it was Brock Holt who went from left to right.
Machado struck out in the eighth and popped to shortstop in the 10th. Dozier fouled out to the catcher.
“We were talking about it in the game. It started with Machado,” Cora said. “He’s going to pull the ball. Jackie has the best arm and Mookie does, too. If he goes the other way it’s by accident. Seems like he’s in pull mode.”
The switching stopped when hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi started the 12th inning. The feeling was he’d be harder to pull. Plus Martinez was out of the game at that point.
Praise for Eovaldi
Eovaldi, who pitched in relief in Games 1 and 2, returned in Game 3 and went six innings for the Sox, taking the loss when Max Muncy homered leading off the 18th inning.
Eovaldi, who was scheduled to start Saturday, threw 97 pitches and was throwing 97 m.p.h. in his final inning.
All that from a pitcher who was on the disabled list at the start of the season recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.
Eovaldi has appeared in six postseason games and allowed four earned runs over 22⅓ innings. He has started twice and relieved four times.
“After the game was over I started crying because that was — I mean, he’s grinding. Every pitch,” starter Rick Porcello said. “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 and I don’t know. I’m really proud of him.”
When the game ended, Price came out of the dugout right away to console Eovaldi.
“Never been more proud of a teammate than I am right now,” Price wrote on Instagram. “Nasty Nate is a legend.”
Bradley had similar thoughts.
“Tremendous, amazing, spectacular. I want him on my side 10 times out of 10,” Bradley said. “Nothing but love. That was something special.”
Said Kershaw: “He’s basically a starter this year. So to do that, it’s incredible.”
What a night
There were plenty of hard-to-believe factoids that came out of Game. 3 Such as:
■ At 7 hours, 20 minutes, it was the longest postseason game in Major League history by 57 minutes. It also was the longest game in Red Sox history by 31 minutes.
■ The last game of any kind that was longer was a 25-inning game between the White Sox and Brewers in 1984 that lasted 8:06.
■ Each team used 23 players, nine of the pitchers. Prior to Friday, the only other team to use 23 players in a postseason game were the 1991 Twins in Game 3 of the World Series at Atlanta.
■ There were 561 pitches thrown.
■ Game 3 lasted longer than the entire 1939 World Series, a four-game sweep of the Reds by the Yankees that took 7:05.
The grass at Dodger Stadium is very spongy, several Sox players said. Even Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed. “I don’t want to say cushiony, but it’s a very soft dirt,” he said. The turf contributed to Ian Kinsler’s error in the 13th inning on Friday that gave the Dodgers the tying run. “When I planted to turn to throw, the turf kind of gave way in the act of throwing and just sailed it wide,” he said . . . There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the latest mass shooting in the United States, which was at a synagogue in Pittsburgh earlier in the day . . . Kobe Bryant introduced the Dodgers lineup to the crowd . . . Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley threw out the first pitch to Kirk Gibson. In 1988, Gibson hit a walkoff home run off Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series as the Dodgers beat the Oakland Athletics.