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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

What once seemed certain for the Red Sox is now in doubt

Max Muncy hit a game winning home run in the 18th inning.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

LOS ANGELES – It was the longest game in World Series history.

It lasted 18 innings, consuming seven hours and 20 minutes.

And it may have seriously pivoted things in this suddenly-fascinating 2018 World Series. The Dodgers rallied from almost certain October death in the bottom of the 13th Friday night/Saturday morning and went on to beat the Red Sox on Max Muncy’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the 18th.

Los Angeles’s 3-2 victory ended at 3:30 Eastern Daylight Time.

“We could have put them away and we didn’t,’’ admitted Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

And all we can ask is . . . why?

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Why did Nathan Eovaldi – Boston’s scheduled Game 4 starter – have to come into a tie game the 12th inning? Eovaldi wound up throwing 97 pitches in six-plus innings.

Why did the Red Sox pitch to Yasiel Puig in the bottom of the 13th when they had first base open and Austin Barnes on deck?

And why did Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler try to throw to first when he got his cleat caught after running to his right and fielding Puig’s hard grounder up the middle?

“He (Kinsler) seemed like he was a little off-balance when he caught it,’’ Cora said.

A game that started on the 32nd anniversary of the day that the Bill Buckner game ended at Shea Stadium wound up being downright Buckner-esque for Boston.

The 2018 World Series was effectively over. Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the 13th, the Red Sox were one out away from taking a 3-0 series lead. Cora had used 23 players, including 12 players in the No. 9 spot in the order. He had Christian Vazquez playing first base for the first time in his big league career.

Eovaldi was ready to close it out. Muncy was on second base with two out and Boston needed only one more out to end the interminable game. Then Puig ripped his hot grounder toward center, and Kinsler went to his right and gloved it, but got his cleat caught as he pivoted to throw. The throw went way wide of Vazquez and Muncy came all the way around from second – just like Ray Knight with the winning run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

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“It’s tough to swallow,’’ said Kinsler, a respected veteran of 13 big league seasons. “There’s nothing they can say in that room to make me feel better.’’

The Dodgers won it in the bottom of the 18th when Muncy drove an Eovaldi full count pitch over the wall in left-center. If the Dodgers go on to win this World Series, it will be a moment every bit as big as Kirk Gibson’s 1988 blast off Dennis Eckersley.

Max Muncy's walk-off home run

So the World Series has turned. Instead of a 3-0 lead, the Sox are up 2-1 and have softie suspect Drew Pomeranz, slumping/hurting Chris Sale on three-days rest, or trick-or-treat lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound for Game 4.

The series looked like it was over, but now it looks like it could go seven with the Dodgers lined up to used wonderboy Walker (No Days Off) Buehler in Game 7.

Cora had been on a roll. Everything he did was the right thing. But then he got a little greedy in Game 3. He went for it. And he lost.

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Sorry, but if you are going to burn your Game 4 starter in Game 3, you had better win the game. The Sox appeared to have won the game. But then they didn’t.

The top four batters in the Boston lineup went 0-for-28. Xander Bogaerts was 0-8 and Mookie Betts 0-7. Betts has now played 19 postseason games, hitting no homers and driving home only three runs.

Any new pressure on the Sox and Cora?

“No pressure at all,’’ said the manager.

Alex Cora game 3 press conference

The Sox can make all the pain of Game 3 go away by winning two of the next four, but what once seemed certain is now in doubt.

Oh, and can we pause for a moment and say a few words about Eduardo Nunez?

“Nunie” did not enter Game 3 until the 10th inning, but he seemed to be involved in every play for the rest of the night and was not upright at the end of any of them. Nunez got tangled up with the catcher. He splashed across first base when the Sox went ahead in the top of the 13th . He dove into the stands. He fell on the mound while fielding a popup.

The man should be a soccer player. He is baseball’s all-time drama king. Nunez was playing third in the 13th when the Sox were one out away.

The Coramen had won six straight postseason games, eight of nine, and nine of 11 overall. They had outscored the mighty Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers by an aggregate 70-42.

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Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred no doubt wants a longer series and a return to Fenway. A six, or seven-game Fall Classic generates better ratings and creates more profit.

Now it looks like he is going to get it. The 2018 Red Sox have rebounded any time we doubted them. After a disheartening loss at home to the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS they went to New York and spanked the Bronx Bombers, 16-1.

Then they shredded the World Champion Astros in four straight games after losing the opener of the ALCS.

Friday night it was looking like a sweep.

Not anymore.


Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com