When Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled starting pitcher Rick Porcello out early in Game 3 of the World Series, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
This is the postseason of the quick hook and the extended bullpen, so why not?
Porcello had given up only a run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings when Cora started a parade of relief pitchers that would include starter David Price on two days’ rest and eventually include everyone in the bullpen except rusty left-hander Drew Pomeranz.
He couldn’t argue with the immediate results. The eight pitchers who followed Porcello did not give up an earned run over the next 12 1/3 innings, but the longer the game went on, the more it figured to have a huge impact on the Red Sox’s pitching plans for the remaining two games at Dodger Stadium.
Nobody in the Boston dugout would have cared about that if the Red Sox had won the game and taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the Series, but the 3-2 loss in the longest game ever played in the Fall Classic put tonight’s Game 4 in serious danger since Cora does not have a rested front-line starter.
He used up a pretty good option in extra innings, leaving Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to pitch longer than Porcello, throwing 97 pitches over six-plus innings before Max Muncy hit a no-out, solo homer to lead off the bottom of the 18th inning and end the 7-hour, 20-minute marathon.
Even in defeat, Cora applauded the gutty performance by Eovaldi, who has come back from three major arm surgeries.
“That was one of the best performances in the history of the World Series,” he said during a brief postgame news conference that began at 3:45 a.m.
His options for Game 4 include Pomeranz, ace Chris Sale on three days’ rest or a total bullpen game with a bullpen that has pitched 20 1/3 innings in the first three games.
In that event, former Oriole Eduardo Rodríguez would be the likely starter, because he pitched to only one batter in Game 1 and one batter Friday night.
“We’ll sit down tonight and decide and somebody will start,’’ Cora said, “probably a lefty.”