LOS ANGELES (AP) — From upper-deck spectator to October ace.
Walker Buehler looked nothing like the rookie he is, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers the pitching performance they desperately needed in Game 3 of the World Series.
With the Dodgers facing a 2-0 deficit, Buehler shut out the Boston Red Sox for seven innings, holding the highest-scoring team in the majors to two measly singles. Los Angeles finally won 3-2 on Max Muncy's home run off Nathan Eovaldi in the 18th, ending the longest game in postseason history after 7 hours, 20 minutes.
Buehler threw a career-high 108 pitches. After he was pulled, closer Kenley Jansen gave up a tying home run to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth, and the game went deep into extra innings.
A year ago, Buehler and his younger sister watched Game 2 of the World Series against Houston from an upper level at Dodger Stadium. He'd made his big league debut earlier in the year, pitched a little in relief and was left off the postseason roster.
This time, he was the center of attention.
The 24-year-old Buehler inserted his name among the Dodgers pitching greats who cemented their reputations in October: Koufax, Drysdale, Valenzuela and Hershiser.
Fittingly, Sandy Koufax stood and applauded Buehler as he placidly strode off the mound to end the sixth.
With two outs in the seventh, fans were on their feet chanting "Walker Buehler!" and whipping blue towels.
Once J.D. Martinez went down swinging for the third out, the crowd of 53,114 erupted and Buehler, usually unemotional, let out a roar and exhorted the fans to get even louder. He walked a gauntlet of high-fives back in the dugout, sharing a hug with veteran ace Clayton Kershaw.
Buehler walked none, struck out seven and threw a career-high 108 pitches.
"I like our guy today. I think Walker is battle-tested. I think he's been in some tough spots and really come out on the other side," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game.
"So in this moment, Game 3, first game back home, I think he's ready for this moment," he said.
Was he ever.
The performance came after Buehler pitched Game No. 163 against Colorado, giving Los Angeles a record sixth straight NL West title, and then started Game 7 of the NL Championship Series at Milwaukee as the Dodgers won their second straight pennant.