Monday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox was not won with ease, but after a 5-4 victory, the Tampa Bay Rays have forced a Game 4. The Rays did not play perfect baseball last night, but they got the breaks that they needed, especially when they needed it most. Jose Lobaton hit a ninth inning walk-off homerun to keep the Rays season alive, and hopefully give them the momentum that they will need to win this series.
It was Evan Longoria’s 28th birthday on Monday, and he celebrated the occasion by hitting a three-run homerun off of Clay Buchholz in the fifth. This tied up the game after the Rays had gotten off to a slow, demoralizing start. The other birthday boy, Alex Cobb, got the start for the Rays on his 26th birthday, but unfortunately did not pitch the way that his team had hoped. Cobb threw for five innings and allowed three runs, putting the pressure on the bullpen to keep the season alive. The bullpen stayed strong until the top of the ninth when closer Fernando Rodney came in to finish the game. Rodney blew the save when Dustin Pedroia grounded out to knock in the runner from third base and tie up the game.
This allowed the Rays three more outs before having to go into extra innings, and most likely being forced to burn through more of their bullpen. With two outs and no men on, Jose Lobaton drove the ball over the wall and into the Rays Touch Tank, to give his team the 5-4 victory. This was Lobaton’s third walk-off hit this season, and he has definitely proved to be one of the Rays biggest clutch players.
History has shown that walk-off homeruns in the playoffs are something that teams really seem to rally around. The Rays got one at the right time and have given themselves a chance to come back in this series. Game 4 of the series will be held tonight in Tampa.