There were no brooms for the bearded bunch to wield Monday night as Tampa Bay’s little-known backup catcher, Jose Lobaton, gave the Rays sudden life against the Sox in the best-of-five ALDS.
Lobaton’s bottom of the ninth home run to right center off of Sox closer Koji Uehara gave the Rays a 5-4 victory and cut Boston’s advantage in the series in half. Game 4 is Tuesday night in Tampa Bay (8:37, TBS) with Jake Peavy and Jeremy Hellickson scheduled to start.
The Red Sox held an early 3-0 lead in Game 3 and it looked as though they would walk away from the series without much of a fight from Tampa. But in the fifth inning, Evan Longoria’s swooping swing connected big-time with a Clay Buchholz offering as the Rays third baseman tied the game at three with a three-run homer to left.
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In the bottom of the eighth with two men on, Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia got tangled up just behind second base as they both attempted to field a sharply hit grounder up the middle by Yunel Escobar. Neither were able to make a play on the ball, everyone wound up safe for Tampa Bay, and a batter later, pinch-hitter Delmon Young drove in Sam Fuld on a sharply hit ground out to first to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.
The Red Sox did display some of the ninth inning magic they're known for this season as they did a terrific job of manufacturing a run. A bloop, opposite field single by Jacoby Ellsbury moved pinch-runner Xander Bogaerts to second and the Red Sox had two men on with no outs in the ninth. Shane Victorino then bunted Bogaerts to third and Dustin Pedroia put the finishing touches on things with a ground out to short that plated Bogaerts.
The Red Sox scored their first run of the game in the first inning, courtesy of a blunder by Ben Zobrist at second base. Dustin Pedroia’s grounder to third seemed as though it would ultimately result in a double play, but when Zobrist went to turn it, he was disrupted by a sliding Shane Victorino. Zobrist’s throw was off the mark and Ellsbury crossed the plate to put Boston up, 1-0.
What they'll be saying: If you believe in momentum in sports, with two swings of the bat the Rays now have it. Evan Longoria's clout showed that the Rays weren't going down without a fight and Jose Lobaton's walk-off homer made the Rays and their fans instantly think they can climb out of that 0-2 hole.
It will be extremely interesting to see how Koji Uehara responds. He was untouchable in the regular season, but in his first pressure situation in the playoffs he gave up a home run to a relative unknown.