The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on a Jose Lobaton walk off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. The victory improves the Rays record to 70-52 as they continue to chase the Boston Red Sox who play the New York Yankees on Sunday Evening. The Rays are 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Wild Card race.
Jose Lobaton had been part of the Rays anemic offense over the first nine frames and had struck out in all three of his previous plate appearances when he stepped into the batters box to face Brad Lincoln in the bottom of the 10th with the bases empty. Lobaton had the count in his favor and was simply looking to put the ball in play when he made solid contact and drove the ball over the right field wall to give the Rays the 2-1 victory.
That moment when your teammate congratulates you on your second walk-off in three games… pic.twitter.com/vBlGOAZtxY
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 18, 2013
When Jose Lobaton hits a home run it is custom for a member of the Rays to bring him a serving of ice cream. After his walk off triple on Friday night he received an assortment of 3 different types of ice cream novelties but tonight was something special. Lobaton said, “I got today, I don’t know, like 10 ice creams…(Price) gave me like four, Matt Joyce gave me like five. And then while I was doing the interviews I had like 10 in my hands. I was like, ‘ah, I can’t eat it right now.”
I told our clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland to have a vat of ice cream on the plane for Lobaton. He earned it.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) August 18, 2013
The other theme in the locker room after the game was finding a way to keep Lobaton’s parents in town as long as possible. This is the first time his father Tomas and mother Maria have seen their son play in the United States. Joe Maddon said, “we have to make them season ticket holders. They’ve got to be here more often. [To The Camera] Mr. and Mrs. Lobaton, please hang out here more often. Pretty spectacular triple and then the home run today.”
After the game Lobaton was asked (jokingly) if he had considered moving his parents here and he responded “No, I don’t think so. I’m happy for them. I would like to have my dad and my mom here all the time, but I can’t do that.”
On Friday evening Lobaton had the walk off triple but the feeling of a walk off homer was different. “It’s different” Lobaton said, “Walk-off triple, it was amazing. Walk -off homer, you run the bases like that and and you know that you won the game, it was unbelievable. Something that you want to do all the time…You want to feel that every day. Hopefully this is not ht last one. I daid to God ‘please give me a couple more'”
Chris Archer allowed only 1 run on a Edwin Encarnacion solo home run in 7 innings of work. He only allowed 4 hits while striking out 5 and walking 0. Joel Peralta worked a scoreless 8th, Fernando Rodney a scoreless 9th, and Jake McGee (3-3, 4.14 ERA) worked a scoreless 10th to pick up the victory.
The Rays opportunities to score throughout the game. In the 4th inning Evan Longoria doubled with 1-out but never advanced. In the 5th inning Yunel Escobar hit a leadoff double but like Longoria the inning before never advanced. In the 6th inning Ben Zobrist hit a 1-out double and Evan Longoria was intentionally walked but Wil Myers grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Rays had their best chance in the 7th inning when James Loney led off with a single. Sean Rodriguez pinch ran for Loney and raced to third on a hit and run single by Yunel Escobar. Jason Bourgeois pinch hit for Kelly Johnson and the Rays put the safety squeeze play on. Bourgeois did not make contact but Sean Rodriguez came too far down the line and ended up being caught in a run down for the first out. Yunel Escobar advanced to 2nd base and he moved up to 3rd on a Bourgeois groundout but was left stranded when Jose Lobaton struck out.