Chipper Jones has no intention of going out with a whimper.
Atlanta’s future Hall of Fame third baseman launched a three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as the Braves edged the Phillies 8-7 on Sunday.
The Braves trailed 7-3 entering the bottom of the ninth before getting two on against Jeremy Horst. Papelbon came on with one out for what looked like a pretty easy save chance, but after striking out Lyle Overbay on a pitch that looked outside, he walked Michael Bourn to load the bases. Martin Prado then hit a chopper down the line that Kevin Frandsen couldn’t decide to how to play. It ended up getting past him for a two-run double, allowing Chipper to come up and end the Braves’ three-game losing streak with a bomb to right center.
It was Chipper’s ninth career walkoff homer. He also had one against the Phillies back on May 2 in an 11-inning game. Before that, he hadn’t had one since 2006. It’s the second time he’s had a walkoff homer with the Braves trailing, as opposed to being a tie game.
Papelbon blew his fourth save in 35 opportunities. He’s given up six homers this year after allowing just three in his final season with Boston.
Jones, who reiterated after the game that he still intends to retire at season’s end, is hitting .302 with 14 homers and 58 RBI.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.