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.
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.
Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.
As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”
The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.