The Rays will live to see another day.
After Fernando Rodney blew a save in the top of the ninth inning, Jose Lobaton delivered a walkoff solo homer off Koji Uehara in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rays a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALDS. Joe Maddon’s squad continues to make a habit of winning with their backs up against the wall.
The Red Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Alex Cobb tonight, but the Rays evened things up when Evan Longoria launched a game-tying three-run blast off Clay Buchholz in the bottom of the fifth inning. They rallied for the go-ahead run on an RBI ground out from Delmon Young in the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Red Sox were able to tie it against Rodney in the ninth. Uehara, who has been virtually untouchable for months, began the bottom of the ninth with two quick outs, but Lobaton ended it with a long homer which landed in the fish tank in distant center field. Interestingly, Lobaton was batting in the pitcher’s spot after Maddon gave up the DH when Wil Myers left due to injury. The decision was questioned at the time, but Maddon comes out smelling like roses. By the way, Lobaton’s walkoff blast was the first homer allowed by Uehara since June 30.
With the Red Sox now holding a 2-1 advantage in the ALDS, the series will resume tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay will send Jeremy Hellickson to the hill while Boston will go with Jake Peavy.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.