Jose Lobaton delivers walkoff homer against Red Sox to keep Rays’ season alive

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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.

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Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.