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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Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.