Typically, the Rays catchers have been known more for their defense than for any offensive abilities they may have. However, this season has been different. Both Rays catchers have been delivering at the plate, and it was a catcher, Jose Lobaton, who was the difference tonight.
The Rays were looking for a solid outing by Jeremy Hellickson, and it did not appear as though they would get it at first. He threw 27 pitches in the first inning, giving up an RBI single to Adam Lind as the Blue Jays got on the board. However, he started to settle in after the first, becoming more aggressive and attacking the zone with positive results.
Tampa finally got to Blue jays starter R.A. Dickey in the third. Yunel Escobar hammered a triple to right, and scored on Lobaton’s base hit. However, Hellickson began to falter in the fifth, giving up two out singles to Edwin Encarnacion and Anthony Gose in the fifth and sixth innings as the Blue Jays pulled ahead once more. Hellickson would leave after the sixth, giving up three runs on nine hits and a walk, striking out three.
Yet, the Rays mounted a comeback. Matthew Joyce hit his first home run in over two months to cut the lead to one in the bottom of the sixth, and the Rays took the lead the very next inning. Escobar had an RBI goroundout to tie the game, and Sam Fuld singled to left to plate the go ahead run. Then, the Rays bullpen issues reared up once again. Joel Peralta, who had been the Rays most reliable reliever for much of the season, faltered in the eighth, putting runners on second and third with one out. Gose grounded to short, but Escobar’s throw home was offline, allowing the Blue Jays to tie the game.
In the top of the ninth, Lobaton came through again. With runners on first and third, Fernando Rodney threw a changeup down and in to Brett Lawrie, but Lobaton managed to backhand the ball before it skipped away, likely saving a run and preserving the tie. Naturally, with the Rays needing some more walkoff magic, it was Lobaton who delivered. After Escobar coaxed a one out walk, Lobaton slapped a line drive down the line to right. Jose Bautista had trouble coming up with the ball in the corner, allowing Escobar to score as Lobaton found himself with a walkoff triple, just the second triple of his career. Lobaton was easily the offensive star, going 3-4 with two RBIs and a triple.
Escobar was 1-3 with a triple, a walk and two runs scored.