Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays beat Athletics on Rodriguez homer in 11th

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had been desperately searching for their first walkoff win, a hint of magic that could spark their so-far disappointing season.

And they might have gotten that spark Thursday, Sean Rodriguez circling the bases after his two-out, three-run homer in the 11th lifted Tampa Bay to a 5-2 victory over the A's in front of 11,257 at Tropicana Field. The Rays snapped a four-game losing streak and, they believe, might have changed their fortune.

"It was a seminal moment," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have not had that moment, we've had plenty of opportunities for that moment. I believe there's more of those forthcoming."

"Beautiful," starter Alex Cobb said.

"We needed that," rookie Cole Figueroa said.

The Rays (20-28) had been on track for an easy and — believe it or not — quick win, leading 1-0 entering the ninth inning after Cobb's triumphant return from the disabled list and a seventh-inning rally sparked by Figueroa's first big-league hit. But they appeared headed for another devastating loss after closer Grant Balfour blew a save in the ninth and Josh Lueke gave up the go-ahead run in the 11th.

"I blew the save," Balfour said. "That's the bottom line."

But as the Rays jogged back to the dugout before the bottom of the 11th, their biggest star lit the fire. Evan Longoria has struggled so much recently he quipped that he felt like "I've never played the game before." Longoria was leading off the inning, thanks to Maddon putting him in the No. 2 hole so he'd stop worrying about "driving the whole bus" and just be a "passenger."

Longoria's pep talk in the dugout drove the rally.

"He took off his glove, started clapping," Figueroa said. "He said, 'We got this!' The dugout was a little down, but as soon as he did that, it started to come alive."

Longoria, who was 0-for-4 and in a 22-for-116 skid, battled in an 0-and-2 count against former USF pitcher Dan Otero and ripped a single to left-center.

"That was a big moment," Maddon said.

"As soon as that happened," Figueroa said, "I was like, "We're going to win this game.' "

With one out, Wil Myers— robbed by rightfielder Josh Reddick's leaping catch at the wall in the third — gave the ball another ride. But it was caught on the leftfield warning track.

"I thought he had it," Maddon said.

In six of the Rays' past seven home games, they had the tying run at the plate in their final at-bat, to no avail. Now they were down to their final out. But James Loney singled to put Longoria in scoring position. And scuffling Desmond Jennings — in a 6-for-42 slump, worked the count full after falling behind 0-and-2 to hit an RBI single to center, tying it.

"That," Maddon said. "Was critical."

Rodriguez sealed it by crushing an Otero slider 357 feet just inside the foul pole and over 162 landing. After a rare but raucous postgame clubhouse celebration, having won for just the third time in their past 12 home games, players wondered if they had just created another landmark win before welcoming the reeling Red Sox tonight.

"This is exactly what you need in a tough time that we're going through," Cobb said. "We were really scuffling and losing every way imaginable for a little while. It's got to turn around at some point."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

. Up next

vs. Red Sox

Tonight-Sunday

WHAT'S NEW: The Red Sox have lost seven straight, getting outscored 37-16. Though the Sox are doing their usual good job of working counts and getting on base, but rank near the bottom of the league in runs and average, and struggling vs. right-handers. Losing 3B Will Middlebrooks (fractured finger) led the Sox to re-sign SS Stephen Drew and move Xander Bogaerts to third. Neither Jackie Bradley nor Grady Sizemore has done much. Closer Koji Uehara has been a click less dominating; the rotation is solid though now without LHP Felix Doubront, who hurt his shoulder banging it on a car door.

KEY STAT: The Sox have played the most one-run games in the AL, 15, and have the second-most losses, 10.

CONNECTIONS: Red Sox OF Jonny Gomes and RHP Burke Badenhop are former Rays, 3B coach Brian Butterfield a former Eckerd College assistant; Rays 1B James Loney and LHP Erik Bedard were briefly Red Sox.

SERIES HISTORY: Rays lead 2-1 this season; Sox lead 163-118 overall, 73-66 at Trop.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Comments
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17
Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

For his wife, Brandy, Roy Halladay was so much more than a standout pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.During a a celebration of life ceremony Tuesday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Brandy remembered Halladay — who died Nov...
Published: 11/15/17