ST. PETERSBURG — Rays catcher Jose Lobaton experienced a hero's high following Monday's stunning walk-off homer, mobbed in a wild clubhouse celebration and given more ice cream than even he could handle.
But in Tuesday's season-ending 3-1 loss to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, Lobaton, 28, was on the opposite end of the spectrum, as a wild pitch by Joel Peralta bounced past him in a critical seventh-inning sequence, letting the tying run score.
With Red Sox runners on first and third and two outs, Peralta's first pitch to Shane Victorino was a curveball in the dirt in front of Lobaton. He went down to block it, but it got to the backstop, with Xander Bogaerts racing home from third to tie it at 1. Jacoby Ellsbury, trying to steal second on the pitch, got to third.
Lobaton said Victorino's fake bunt obstructed his vision: "In the last second, I lost the ball," he said. "But it's no excuse."
Two pitches later, Ellsbury scored on Victorino's broken-bat infield single, with Victorino beating a throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Lobaton said it was a pleasant surprise to get the starting nod Tuesday, and he got a Tropicana Field ovation before his first-at bat, a single in the third. Manager Joe Maddon had Lobaton start over veteran catcher Jose Molina, believing there might be some residue from Lobaton's memorable Monday.
After all, Lobaton kept the Rays season alive. Monday, he became the first player to hit a two-out, walkoff homer in an elimination game, a 412-foot blast into the Rays touch tank off previously unhittable Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Lobaton said he watched the replay of it about 20 times, and his parents saw his third walkoff hit of the season on TV from their home in Venezuela. Maddon ranked it among the top five moments in franchise history.
"I don't try to be a hero all the time," Lobaton said, "but things are going to happen."
Good things just don't happen every night.
"Right now, I'm pretty sad," Lobaton said.