Both managers were forced to make key decisions in Monday’s Game 3. Neither skipper did any second guessing after the contest, which the Rays won 5-4 to extend the ALDS.
Jose Lobaton provided the game’s biggest highlight with a walk-off home run off Koji Uehara in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Rays were in that position because Evan Longoria hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning that at the time tied the game 3-3.
“Truly, Longo has done that in the past. It’s something, I don’t want to say experiences in baseball, you’ve come to expect that from him on moments. To sit there, we’ve been through a lot of stuff around here for the last several years [and] that ranks right up there with the best stuff, obviously,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “You can talk about the last game of the season, which has to be in some regards, but look at this whole week working up to today, and then this game is even more dramatic than the other games we had already won. It’s really an incredible day for the Rays.”
You could make the case that the Red Sox should have walked Longoria with first base open, two outs and rookie Wil Myers — who had been 0-for-12 in the series — coming up. Instead, Clay Buchholz, who struck out Longoria in his previous at-bat, pitched to the three-time All-Star, and the result was Boston’s worst nightmare. Buchholz left a 1-0 changeup over the plate, and Longoria deposited it into the left field seats.
Longoria’s home run tied the game and finally gave the Rays some momentum in a series that had been dominated by the Red Sox to that point. But while it all might have been avoided had the Red Sox walked Longoria and taken their chances with Myers, who later left the game with cramping in both legs, John Farrell said that he never gave much thought to the idea of issuing a free pass in that situation.
“No, not to bring the go‑ahead run to the plate,” Farrell said after the game. “Clay had struck him out, popped him up on two other changeups, and he got ahead in the count 0‑1. The changeup was near the spot that he tried to throw one down and in on him, just didn’t get to the bottom of the zone as much. But, no, no consideration on walking him.”
The Rays and Red Sox scratched across a run in the bottom of the eighth and top of the ninth, respectively, before Lobaton launched his walk-off blast. Everything that transpired stemmed from Longoria’s long ball, though, as the Red Sox seemed to be in complete control of the game and the series until that point.