The Boston Red Sox were a clutch hit away from sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays and advancing to the American League Championship Series in Game 3.
But the clutch hit they were so desperately looking for came from the other side of the diamond as it was Rays catcher Jose Lobaton who provided the dramatics thanks to a walk-off home run, putting the Red Sox celebration on hold for at least for twenty-four hours.
Boston no longer needs to wait.
Facing elimination, Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson only lasted 1+ inning as Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to go with a pitcher by committee, substituting nine pitchers in the would be season ending game. Hellickson had a fine first inning, though quickly lost command which resulted in his yanking before ever recording an out in the second.
The pitcher by committee format did well considering the circumstances, tossing six innings of scoreless ball as they were staked to a one run lead after a David DeJesus single in the bottom half of the sixth. That run was charged to Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who pitched fantastic giving up just the one earned run in 5.2 innings of work.
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, that lead would quickly evaporate as Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts scored on a wild pitch the following inning, which also moved Jacoby Ellsbury into scoring position. He would score moments later on a two-out Shane Victorino bleeder to shortstop, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 advantage that they would not relinquish.
Boston closer Koji Uehara was summoned in the bottom half of the eighth inning for a four out save, which he converted with relative ease, especially after the Red Sox added an insurance run thanks to a mini implosion from Tampa closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth.
The Red Sox, who finished with the American Leagues best record will await the winner of the Detroit Tigers – Oakland Athletics series and will open the American League Championship Series on Saturday, October 12th at Fenway Park.