Stats & Info: Jose Lobaton

Lobaton with an unlikely walk-off homer

October, 8, 2013
Joe Maddon described the Tampa Bay Rays win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 as both interesting and wonderful.

Jose Lobaton was the one who helped make it so, with a walk-off homer that kept Tampa Bay’s season alive.

Walk-off homers tend to produce notes that usually fit the interesting and wonderful description. Here are a few that we found:

Five fun facts about this walk-off home run
Lobaton’s home run was the 46th walk-off homer in postseason history and first by the Rays.

It was the fourth walk-off home run against the Red Sox, the first since Aaron Boone hit one against them in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. The four walk-off homers allowed are tied with the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros for the most all-time.

Lobaton is the first catcher to hit a walk-off homer in a postseason game since Todd Pratt hit a series-ender for the Mets against the Diamondbacks in the 1999 NLDS.

This is the third straight season that a player has hit a walk-off home run with his team facing postseason elimination. David Freese hit one in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals against the Rangers. Jayson Werth hit one for the Nationals against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.

Lobaton has nine career home runs. The last player with fewer career home runs at the time of his postseason walk-off was Chris Burke, who had five at the time of his NLDS winner for the Astros against the Braves in 2005.

Inside the At-Bat: The Walk-Off Homer
This was not the first time that Lobaton has had a big hit for the Rays this season. He had a walk-off triple and a walk-off homer against the Blue Jays in the same weekend in mid-August.

But this one, against Red Sox closer extraordinaire Koji Uehara, would be a little more amazing.

Uehara had allowed only one earned run in his previous 41 1/3 innings entering Monday and hadn’t allowed a homer since June 30.

He had faced 142 consecutive batters without allowing a home run before Lobaton took him deep.

Uehara threw a split-fingered fastball that dropped to the bottom of the strike zone, high enough for Lobaton to do damage against. It was the lowest pitch in terms of location among the 10 pitches he’s hit for home runs in his career.

But it also matched the farthest he’s hit a home run-- 419 feet.

It was the 45th time Lobaton saw a splitter as a hitter in his career.

The previous 44 resulted in nine outs, one walk … and no hits.

Rays' rally all about the fantastic finish

September, 28, 2012

U.S. Presswire/Kim KlementJoe Maddon has given the Rays late-game efforts a big thumbs-up.
A year removed from the miracle that was Game 162 of the 2011 season, the Tampa Bay Rays have worked their way back into this wild card race with an eight-game winning streak.

The Rays are even with the Los Angeles Angels in the standings, two games behind the Oakland Athletics and three games behind the Baltimore Orioles, with whom they close the season.

What’s been key to this surge? Some of the same elements that came into play in the days leading up to Game 162 a year ago.

Timely hitting
A quick check of the stats would indicate that the offense has been overpowering. That was true for the first half of the win streak, when the Rays hit ridiculously well.

But in the last four games, the offense has reverted back to the form it showed for most of the season, as the chart on the right shows.

The back end of the winning streak has been highlighted by repeated late-game success in pressure situations both for their hitters and pitchers.

Case in point:

Sunday -- The Rays turned a 1-0 eighth-inning lead into a 3-0 cushion on Evan Longoria's two-run double.

Tuesday -- A sixth-inning single by Jose Molina produced two runs, extending a one-run lead to a three-run lead in an eventual 5-2 victory over the Red Sox

Wednesday -- A seventh-inning RBI double by Jose Lobaton turned a one-run lead into a two-run lead in a 4-2 win in Fenway Park.

Thursday -- Longoria’s ninth-inning home run off Brett Myers snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Rays a 3-2 win over the White Sox.

The interesting thing about this is that it runs counter to what the Rays offense has done all season. The Rays have rarely gotten offense when they needed it.

Tampa Bay ranks last in the majors in runs scored (143), batting average (.201), and OPS (.591) from the seventh inning on in 2012.

Seventh Inning = Game Over
The Rays pitching staff has succeeded in turning these games into six-inning contests.

In the last three innings during this win streak, opponents are hitting .184 with a .507 OPS.

In the last four games, Rays’ pitchers have been impossible to score against in the last three innings.

In them, Rays opponents have not scored a run in innings seven through nine, and they’ve managed just five hits in 42 at-bats.

Rays pitchers have been able to thwart overeager hitters with soft stuff. David Price, normally reliant on his fastball, got six of his last nine outs on Tuesday with offspeed pitches. Fernando Rodney has gotten six outs with changeups in his last four appearances, including game-ending strikeouts in the last two.

Looking ahead
Late-game success may again play a large role on Friday night because the Rays are facing one of their biggest nemeses. White Sox starter Gavin Floyd is 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA in five career starts against them.

The good news for the Rays -- he may not be around at game’s end, when the Rays are just warming up. Floyd has only pitched into the seventh inning once in his last six starts.