Longoria feels "inches away" from coming out of slump
As hot as the Rays have been, manager Joe Maddon admitted it’s “unusual” that they just had their best month in club history while their best player - third baseman Evan Longoria - has struggled.
Longoria hit just .194 (19-for-98) in July, the second lowest mark of his career for any month (.189 in July 2009). He did have an 11-game hitting streak last month, but also 37 strikeouts.
“I feel like I’m inches away from breaking out of it,” Longoria said. “The good thing is we’re still winning. I don’t really feel any pressure to do any more than I’ve been doing lately. Obviously, I’d love to be hitting a home run every night and driving guys in. But we’ve been winning, so that really kind of gives me a peace of mind to be able to continue to work and trust that it’s going to come around.”
For Longoria, it’s more mental than mechanical, pointing out Wednesday’s strikeout with the bases loaded in the seventh an example of what’s been going wrong; he’s looking for one pitch, and getting another.
Longoria, facing Diamondbacks RHP Heath Bell, said he probably should have swung at the first pitch, which was out over the plate, but he wanted to get in the rhythm of the at-bat. After working a 3-2 count, Longoria was expecting a fastball, but was frozen with a slider on the outside corner, ending the Rays biggest threat in a 7-0 loss.
“Those are the kind of at-bats I want to be up there in and the situation I want to be in, to be able to come through and start to get that feeling again,” Longoria said.
Longoria still leads the Rays in homers (21) and RBI (58), but also leads them in strikeouts (111), which puts him on pace to surpass his career high (140 in 2009). Maddon lauding how he’s not letting any offensive scuffles impact him defensively, where he’s playing “great.”
Longoria has history on his side, as while he’s a career .233 hitter in July, that jumps to .267 in August and .291 in September/October.
“The hitting is going to come back,” Maddon said. “He’s going to start smoking the ball like he usually does, but it’s unusual to think that we’ve been this hot for this long and he’s struggled a bit.”