ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were in a historic home run drought, without one for three straight games, their longest stretch to start a season.
Then Thursday night, Tampa Bay's first blast made history, too. Third baseman Evan Longoria's three-run homer in the seventh inning tied Carlos Peña for the franchise career record of 163.
Longoria, 28, said the most important thing was that his 370-foot shot to leftfield off Esmil Rodgers sealed a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays. But the significance wasn't lost on the three-time All-Star.
"It's a proud moment for me, because this has been my home for so long and obviously I've made a significant commitment," Longoria said. "And I made it obviously knowing that I have a love for this franchise and for this community, so to be able to do it, it's just one home run in the grand scheme of things, but for whatever it means to this organization and what they meant to me is big."
Longoria will far exceed Peña, a Ray from 2007-2010 and 2012.
"It's great to see that and, of course, he's going to surpass it," manager Joe Maddon said. "My first thought is, 'Thank you, Carlos, for all the work that you had done here.' And the next thing would be Longo has got plenty of opportunities to at least double that number I would imagine."