Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria leads Rays past Sabathia, Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's 4-2 victory over the Yankees was another example of the Rays showing not only their ability but their belief, no matter how a game starts or where it seems headed, that they can come out on top.

"When you get to that point in the year — it's almost September — and you get that vibe among your group, it's kind of a good thing," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've been there before as a playoff team, and it really smells that way right now."

The win in front of 32,862 at the Trop was the Rays' eighth in their past 10 games, improving them to 74-53 to match their season high of 21 games over .500 and keeping them atop the American League East by percentage points over the Red Sox.

They're there for a number of reasons, from the starting pitching getting for the most part back in order, a resurgence in the offense, reliability in the bullpen and spectacular defense on just about a daily basis.

Also, Evan Longoria.

"Longo getting back to being Longo has helped a lot, actually," Maddon said.

For a long time, more than a month, Longoria looked like someone else. But slowly over the past couple of weeks he has gotten more comfortable, and more familiar, with his swing. Saturday was the latest example, as his first three-hit game in two months included a sixth-inning single that put the Rays ahead and an eighth-inning homer, his 27th, that helped make sure they stayed there.

Sure, David Price battled through six innings and an "amorphic" — Maddon's word — strike zone from umpire Jerry Meals, as the Rays won the eighth of his nine meetings with CC Sabathia. Ben Zobrist had the first big hit, doubling in two to tie, his team-high 23rd tying/go-ahead RBI. Sean Rodriguez made a leaping catch at the leftfield wall on what Alfonso Soriano obviously thought was a home run ("He did his hop, jump and his skip, so I figured it was 30 rows deep," Price said). And Fernando Rodney finished, drama-free, for his 30th save.

But it was Longoria who led the way.

"He's us," Price said. "That's what it is. As he goes, we go. A lot of teams probably say that about certain players, but that really stands true behind Longo. … When he's swinging the bat well, you can try and be careful with him, you can make that good pitch, but he is who he is. He'll definitely be an MVP candidate year in, year out like he's been. I love him out there."

Longoria's setup is unique and his swing very feel-oriented, so he said there was no one moment when he suddenly felt he had escaped the extended slump, but more of a gradual process.

"I think sometimes you just have to have a couple of good at-bats and feel what it's supposed to feel like before you can actually start doing it on a consistent basis," he said. "I just continued to hit and work in the cage. After a couple good at-bats, they've just started to pile up lately."

So have the results, as he's hitting .317 over his past 16 games with eight doubles and six homers, after a 33-game stretch with a .174 average and just seven extra-base hits.

"There's so many ups and downs," he said. "Hopefully (I can) ride it out for the rest of the year and help the team to be where we want to be come Sept. 30."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

   
Comments
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

The Marlins apparently found a trade to Giancarlo Stanton's liking, reportedly striking a deal early Saturday to send the slugging outfielder to the Yankees.That's bad news for the Rays and the other AL East teams, who will now have to face Stanton &...
Published: 12/09/17
Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Tampa Bay Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed was up early Saturday to meet up with the Bladerunners team in Clearwater at the ALS Association Florida Chapter's annual Ride, Run, Roll to Defeat ALS, supporting Mike Leist, a former history teacher at St...
Published: 12/09/17
Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Rays officials head to Disney for this week’s winter meetings admitting they don’t know what they’re doing. Wait — that’s not exactly right. It’s more that they don’t know what they’re going to do.Having spent months collecting info and discussing op...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

NEW YORK — In one sense, there was nothing unusual about what Dwight Gooden was doing Tuesday night. In the spirit of the holiday season, he had been summoned to dress like Santa Claus and, as a result, was decked out in a red suit and hat, a curly w...
Published: 12/08/17

Rays sue outgoing concessionaire over "sad history" of failures

The Tampa Bay Rays sued outgoing concessionaire Centerplate in U.S. District Court on Friday, alleging the company harmed the team’s reputation, damaged its facilities and did not pay a fair share of revenue as part of a "sad history of failing to fu...
Published: 12/08/17
Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani decided on his team Friday, and it was something of a surprise as he opted to sign with the Angels.The Mariners and Padres had emerged as the favorites from the seven teams that were chosen, from the full fiel...
Published: 12/08/17
As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

Tampa Bay Rays officials will head to next week's winter meetings at Disney eager to get started making moves and willing to consider just about anything – and trading anybody – that they feel makes sense."We have to be open," GM Erik Nea...
Published: 12/07/17

How Ohtani, Stanton deals could impact Rays’ offseason plans

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays, like much of baseball, are waiting for the white smoke, for Shohei Ohtani to pick where he is signing and for Giancarlo Stanton to decide on accepting a trade to the Cardinals, Giants or whatever other team might be involve...
Published: 12/07/17