Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.


Rays vs. Yankees, 1:40, Tropicana Field

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

Longoria leads Rays past Sabathia, Yankees 08/24/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 25, 2013 12:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
  2. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  3. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  4. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    UPDATE, 6:36: Cash said the Rays will "be smart" in deciding whether to use Farquhar, Hunter and Colome tonight, so it could be a closing combo of the Blaze Brothers, Alvarado and Stanek, with Whitley another option. ... Cash said De Leon provides depth for tonight, and mentioned that some of the other relief …

  5. USF baseball heads to Gainesville for region play


    TAMPA — Had USF's players and coaches been less confident in their NCAA tournament resume, Monday's selection show might have induced fidgeting, perhaps even frustration.

    USF coach Mark Kingston looks on during the American Athletic Conference tournament last week at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]