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Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Rays hope Nos 3, 4, 5 hitters break out of slump

Evan Longoria went a combined 0-for-8 in Games 1 and 2. He, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena went a combined 1-for-23.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Evan Longoria went a combined 0-for-8 in Games 1 and 2. He, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena went a combined 1-for-23.

PHILADELPHIA — To leftfielder Carl Crawford, it's just a matter of time before the Rays' big bats break out.

In the first two World Series games, the heart of the order — Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Crawford — are a combined 1-for-23. The Rays salvaged a split because, like they have all season, they manufactured runs and got contributions from other parts of the lineup.

Winning without huge contributions from the trio could be considered a positive sign. But the Rays are sure that, heading into a hitter-friendly stadium such as Citizens Bank Park, the skid is bound to stop.

"We know we're going to have our opportunities to come through at some point," Crawford said. "And in our mind, we don't think we're going to keep on not hitting.

"It's just good pitching. It's the playoffs."

Pitching is part of it, but manager Joe Maddon also said he's going to make a point of meeting with Longoria before tonight's game to go over a mechanical adjustment. Longoria is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.

"I think sometimes when his mechanics get off a little bit, it leads to poor selection, too," Maddon said.

"I think it feeds into the other. Plus, they're pitching pretty good right now."

Maddon noted Longoria tends to bounce back quickly, which the All-Star third baseman proved earlier this postseason. When Longoria was stuck in a 0-for-12 slump heading into Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Maddon had a brief chat with him about not swinging at pitches out of his zone.

Longoria responded that night by going 3-for-5 with a homer and two doubles and continued his run with four hits and two homers in the next two games.

Crawford's only hit this series is a solo homer in Game 1, which he saw as a good sign considering the recent surgery on his right hand. Crawford also had a 5-for-5 game in the ALCS, so he knows it's there.

"I definitely didn't think I'd be hitting a home run in the postseason," he said. "To actually run into one, it definitely gave me a lot of confidence."

With leadoff man Akinori Iwamura (three hits in the first two games) and B.J. Upton (who bounced back with two hits after an 0-for-4 Game 1) setting the table, Crawford said he also is confident the rest of the lineup will clean it up.

"I don't see us struggling at the plate the whole time," Crawford said.

"You've just got to make a few adjustments, and it should be fine."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith @sptimes.com

Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Rays hope Nos 3, 4, 5 hitters break out of slump 10/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:35am]
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