Home > Uncategorized > Longoria leads Rays’ power surge vs. Twins

Longoria leads Rays’ power surge vs. Twins

July 6, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — All series, Evan Longoria kept hitting the ball hard, but right at someone.

When the hits finally started falling Wednesday afternoon — especially in key late-game situations — it made a big difference for Longoria and the Rays.

After scoring only two runs in the first two games of the series, the Rays put a dozen across in the finale against the Twins, including a four-run eighth inning and a three-run ninth for a 12-5 victory.

“We’ve been battling so far on this road trip,” Longoria said, “and to be able to come through with a hit like that — [which] kind of opened up the floodgates a little bit for us — it’s a pretty good feeling.”

Longoria singled to left in the eighth off Minnesota reliever Alex Burnett, driving in the go-ahead run for Tampa Bay. As if that wasn’t enough, he added a three-run home run in the ninth for good measure — his 11th of the season.

After picking up just three hits, one home run and four RBIs while batting .115 in his previous seven games, Longoria matched those hit, home run and RBI totals in the series finale against the Twins.

His reward for his performance? Sitting out the bottom of the ninth to rest his sore left foot as the Rays closed out the game.

“If he had not hit that home run, he would’ve had to go out in the ninth inning,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But he hit the home run and I got him off his feet.

“I kind of discussed it with him. I didn’t say, ‘If you hit a home run you’re coming out of the game,’ but it kind of worked out that way.”

Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach got the offense going with a two-run homer in the second, and second baseman Sean Rodriguez added another two-run blast in the eighth. Then, Longoria capped the scoring with his ninth-inning blast.

Between the first two home runs, Tampa Bay put two across in the fourth on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. It added another run in the fifth with a walk and two singles that knocked Twins starter Francisco Liriano out of the game.

Liriano went just 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, four walks, three hit batters and four strikeouts.

“He had no command of his fastball, none,” Maddon said of Liriano. “If we had just taken [pitches], we would’ve had a lot of walks, because we were chasing outside the zone. He was not attacking the zone at all.”

Rays leadoff hitter Johnny Damon was hit twice by Liriano — the second knocking him out of the game with a contusion on his left hand. Sam Fuld replaced Damon, going 2-for-3 with a walk.

X-rays on Damon’s hand came back negative, and he is considered day-to-day.

The 12 runs marked the fourth time this season Tampa Bay had reached double digits offensively, and the second time this year in six games at Target Field. Thanks to the breakout performance by the offense, the Rays overcame a less-than-stellar start by right-hander Wade Davis.

“I thought that it was probably some of the worst stuff that I’ve had all year,” Davis said. “But I battled through it … and it’s a good win for us.”

Davis went five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits and three walks. He struck out just one batter.

In the crucial eighth inning, Fuld singled with one out and Ben Zobrist followed with a walk. Longoria then plated the go-ahead run with a single, and a safety squeeze scored Zobrist on a bunt by B.J. Upton.

Rodriguez made it a four-run game with his fourth home run of the season. All four runs in the eighth were allowed by reliever Alex Burnett, who took the loss.

“They have some really good hitters. They can do a lot of things,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “They can handle the bat and they have a couple guys who can pop it.”

After going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position during the first two games of the series, the Rays were 7-for-14 in those situations Wednesday.

Even with all the offense, though, Maddon was not satisfied with his team’s performance.

“You cannot let those opportunities slip,” Maddon said. “We made a lot of subtle mistakes today that we’ve got to do better with if we expect to go back [to the playoffs] — which we do. We were fortunate to get by today.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: