Longoria leads Rays to big win over Yankees

by Gary Shelton on May 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria shows, at 31, that his bat still has some magic./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

He has been here, it seems, since dinosaurs were puppies. You cannot write much of the history of this team until you mention his name.

And still, there is Evan Longoria.

And still, he is pushing for more.

Longo, the Rays all-time leader in just about every hitting category, was at it again Friday night in a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees. Longoria had four hits, and he drove

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Weeks drove in two runs to give the Rays a 4-2 lead./CARMEN MANDATO

Weeks drove in two runs to give the Rays a 4-2 lead./CARMEN MANDATO

in the winning run, and he reminded the world that, at age 31, he has plenty left in the tank.

It was Longoria in the eighth inning Friday, sharply singling to left to drive in catcher Derek Norris from second base with the winning run. The ball was hit hard enough that it was unclear if Norris could score, but he beat Brett Gardner's throw.

“Kudos to D-No for scoring on that and a great send by Charlie (Montoya),” Longoria said. “I hit it hard. I was hoping he would

Norris scored the winning run from second./CARMEN MANDATO

Norris scored the winning run from second./CARMEN MANDATO

just send him and see what happens. Make Gardy make a good throw and make him make a play. I'm happy with the way it turned out.

“I hit it hard, and I hit it right at him. I felt good at the plate today. There are moments when you go up there and you feel great and it doesn't happen. Tonight, it happened.”

Part of the reason it happened was Longoria, who was in 0-for-13 slump when he went to plate for his second at bat. Four straight hits followed.

We have watched him grow up, become a polished pro and a husband and a father. We have seen his big moments, and it felt good to see another one. He is the face of the franchise, the guy who has stayed, the guy who still manages to believe.

"I felt like I was due," Longoria said. "I always feel like I'm due when I'm struggling.

"We need a win in the division," Longoria said. "We're looking up at these guys. That was a good one to take right there."

There aren't many great offensive memories by the Rays that Longoria isn't in the middle of. He's had two seasons with more than 100 RBI (five more than 90). He's had four seasons of more than 30 homers. He's made three all-star games.

He is closer now to the finish line than he is to start. However, Longoria remains hungry.

“I really don't think that it's going to be done (reflection) until we can get back to the playoffs and have a chance to win a World Series,” Longoria said. “The personal records and accolades … I've said it before. I've been here so long they're bound to happen, but ultimately your remembered for the championships that you win and how you perform in the post season. I think this team is marching toward that. We believe in here. It's a fun team to be

Dickerson had two more hits for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Dickerson had two more hits for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

part of right now.”

He said playoffs. He said World Series. He said fun.

Really? Are the dizzying heights of .500 (22-22) affecting Longoria?

Sure, it's fun. Of course it's fun to see the Rays play like this. When they are good, and you don't notice the mounting strikeouts, Tampa Bay is a dangerous offense and it has a pretty good rotation. The bullpen still is a work in progress.

“A lot of us believe in this room,” Longoria said. “We've done a lot of

Stanek is learning the hard way./CARMEN MANDATO

Stanek is learning the hard way./CARMEN MANDATO

good things. You can build off of those things. The guys feel we have a chance to win.

“This team has a great mix of veteran presence and younger guys who are talented. That's kind of the recipe for success. If these young arms can build off their success, it's going to be an interesting race. I like where we are.”

Longoria should know. He was there in the good days for the Rays, and lately, he's been around a lot of bad.

“He is and will be our three-hole hitter, so we've got to get him going,” said first baseman Logan Morrison. “It was good to see him get a bunch of hits tonight and drive in some runs.”

Longoria is now hitting .249, well below his career average. But nights like Friday show that the game hasn't passed him by.

Erasmo went five and a third innings in his first start./CARMEN MANDATO

Erasmo went five and a third innings in his first start./CARMEN MANDATO

The Rays trailed 2-1 through six innings but scored three. Rickie Weeks drove in two runs with a double, his fifth extra base hit in the last 10 games. A homer by Matt Holiday off Ryne Stanek tied it, setting up Longoria's winner.

“They are learning as we go,” manager Kevin Cash said of his bullpen. “That's on me for putting them out there, but that's where we are. Ryne Stanek is going to be fine. I know his outings haven't been the cleanest yet, but it's kind of the style of games that we play. He's going to be a better pitcher and learn from some of those experiences going forward.”

For a while, this seemed like a hard game for the Rays to win. They struck out 13 more times, and started Erasmo Ramirez went only 5 1/3 innings. Stanek blew a save. But Danny Farquhar came on for the win, and Alex Colome got his 11th save.

The Rays and Yankees play again today when Tampa Bay's Matt Andriese pitches against Masahiro Tanaka.

The Rays infielders wait out a pitching change./CARMEN MANDATO

The Rays infielders wait out a pitching change./CARMEN MANDATO

 

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