Longo manages another 20-homer season

by Gary Shelton on September 30, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria watches his 20th home run of the season in the fifth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Longoria watches his 20th home run of the season in the fifth./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Saturday, 3 a.m.

For Evan Longoria, it will not go down as a memorable season. There was too little power and not enough hits for that.

Still, it was a keeper of a season.

Longoria hit his 20th home run — his ninth season out of the last 10 with that many -- to lead the Rays to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The win improved the Rays' record to 78-82 with two games to go.

For the second straight night, Tampa Bay had to use a patchwork pitching performance for the win. Jake Odorizzi started and gave up only two hits in

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Longoria has hit at least 20 homers in nine of 10 seasons./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Longoria has hit at least 20 homers in nine of 10 seasons./ANDREW J. KRAMER

four innings. But he left the game with right knee soreness — he says there was no structural damage — and four relievers finished the last five innings of two-hit, shutout baseball.

Logan Morrison of the Rays had two hits, including his 38th home run of the season.

Longoria's homer gave the Rays four players with 20 homers (not counting Lucas Duda, who had most of his with the Mets). It was the fifth straight season that Longoria has had at least 20 homers.

Odorizzi had a two-hitter going before injuring his knee./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Odorizzi had a two-hitter going before injuring his knee./ANDREW J. KRAMER

“Special player,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said of Longoria. “That’s basically sums it up. Longo does it on the offensive side, defensive side, in the clubhouse. We are fortunate to have him. I know this year he’ll look back and say that this wasn’t his strongest, but it’s still a testament to him that he’s grinding through it, he’s out there, plays through a bunch of injuries constantly. I’m glad he got it so I can give him a day off tomorrow.”

Longoria wasn't quite willing to accept the platitudes.

“I felt like I left a lot out there this year,” Longoria said. “It's satisfying to hear that, but it's a little disappointing, too. Just got to work harder in the off-season. We all need to go home and be prepared for a better year next year.”

Still, Longoria helped to inspire his teammates.

“Even for a guy like myself, he’s someone I look up to just the way he goes about his business day in and day out,” said Morrison. “He would probably say this is one of the worst years he’s ever had, but yet, he’s leading the team in RBIs. I think if you ask anybody in here who you’d want up with the game on the line, you’d want him. He battles. I don’t think he’s felt great at the plate all year long, but to be able to put the numbers he has up, it’s pretty impressive. It just goes to show that he’s a baseball

Miller throws out Hays in the 3rd./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Miller throws out Hays in the 3rd./ANDREW J. KRAMER

player. I don’t know how else to describe him. It doesn’t matter what is hurting, he’s going to play, and he’s probably going to do some damage. I’m definitely glad I got to play with him for two years.”

Cash said that caution was one of the reasons he pulled Odorizzi from the game.

“I felt a little bit of soreness going out there for the 5th inning,” Odorizzi said. “I felt it a little bit on the pitch to Davis and sat for a while. I tried to stay loose. I think I could have pitched through it in different circumstances, but I just wanted to be smart about it. We aren’t playing for anything right now, which is unfortunate, but I think in other circumstances I would have been able to push through it. I wanted to be smart and let everyone know that it’s all right.”

Odorizzi was pleased with the way he finished the season.

“A lot better than the way I started,” Odorizzi said. “The past 5-6 starts were probably the best I’ve thrown the ball maybe in my career here. Hick has told me that these last couple of starts. I’m feeling good. Everything was healthy going into. I just didn’t want to spoil it by going out and pushing myself for something that could have been a lingering issue. Who knows what would have happened. I’m very happy with the way

Cash watched his offense score seven./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Cash watched his offense score seven./ANDREW J. KRAMER

I’ve finished throwing the way I’m capable of and going into the offseason with confidence.”

Orioles' manger Buck Showalter praised the Rays' bullpen.

“I’m going to give them credit,” Showalter said. “They pitched well. We’re not swinging the bats very well. It’s been obvious for a while here. It’s that time of year, September, where we get a lot of different looks. Cishek was a great pickup for them. Boxberger is coming off an injury and he’s a quality pitcher. Stanek, I can see why they like him, he’s got a big arm. And Kittredge has done well since he’s been up here. It’s just a lot of different looks. It’s inning to inning. It’s not like you get a feel for somebody. Usually somebody has to pitch long-relief when it’s not September, but that’s not the case.”

Cash was pleased with the way the Rays' have played since being eliminated.

“They have pride,” Cash said. “That has never been questioned. Their effort has never been questioned throughout this year. We’ve had plenty of rough patches, more than we’d like to have, but the effort level of these guys is something that you can hang your hat on and be proud about.”

The teams play in their next-to-last game tonight at the Trop. Chris Archer pitches for the Rays against Miguel Castro in a 6:10 p.m. start.

Robertson takes a throw for a force-out in the third./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Robertson fields a ground ball for an out in the third./ANDREW J. KRAMER



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