Forget striking out or grounding into double plays;Evan Longoria is hitting. Two singles, two doubles, two home runs and an OPS of 1.429. Small sample size? Sure, but what a wonderful sample it is. Evan Longoria has picked up right where he left off last season and that is a very good sign. This offseason I was asked quite often if we could expect a "sophomore slump" from Longoria and every time I quickly replied with "no, he's just that good." Luckily for me and the rest of us, Longoria is making me look very smart early on.
Longoria started the series with a two RBI single in game one, but unfortunately it was only one of the three Rays hits and wasn't enough. Yesterday, Longoria doubled off Jon Lester and homered of Takashi Saito. In today's game, Longo added another single, double and home run all of Daisuke Matsuzaka to his early season totals. All in all he ended the first series of the season 6-13 and #1 in our hearts.
If you remember way back when, the Rays sent Evan Longoria down to Durham to work on hitting the breaking ball. Even after his call up last season we saw the unanimous rookie of the year struggle with the bendy pitches. So far this season, Evan is thriving off of them. The home run today came off of a hanging slider that never broke and Longoria lifted it into the air in left field. The single of Matsuzaka came off of a low and away slider which is a pitch he really struggled with in 2008. Also, the Saito home run was off a slider that was middle away. Bendy things no long scare Evan.
Once again, Longoria is showing his power to left field. Bill James told us that 22 of Longoria's 43 flyballs to left field in 2008 went for home runs. Well so far that trend is holding steady. All four of Longo's extra base hits have gone to leftfield with his singles going to right and right center. R.J. mentioned this earlier, but maybe teams might want to consider a reverse Carlos Pena shift on Longoria, but then again let's hope they don't.
Photo By Dennis Adair