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Counting Down the Greatest Tampa Bay Rays Games in History by WPA (Part 3)

Coming in at number 2: Evan Longoria Heroics

San Diego Padres v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

It’s been a while since the Rays had a walk-off home run and I can’t stop thinking about it. Every morning following a Rays game, I take a marker and chalk a line on the wall counting the days since the Rays had one of those glorious game ending shots.

If anyone asks why our walls are all marked up my wife and I look at our two year old daughter accusingly.

(My daughter and I have an understanding about this: she takes the heat, I indulge her insatiable appetite for Curious George, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First).

But this article isn’t about that walk-off home run drought. In fact I won’t even mention that it’s lasted 819 820 days.

Today I’m writing about a walk-off home run that gave the Rays a win and Longoria the second highest WPA in Rays history.

#2 – Evan Longoria is Amazing at Everything

May 11th, 2013 against the San Diego Padres

WPA - .876

You would think that I was referring to Game 162 as one of the top performances in team history. After all, Longoria had two home runs that game, one making it a one run game and the other ending it. According to Baseball Reference, Evan Longoria added just a .500 WPA to that game. However, against San Diego, Longoria would turn in the best performance of his career (in terms of WPA).

This game started off on a sour note for the Rays as Jeremy Hellickson allowed two first inning runs on a home run from Chase Headley.

However, the Rays answered back in a big way in the bottom of the second against current Ray Burch Smith who was making his major league debut, as they put up six runs and actually batted around in the inning. Longoria drew a walk to start it off, and struck out for the second out of the inning.

The next few innings went by quietly, but in the seventh, with Jeremy Hellickson fighting to get through another inning, the Padres came back in grand fashion. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jesus Guzman pinch hit for John Baker.

Guzman proceeded to work a full count, because of course he did, and with the next pitch from Hellickson, Guzman belted it a low way down the left field line for a game tying grand slam. The Friars weren’t done yet. hJamey Wright replaced Hellickson and managed to give up the lead without allowing a hit: error, hit batsman, and back-to-back walks.

Things looked bleak for the Rays as they went down in order in the seventh and eighth, and the first two batters in the ninth went out harmlessly as well, with Houston Street closing for San Diego.

The Rays were down to their final out and Ben Zobrist was their last hope of staying alive. He immediately fell into a 1-2 count, but worked his way back to make it full. On the seventh pitch, Zobrist walked to bring up Evan Longoria.

Longoria hadn’t done much on the day other than his second inning walk. He quickly got ahead in the count 2-1, and on Street’s next offering, Longoria sent the ball soaring into deep left-center field. The outfielders gave chase, but it was for naught as the ball landed in the Captain Morgan Party Deck for a walk-off two run home run. The Rays win probability went from 9% to 100% on one swing of the bat.