Evan Longoria keeps putting his name throughout the Rays record books.
Tonight, he do so in two ways, becoming the all time leading Runs leader (passing Carl Crawford) and hitting for just the 2nd Cycle in Rays franchise history (joining Bossman Junior).
Longo lead the way for a big team win bringing this 4 game stretch against the Astros to 1-1.
Longo’s Wild Ride
Longoria got the Rays on the board early, jumping off of Astros starter Mike Fiers for a 1st inning 2-run bomb. Not to be outdone in 2017, LoMo went back-to-back for his club leading 27th HR.
The Tampa Bay bats pushed that to a 5-0 lead in the 3rd, with a Longo RBI triple and a Adieny Hechavarria base hit. The 3B was a bit of an adventure (and perhaps a little generous from the Houston scorekeeper), as Josh Reddick seemed to lose track of the ball in the corner.
Mike Fiers was not pitching well tonight. There were hard hits, long innings, and runners on base galore. The fact the Rays tagged him for 5 by the 3rd was a good sign. The fact that they only tagged Fiers for 5 runs for his entire 6 inning appearance? Not so great.
The Rays had their chances, but a few double plays ended rallies early. Just another reminder how a Strikeout isn’t the worst outcome to an at-bat.
Archer somewhat on his mark
Chris Archer pitched a weird game. He was cruising, seemingly fairly comfortable early, giving up just one single through his first 4 innings. And yet, deep counts, few Ks, and some loud fly balls showcased a perhaps not so dominating performance.
One of those loud outs was from Alex Bregman. He took Archer deep to center, where Peter Bourjos roamed. Bourjos was a late add to the game after Souza couldn’t go with his sore foot. Thankfully, Boujos’ Boujit over as fast as he could to make a spectacular catch.
Archer was unable to keep the Stros off the board forever, giving up solo HRs to Carlos Beltran and Bregman in the 5th. Still, not super sharp Chris Archer is still a tough pitcher even for a very deep Astros lineup.
Archer would get the call to toe the rubber in the 7th, despite going over 100 pitches in the 6th and not having his very best stuff. Immediately that decision would be called into question, as Marwin Gonzalez drove a ball to the LF wall, just out of reach from Corey Dickerson.
Archer would stay in to face Beltran, who quickly drove a single up the middle to bring the Astros within 3 runs. On to the bullpen!
Old and New
First out of the pen came Steve Cishek and his repertoire of bendy stuff. Unfortunately, Evan Gattis immediately smashed a double, putting the Rays quickly into a precarious spot.
A weak groundout from Bregman was hit far too poorly and became a defacto RBI sacrifice. Cishek got Jake Marisnick to pop up weakly and shallow, keeping the Oso Blanco, Gattis, at 3rd.
With lefty Derek Fisher up next, Cash called upon the newest (and only) lefty in the pen: Dan Jennings. Jennings faced one hitter, and his command failed him, walking the young slugger on 5 pitches.
Onward to the 4th pitcher of the inning: Tommy Hunter. Hunter came in and had the tall task to get Jose Altuve and preserve the narrow lead. Tommy Two Towelz (this nickname will stick) got Altuve to ground out weakly to a charging Hech, making a tough but slick pick and throw to escape the inning.
9th Inning Drama
For once, the drama wasn’t about the bullpen or Colome! In the bottom half, Colome worked quick and clean, recording his 31st save.
No, the real drama came in the top half with the Rays Captain trying to both chase Rays history and give the team an insurance run.
With 2 outs, needing a double for the second Cycle in Rays history, Evan Longoria connected on a sharp liner to left. It didn’t reach the wall, and seemed destined to be a long single for Longo.
But wait! What’s that? Is that Longo burning around 1st base?
Longo hustled but it seemed he was just a step too short at first glance. Thankfully, replays exist now, and the super slow-mo showed Longoria had just enough pep in that step to get his hand in under the tag.
Longo safe at 2nd!
Rays games with a bit of fun have been a bit too rare lately. Time to get back to the winning ways and the fun.