Let's look back at Evan Longoria's best moments as a Tampa Bay Ray
The Rays took Evan Longoria third overall in the 2006 Draft -- and in the 11 years since he's become the face of the franchise.
He made his Major League debut in 2008 ... not coincidentally, the same year that Tampa made its first postseason (and World Series) appearance in franchise history. He owns just about every team record a position player can own. But, as of Wednesday, he officially has a new home: The Rays traded Longoria to the Giants for infielder Christian Arroyo -- San Francisco's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- Denard Span and two other Minor Leaguers.
It's going to take a while to adjust to the sight of Longoria in a different uniform. Before we get to that, though, let's take a moment to celebrate the end of an era. We've assembled some of Longo's very finest moments in Tampa below -- so sit back, turn the volume up and if there are any we missed, let us know in the comments.
The first career dinger
It didn't take long for Longoria to announce himself as a player to watch. In just his third career game, he launched his first career homer -- to tie the game in the seventh inning against the rival Yankees:
As any Yankees fan will tell you, it was a sign of things to come. Longoria's been great against everybody, but he's absolutely killed New York: In 168 career games against the Bombers, the third baseman has slashed .273/.347/.494 with 35 homers -- including two pretty big ones, which we'll get to in a moment.
Bringing October baseball to Tampa
When Longoria debuted with the Rays in 2008, the team had never been the postseason in its 10 years of existence. A few months and one AL Rookie of the Year campaign later, that streak was over -- and naturally it was Longoria who recorded the AL East-clinching out:
The 2008 ALCS
Tampa's run to the AL East crown was a nice story, but they were still solid underdogs against the Red Sox -- especially after Boston took Game 1 in Tampa and jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in Game 2. But then Longoria turned the tide:
That two-run homer off of Josh Beckett -- the first of three Longoria would hit in the series -- tied the game and picked the Rays up off the mat. They went on to win Game 2, 9-8, and won the series in seven.
The sterling defense
Of course, Longoria's game is about much more than dingers. He's also taken home three Gold Glove Awards, and it's not hard to see why:
The three-homer game
Heading into the final day of the 2012 season, the Orioles were hoping to force a tie atop the AL East with a win in Tampa. Longoria, however, had other ideas:
The triple play
Oh, and in addition to all of that other history he had a hand in, Longoria also started just the third triple play in Rays history:
It was quite possibly the most bonkers night in baseball history. The Rays entered the final day of the 2011 season tied with the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card spot. Boston was in Baltimore to play the last-place Orioles, while Tampa faced the Yankees at the Trop.
For a while, it seemed like we were in for a drama-free finish: The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead to the bottom of the ninth at Camden Yards; the Rays found themselves down, 7-0, entering the bottom of the eighth. What could go wrong, right?
Longoria's three-run homer in the eighth got Tampa back in it, and just minutes after Robert Andino completed an improbable comeback for the O's, Longoria hit a walk-off dinger in the 12th to put the Rays in the postseason.