Longo, Jennings back Price with terrific grabs
Third baseman, center fielder turn in highlight-reel plays in victory
ST. PETERSBURG -- David Price had his A-game in the Rays' 5-1 win over the Pirates at Tropicana Field on Wednesday afternoon. His defenders also had his back. Of particular note were the contributions made in the field by Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings.
Longoria has won two Gold Glove Awards, and he put his defensive abilities on display during the third inning. With two outs and Tampa Bay holding a 3-0 lead, Gregory Polanco hit a foul pop fly down the left-field line. The ball headed toward the Pirates' bullpen, and Longoria gave chase.
After running approximately 100 feet, Longoria appeared to be on a crash course with the wall. But at the last instant, the third baseman flipped out his glove and hauled in the ball. Longoria then managed to get both hands on the wall, push down, lift his legs and safely vault into the stands.
"He knew exactly where he was at," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Spectacular catch, and then the ability to jump over the wall. I thought that was spectacular."
Longoria then headed back to the dugout with the third out tucked away in his glove.
"Not really much to talk about," Longoria said. "I just tried to get a good jump on the ball. It's an easier catch at home, because you're familiar with the field and you know how much room you have. Of the defensive struggles that I've had this year, a couple of them have come more frequently with David on the mound. I try to make every play for him when I can, and just try to stay under control. Luckily, I made the catch and didn't hurt myself."
Jennings' heroics took place in the seventh inning, also with two outs. Neil Walker hit a ball to deep center field that appeared as if it would clear the bases. The speedy center fielder took off running with his back to home plate, caught up to the ball and made a backhanded catch before running into the wall.
"Great route," Maddon said. "Just a great route on that ball. It was one of those things you could see from the dugout when the ball is hit whether it can be caught or not. When that ball was hit, you knew it could be caught and you had the right guy out there."
Price watched the scene unfold and held his arms up afterward to salute his teammate.
"The way Dave pitched today, you have to try and make all the plays for him," Jennings said. "He goes out and pitches like that, which he normally does, you just want to go out and do your job."