Longoria leads Rays by playing through pain
CLEVELAND -- Evan Longoria has been playing in pain.
The left wrist of the Rays' slugger has been hurting for some time now, and that's impacted his power numbers. But Longoria managed to connect when the Rays needed it on Saturday night to lead Tampa Bay to a 4-1 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
"Big night for Evan to get us on the board," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Three-run homer in the first against a very, very good pitcher. Gives us a little separation there. It was nice."
Heading into Saturday night's contest, Longoria had hit just two home runs in his previous 37 games. That put him on pace for a career-low 14 home runs.
"I always say, we all deal with stuff," Longoria said. "The only thing I haven't been able to do, that I normally do, is hit more. Just having to limit my swings has been the only thing.
"[The injury has] taken me out of my routine a little bit. But once I get into the game, I feel okay. Tonight I felt good."
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber got into some trouble in the first when he walked Kevin Kiermaier to start the game. Joey Butler then singled to right to bring Longoria to the plate.
After falling behind 0-2, Longoria worked the count to 2-2. That's when he ran into a 95-mph fastball and planted the pitch into the left-field stands.
Kluber is "tough," Longoria said. "His ball moves all over the place. I was trying to swing early. The first two pitches I was over swinging and I spread out and shortened up. I was just trying to put the ball in play. I was just trying to see the ball and put it into play. It was a two-seamer. I think he was trying to go in and he just kind of left it in the middle of the plate and up."
Longoria's seventh home run of the season staked the Rays to a 3-0 lead, putting the team well on its way to its fourth-consecutive win.