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Game 162 leads Rays' Top 10 HRs of 2010s

@juanctoribio
December 26, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pitching and defense have carried the Rays over the last decade, but the club also has a knack for coming up clutch and delivering with a big hit. Over the decade, the Rays hit a combined 1,767 home runs, including a franchise-record 228 dingers in 2017. While

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pitching and defense have carried the Rays over the last decade, but the club also has a knack for coming up clutch and delivering with a big hit.

Over the decade, the Rays hit a combined 1,767 home runs, including a franchise-record 228 dingers in 2017. While the Rays launched plenty of long balls, some of them carried more weight than others in a decade that produced many exciting moments in Tampa Bay.

As the 2010s come to an end, let’s take a look at the Rays’ top 10 homers from the last 10 years.

1. Longoria sends Rays to the postseason
Sept. 28, 2011

Evan Longoria is the most accomplished player in franchise history, so it’s only fitting that he had the most memorable moment of the decade. Game 162 won’t be topped any time soon, and Longoria’s 12th-inning home run to beat the Yankees and send the Rays to the postseason is the image that many people will carry for a long time.

2. Down to their last strike
Sept. 28, 2011

While Longoria’s game-winning blast is what ultimately defined Game 162, the moment wouldn’t have happened without Dan Johnson’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth. With the Rays down 7-6, Johnson -- known for his clutch performances -- hit a long ball down the right-field line to tie the game. Tropicana Field erupted, setting the stage for Longoria’s walk-off.

3. Walk it off
Oct. 7, 2013

Jose Lobaton hit 21 career homers over his nine-year career, but none was bigger than his walk-off blast in Game 3 of the 2013 American League Division Series against the Red Sox. With the season on the line, Lobaton hit a solo home run off Koji Uehara that decided the contest and extended the series to a Game 4.

4. Kiermaier gets it started
Oct. 7, 2019

After dropping the first two games of the 2019 ALDS to Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and the Astros, the Rays hoped their offense would come to life at Tropicana Field against Zack Greinke. Kevin Kiermaier was up to the task, hitting a critical three-run homer to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead in the second inning. The Rays went on to outscore the Astros, 14-4, in their two home games before losing Game 5 at Minute Maid Park.

5. Game 161
Sept. 27, 2011

The heroics in Game 162 get all the headlines, and deservingly so, but Matt Joyce provided the Rays with a memorable moment the night before against the Yankees. With the Rays trailing 3-2 in the seventh, Joyce crushed a three-run homer to carry Tampa Bay to a 5-3 win over New York.

6. Leading off
Oct. 2, 2019

Yandy Díaz missed nearly three months with a foot injury, but he returned just in time for the regular-season finale against the Blue Jays. Rays manager Kevin Cash included Díaz, who only had one game under his belt, on the active roster in the AL Wild Card Game and felt confident enough to put him atop the order against A’s lefty starter Sean Manaea. It didn’t take Díaz long to prove Cash right as the third baseman launched a leadoff homer, leading Tampa Bay to a 5-1 win over Oakland.

7. García sets record
May 14, 2019

The Rays signed Avisaíl García because of his power against left-handed pitching, and he demonstrated it in 2019 against the Marlins. García launched a 471-foot home run off Miami starter Caleb Smith that cleared the batter’s eye in center field by a significant amount. His big blast was the longest homer hit by a Rays player since Statcast began tracking in ‘15.

8. First-place Rays
Sept. 13, 2010

The battle between the Yankees and Rays for first place in the AL East was going down to the wire, making every head-to-head matchup even more important. In the 11th inning of a scoreless game, Reid Brignac became a hero, hitting a walk-off homer off Yanks reliever Sergio Mitre. The win helped the Rays move into the top spot as they secured their only division title of the decade.

9. d’Arnaud makes history
Jul. 15, 2019

Travis d'Arnaud had one of the best single-game performances by a catcher in Major League history, and he capped it off in style. d’Arnaud launched a go-ahead, two-run homer off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to give the Rays a 5-4 lead. More impressively, it was d’Arnaud’s third homer of the game, marking the first time a catcher hit three homers out of the leadoff spot and making d’Arnaud the first catcher to hit that many homers in a single game against the Yankees.

10. New home run record
Sept. 23, 2017

Lucas Duda blasted a three-run home run off Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson to lead the Rays to a 9-6 win, setting a new single-season club record in the process. Duda’s home run was No. 217 on the year by Tampa Bay, which finished the year with 228, a record that still stands.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.