Found August 08, 2012 on
Fox Sports Florida:
While the Tampa Bay Rays managed to stay relevant during Evan Longoria's absence, they look all the more like contenders with him in the lineup.
The Rays try for an eighth win in nine meetings with the Toronto Blue Jays as these AL East rivals continue a three-game set Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
After failing to score in each of its previous two games, Tampa Bay (57-52) took Tuesday's series opener 4-1. James Shields threw eight strong innings while Longoria - playing his first game since April 30 - went 1 for 3 with an RBI. The three-time All-Star third baseman missed 85 games with a partially torn left hamstring.
"It's weird going into a game just trying to make it out healthy," he said. "Sometimes it's little things that are important, and today was huge stepping stone. There was nothing about today that was negative. No setbacks, I felt great."
Tampa Bay went 41-44 during Longoria's absence but has won nine of its last 10 when he plays. Longoria is batting .329 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 24 games.
"I'm just as happy as anyone else that Longo is back," Shields said. "Just to see him back in the clubhouse and see him out on the field. He's the leader in this clubhouse, that's what it comes down to."
The Rays have taken seven of their last eight meetings with the Blue Jays, outscoring Toronto 51-26.
Loser of seven of nine overall, Toronto (53-56) tries to bounce back behind Carlos Villanueva (6-1, 3.19 ERA). After winning a career-best four consecutive starts, the right-hander surrendered four runs and seven hits over six innings of a 5-3 loss at Seattle last Wednesday to suffer his first defeat of the season.
"It's very frustrating," he told MLB's official website. "I thought today I had the best fastball command I've had maybe since I started. The problem, the only problem, was my slider to lefties, the backdoor slider, I just couldn't get it down and in enough."
In his lone start versus Tampa Bay, Villanueva was tagged for a career-high eight runs and nine hits over 2 2-3 innings of a 9-1 road loss Aug. 3, 2011. He's also struggled in three relief appearances against the Rays this season, yielding seven runs in three innings. Six of those runs came during a 12-2 defeat April 18.
Villanueva can't be looking forward to facing Ben Zobrist, who's taken him deep three times in five at-bats.
The Rays will turn to Alex Cobb (5-8, 4.60), who snapped a career worst-tying three-start losing streak with an impressive display last Wednesday. The right-hander scattered four hits and struck out six over seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory at Oakland.
"That was more what he looked like in July last year when he came up and helped us out," manager Joe Maddon said of Cobb, who went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA over nine starts in 2011. "Better command of his fastball, threw some really good curveballs. Changeup had more depth."
Cobb, who has never faced Toronto, has compiled a 6.75 ERA while losing each of his last three home starts.
It's unknown if he'll have to face Brett Lawrie, who missed his third straight contest Tuesday with tightness in his rib cage. The third baseman is mired in a 3-for-21 (.143) slump.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. It was a familiar sight Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field: a crush of reporters, radio mics and TV cameras zeroing in on the man of the moment, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
The scene has been all too scarce this season for the Rays. But after missing 85 games with a left hamstring tear, Longoria was finally moved off the disabled list and...
The Tampa Bay Rays' offense has stalled. The return of third baseman Evan Longoria should help change that.
Longoria will be activated for the first time since late April in Tuesday night's series opener in St. Petersburg, where James Shields looks to build off his best start of the season with another strong outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Near the bottom of the...
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Three-time All Star Evan Longoria is set to return to Tampa Bay's lineup after being sidelined more three months with a partially torn left hamstring.
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Maybe it's the impact of having Evan Longoria back, or maybe it's only a coincidence. But since Longoria rejoined the Rays on Tuesday, they haven't lost. Longoria, who missed 85 games because of a left hamstring injury, didn't actually do much in his first two games back. But Thursday, he delivered, going 3-for-5 with two RBI, as the Rays rapped 13 hits and...
Evan Longoria came off the DL for the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, and the team is 2-0 since his return. Longoria only has one hit in the two games, a single on Tuesday, and has struck out four times in eight plate appearances. However, I'm not an idiot that's going to draw conclusions from a two game sample size. That's just absurd. But Longoria's return should...
Evan Longoria rejoined the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, playing for the first time since partially tearing his left hamstring April 30. The news for the Rays was good in what he did -- driving in a run with a sacrifice fly and singling as the designated hitter -- and in how he felt after the 4-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. "There was nothing about today that was negative...
If you’ve been holding onto Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, Evan Longoria, then you received some good news earlier this evening.
According to an AP report via Yahoo Sports, Longoria is ready to be reactivated from the disabled list tomorrow, prior to a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
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The last day of the 2011 MLB regular season was one of the more extraordinary days in the history of the game. There were multiple games played which resulted in the culmination of truly great late season surges and collapses and one of the teams involved in last season's spectacle is very much in the same position as they found themselves at this time last season. Actually,...
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3B Evan Longoria is making his return to the roster of the Tampa Bay Rays this evening, but, you have to ask if his addition will make a difference. There is no doubt that the Rays need an additional bat in the lineup based on post All-Star Game performances, but is Longoria really going to be the player which creates the tipping point for the Rays season?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The prevailing sentiment in the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse Thursday afternoon could be summed up in two words: Thank Evan.
The Rays couldnt have been more grateful that team leader Evan Longoria was finally back in the fold after missing 85 games with a torn hamstring.
You could see the difference he made in the upbeat clubhouse, on the loose and lively bench...
Since Evan Longoria returned earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Rays have started to build some momentum.
The Minnesota Twins would like nothing more than to stop it.
Tampa Bay goes for its first four-game winning streak in two months Friday night when it opens a three-game series in Minneapolis.
Back the last three games after missing 85 due to a partially torn left hamstring,...
The Tampa Bay Rays' offense has stalled. The possible return of third baseman Evan Longoria could help change that.
Longoria could make his first appearance since late April in Tuesday night's series opener in St. Petersburg, where James Shields looks to build off his best start of the season with another strong outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Near the bottom of the...
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