Tag:Evan Longoria
Posted on: October 23, 2008 2:50 am
 

Longoria says Game 2 "must-win" for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Just one game down in this World Series, but make no mistake, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria isn't messing around.

Shortly after Philadelphia beat the Rays 3-2 in Game 1, Longoria called Game 2 a "must-win" situation for his team.

"It's obvious, in my opinion, that this is a must-win game for us," Longoria said.

He added: "Not to put any added pressure on myself or the rest of the guys, but we've got to come to the ballpark and throw it all out there."

The Rays are very comfortable with "Big Game" James Shields set to start Thursday night against Philadelphia's Brett Myers, and again with Matt Garza, the hottest postseason pitcher this side of Cole Hamels, slated to start Game 3 against Jamie Moyer.

"This guy, as a team, is the guy we probably want on the hill," Longoria said. "With him and Garza, we've got a chance to win two in a row."

Like nearly every one of his teammates, Longoria did not think the World Series hoopla affected the Rays.

"I thought, actually, the vibe and the feeling in the clubhouse was more relaxed than in the ALCS," he said of the Rays' recently completed win over Boston. "That's just my thought.

"We played a very good baseball game overall. They just had one more opportunity and cashed in on it."

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 22, 2008 1:52 pm
 

And away we go

ST. PETERSBURG -- You're going to hear a lot over these next seven-to-10 days about how the Philadelphia Phillies have an "American League-style lineup."

What that means is that they have the ability to put a lot of runs on the board in a hurry. They're deep and they're powerful. They've got speed and power atop the lineup in Jimmy Rollins. They've got a rugged middle of the lineup with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell.

But here's my question: If the Phillies' lineup is so AL-oriented, then why did they go 4-11 in Interleague Play this season? In five series against AL teams, they didn't win one.

Two of the five AL teams they faced qualified for postseason -- Boston (against whom the Phillies were 1-2) and the Los Angeles Angels (0-3). Three were not -- Oakland (1-2), Texas (1-2) and Toronto (1-2).

This isn't a knock on the Phillies, who are playing their best baseball of the season and easily could win this series if they keep it up. It is an indictment of the NL, which simply still isn't as strong as the AL.

Tampa Bay has an AL-style lineup, too. And center fielder B.J. Upton and third baseman Evan Longoria have combined to wallop 13 home runs and collect 26 RBI so far this postseason.

It's no wonder, then, that one of the main points of the report turned in by Philadelphia scouts for the Phillies to digest going into this World Series is that the pitching staff must keep the ball in the ballpark against Rays hitters. The Phillies think they can be successful if their pitchers stay away from predictable pitch selection patterns, which would keep Longoria, Upton, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and the rest of the Tampa Bay hitters off-balance.

If Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Co. can establish themselves, it's the Phillies who could win this series with the long ball. They ranked second in the majors in homers, trailing only the Chicago White Sox.

The keys to this series, for me, are these:

-- Game 1. Philadelphia has not played a game in a week. Similar layoffs did no favors for Colorado (eight days) in last year's World Series or Detroit (six days) in 2006. If the Phillies' hitters have their timing Wednesday night, that will be a terrific sign for them. If they look lost against Scott Kazmir, it could be a sign of rust, and it could be a scramble for Philadelphia to turn it around.

-- The bullpens. With complete games having gone the way of the stock market, so many postseason games turn now somewhere between the sixth and eighth innings. We know Philadelphia is air-tight late with Ryan Madson (who handles the eighth innings) and closer Brad Lidge. The wild card is Tampa Bay phenom David Price. The Phillies saw what the rest of us saw in the ALCS: Rays relievers Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell are beginning to show wear and tear. That could leave Tampa Bay vulnerable -- or it could leave an effective Price as a breakout star.

-- Jamie Moyer. Philadelphia's Game 3 starter has gotten clobbered in the postseason. In two games, against Milwaukee and the Dodgers, he's served up eight runs and 10 hits in only 5 1/3 innings. He didn't make it out of the second in his NLCS start in Los Angeles. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel says he never considered not starting Moyer in the World Series, and the soft-tossing lefty is not a charity case: He led Philadelphia's staff during the season with 16 wins. But finesse pitchers are exceptionally risky in the postseason. There are no easy outs, and if a guy's touch is off even by a little bit ... look out.

There will be a harsh glare on Tampa Bay's kids, but they've responded to every challenge this season and I think they will respond again. None of the past four World Series has lasted longer than five games, and three of them have been sweeps.

I think this goes a bit longer, and I think the AL superiority again will be evident.

Tampa Bay in 6.

 

Posted on: August 13, 2008 11:52 pm
 

Carl Crawford: See you in October?

No need to wait until season's end. We've already got a winner in the Most Unfair Moment of the Season.

It'll happen Thursday, when Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford undergoes hand surgery that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season.

How about that one?

Guy plays his guts out year after year for teams that, if they weren't going to lose 100 games, they sure were going to give it a try.

He's a two-time All-Star, a four-time AL stolen base champion, an all-around good guy.

And now, just when things are finally starting to get good in Tampa Bay, Crawford must leave?

You know what I think of when I think of Crawford? This spring, making the rounds from camp to camp, I was talking with the Angels' Torii Hunter when the subject turned to players who are pleasures to watch.

"Know who I really like to watch?" Hunter asked.

"Who?"

"Carl Crawford, because he plays all-out all the time."

"Do you know him pretty well?"

The answer came back quickly: No. Not at all.

That really registered. To me, that's one of the highest compliments a guy could ever offer. Many players around the league will say good things about their friends.

But for a player to volunteer how much he enjoys watching another guy play … and he doesn't even know that guy? That's as pure as it gets.

I don't know whether the Rays will hang onto their AL East lead, but I do know this: These next three or so weeks are as crucial as any three-week stretch in franchise history.

Because not only is Crawford out, but the Rays have placed rookie smash Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured bone in his wrist.

The Rays think Longoria can return to the lineup by Sept. 1 -- thus, my three-week assessment. But if Longoria is out longer, the Rays' task only gets more difficult.

As Rays manager Joe Maddon said earlier this year, "We're not just trying to be a member of the standings. We're trying to be at the top."

For Crawford's sake, after the season they've put together, the Rays deserve to be there. That way, Crawford can re-join them for some October fun.

Likes: Six weeks left, and five of the six divisions remain up for grabs (I'm taking a wild leap here and awarding the AL West to the Angels). It's dizzying attempting to keep up with who's in first in the AL Central. Minnesota and the White Sox have traded places for five consecutive days. … San Diego reliever Heath Bell's T-shirt: "I'm in Shape … Round is a Shape." … Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, ejected again during Wednesday's doubleheader with the Cubs. … Milwaukee's starting pitching. CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets back-to-back in the rotation? The Brewers get to the playoffs, it's not going to be any fun for opposing hitters in a short series. … My new laptop. The old one was so virus-ridden after five years it was like trying to run through quicksand. It's been forever since I've updated Bull Pennings, partly because I took a week off following the All-Star Game and partly because the old computer had become nearly unworkable. … Kid Rock's All Summer Long. Never thought I'd be saying this about Kid Rock, but what a great, great tune.

Dislikes: Foreclosures and gas prices dominating the newspapers each morning.

Rock-N-Roll Lyric of the Day:


"Splashing through the sand bar
"Talking by the campfire
"It's the simple things in life, like when and where
"We didn't have no internet
"But man I never will forget
"The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long

Posted on: April 16, 2008 2:23 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2008 2:53 pm
 

Tulowitzki, Big Papi and the Lonesome Pine

Troy Tulowitzki was back in Colorado's lineup Tuesday night, which shouldn't exactly be a big deal, except for the fact that, with Tulo scuffling early this season, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle was moved to pull the plug on him Sunday.

Yep, while Boston manager Terry Francona gave slumping slugger David Ortiz a mental day off, on the other side of the country (but away from the media glare), Hurdle did the same with Tulowitzki. And nope, Hurdle and Francona didn't exactly come up with the idea while jointly attending a meeting of Slumping Team Leaders Anonymous.

"Good minds think alike," Hurdle quips. "We did not text. We did not call.

"I found it humorous that we go somewhere and someone asked me about Ortiz."

Good thing Hurdle can laugh at the situation, given Tulowitzki's .149 start and two errors. And good thing Tulowitzki has friends in the clubhouse who can help pick him up during the tough times.

Why, before Tuesday's game in San Diego, several Rockies were watching San Francisco play Arizona on the clubhouse televisions as the Giants' John Bowker rapped out two more hits, leaving him at a cool .600 (6-for-10) with seven RBI in his first three major-league games.

"You're down to the fourth-best player from Long Beach," Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins teased Tulowitzki, who played his college ball -- like Bowker, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and Oakland's Bobby Crosby -- at Cal State Long Beach.

They tease because they care, of course -- and also because they know Tulowitzki is too good to remain down-and-out. He emerged as the Rockies team leader as a rookie last summer, dazzled with the glove, hit 24 homers, finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, drew comparisons to Cal Ripken Jr. and pretty much set himself up to win several Gold Glove awards.

"He's done a lot of good things," Hurdle says. "He's been a good story from that standpoint. I think sometimes things are overplayed and sometimes things are underplayed.

"When all is said and done, he'll get other days off. He'll be hitting, and it won't be a story."

Tulowitzki is only 23, yet he signed a six-year, $31 million deal that will keep him in Colorado through at least 2013. A year ago, Tulowitzki became the second-youngest opening day starter in Rockies franchise history. Amazing (and utterly impressive) that a year later, it's a monumental event when he's ragged enough that he's out of the lineup.

"A lot of people have affection for the way he plays the game and swings the bat," Hurdle says. "I don't think of it as anything more than a day off."

In a perfect world, Hurdle says, Tulowitzki would play roughly 150 games a season -- which, gasp, would mean taking 12 games off.

"You'd set it up for 150, and he'd probably play in 155 without injuries," Hurdle says. "He's pretty good at playing through things, too. He's got a hockey mentality. He doesn't have to be 100 percent to take the field.

"Guys who are willing to play hurt, it's hard to take them out of the lineup when they're healthy."

Tulowitzki went 0-for-3 with a walk in Tuesday night's 6-0 loss in San Diego. Chances are he'll regain his stroke soon, and his next day off will be later rather than sooner.

And no disrespect to Bowker, whose start in San Francisco has been nothing short of amazing, and nothing against Atkins' sense of humor, which is sharp ... but in the Cal State Long Beach rankings, even a slumping Tulowitzki isn't No. 4.

Likes: The frequent use of the No. 42 by so many players on Tuesday night as baseball celebrated the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Suggestion for Commissioner Bud Selig: How about simply having every player, manager and coach wear the No. 42 every April 15 beginning next year? Robinson remains one of the game's proudest moments, a time when baseball was out in front of society as a whole in righting a longtime wrong and awarding rights to African-Americans that they should have had years earlier. Baseball should continue to trumpet the day and make everyone aware of Jackie Robinson and his everlasting meaning. ... San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler writing that "Alex Rodriguez makes $28 million this season, while the entire Marlins' payroll is $21.8 million. What's worse, I hear A-Rod hit on all their wives." ... Steve Poltz's Traveling disc. He's the guy who wrote the smash Jewel hit You Were Meant For Me, and he's a terrific lyricist with a knack for writing catchy tunes. Check him out at www.Poltz.com.

Dislikes: Tax day. Ugh. ... The end of spring break for the schoolkids. ... Erik Bedard on the 15-day disabled list so soon. ... Cleveland closer Joe Borowski, too. ... The persistent chill in the Midwest and East. I was cold just watching games from Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City on television the past several days.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When they borrow your money they won't pay back
"They been borrowin' from me all way, in fact
"Now they been borrowin', boy, all of my life
"I believe one day they gonna borrow my wife"

-- Champion Jack Dupree, My Next Door Neighbor

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com