ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays slugger Evan Longoria stood on second base bending and flexing and stretching his left leg, his strained quadriceps obviously still causing some discomfort. So be it. Pain or no pain, Longoria is feeling pretty good after he rediscovered his stroke in the Rays' series-tying Game 4 win over the Texas Rangers.
The third baseman, clean-up hitter and heart-and-soul of the Rays' lineup crushed a double in the fourth inning, a home run in the fifth and had another two-bagger in the eighth. Coming into Game 4, Longoria was batting .083.
"Part of his problems I thought was that he was chasing pitches and [Sunday] he he got some pitches to hit and he did not miss them," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's where Longo has to be. He's got to be on his pitch, be ready. What he does sometimes is he really wants to move the ball around in RBI situations and maybe sometimes gives a pitcher an advantage. But, when's he's patient, he's very dangerous."
Longoria said playing a day game Sunday, followed by an off-day and then a night game on Tuesday will help him recover and feel fresher for Game 5 even though he's clearly not 100 percent healthy.
He will hope to keep his hot bat going against Rangers ace Cliff Lee, who struck out 10 in Game and has been masterful against Longoria in his young career. The right-handed hitter is in his third big-league season and has just three hits in 18 regular-season at-bats against Lee with four strikeouts. He went hitless against Lee in Game 1.
"We've had decent success against him. Obviously, not as of late, but throughout the course of the year we've had some good battles against him," said Longoria, whose Rays were 3-0 against Lee this season, including two wins when Lee was with the Seattle Mariners. "That's something that we need to look to back to regain that confidence in going up against a guy like Cliff."