As sweet as it was, hitting a go-ahead home run against Kansas City hardly erases Evan Longoria‘s disappointment over missing the All-Star game with a sore finger.
“It’s a good feeling, obviously,” Longoria said after helping Tampa Bay rally past the Royals 8-7 Friday night. “But if you get an opportunity to start in the All-Star game, it’s a pretty big disappointment to miss it.”
Tampa Bay’s third baseman was voted to start for the American League in St. Louis on Tuesday night but decided his aching right ring finger would just not let him perform at his best.
But three days later, the finger feels fine and he’s right back to All-Star form.
“It was really disappointing not to play in the All-Star game,” he said. “The guys I talked to who were on the team expressed their emotions for me, and that was a good feeling to know they were behind me. I told them, ‘I would love to play in the game but I wouldn’t be able to help with this bum finger.”‘
Now it’s the Royals who are feeling bummed. After a five-run third inning off James Shields, they held a 6-2 lead.
But Pat Burrell‘s two-run homer off Jamey Wright shaved the lead to 7-6 in the seventh and Longoria hit Juan Cruz‘s 3-2 offering for another two-run shot in the eighth. Burrell and Longoria also had RBI singles as the Rays put together a nice start to their 10-game road trip.
“We made it easier on them with the two unearned runs and leaving balls right down Broadway with dangerous hitters up,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Obviously, you can’t do that. There were six runs on their side that shouldn’t have been on the board.”
Longoria said he was just trying to hit a line drive up the middle against the hard-throwing Cruz (3-3).
“I got to 3-2 and I was just looking fastball and he so happens to leave a changeup in the middle of the plate,” he said.
Joe Nelson (3-0) pitched one inning for the win and J.P. Howell worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.
Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen drove in three runs apiece for the Royals. Teahen hit a two-run single off Shields in the third before Jacobs connected for a three-run shot.
Yuniesky Betancourt, acquired in a trade with Seattle last Friday, had two hits in his debut as the Royals‘ shortstop. David DeJesus went 3 for 5 and scored twice.
It was not a good night defensively for Betancourt and third baseman Alex Gordon, the new left side of the infield for the Royals. Gordon, making his first start since undergoing hip surgery in April, dropped Dioner Navarro‘s popup in the fourth. Navarro eventually came around to score when Longoria grounded a ball through Betancourt on what was ruled an RBI single because his view of the ball may have been obscured by the runner.
Carl Crawford, who was the MVP of the All-Star game, then scored on a passed ball for Tampa Bay’s second unearned run of the inning, cutting it to 6-4.
“I really believe our guys are motivated to get this thing done and to come back like that was really a pretty big moment,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It is a great way to start the second half.”
Crawford also had an RBI single in the third, stole his major league-leading 45th base and scored on Burrell’s single.
“I know they have some really good people in their bullpen,” Maddon said. “But we had good at-bats.”
Kansas City slugger Jose Guillen, late getting back from the Dominican Republic because of his son’s illness, pinch hit in the ninth and struck out to end the game.
Brian Bannister gave up four runs, two earned, and seven hits in five innings for Kansas City.
Shields allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
The Rays reinstated RHP Grant Balfour from the bereavement list and optioned C John Jaso to Triple-A Durham. … Maddon received his 2008 AL manager of the year award from the Negro Leagues Museum and toured the facility on Friday. … The Royals are 19-41 since starting the season 18-11.