Evan Longoria has been with the Tampa Bay Rays for a long time. He was drafted by the Rays in 2006, made his debut in 2008, and has played with them ever since. His current contract, which is an extension to the original deal he signed in his rookie year, could keep him with the Rays until 2023.
Longoria loves the Rays, and on Tuesday night he did something for them that had only been done one other time: he hit for the cycle. In a single game against the Houston Astros, Longoria hit a single, a double, a triple and a home run.
It all started in the top of the first when Longoria delivered a two-run home run to open scoring and put the Rays on top early. In his next at-bat in the third inning, Longoria got the hardest type of hit out of the way when he stroked a triple. After popping out in the fifth, he singled in the seventh. Three down, one to go.
In the top of the ninth the Rays were up 6-4, but Longoria was a double short of the cycle. He came to the plate with two outs and the bases clear. Facing Houston’s flame-throwing closer Ken Giles, Longoria smacked a ball to the left field corner and took off at a dead sprint. The ball was snagged quickly and thrown to second base, and it got there just as Longoria was sliding in head first. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve swiped his glove down for the tag while Longoria stretched his left hand to the base, and the call was … out. Womp womp.
But Longoria’s quest for the cycle wasn’t over yet. It was a really close play in the ninth inning of a tight game, so the crew chief called for a review. A slow-mo replay of Longoria’s slide showed that he got his hand onto the second base bag just underneath Altuve’s tag. The umpire looking at the play agreed, so the call was reversed and Longoria got his cycle-completing double in very dramatic form.
Longoria is just the second Rays player ever to hit for the cycle. The last Rays player to do it? Melvin Upton on Oct. 2, 2009, back when he still went by B.J. Amazingly, being the second Rays player to hit for the cycle wasn’t the only record that Longoria set on Tuesday night. In the third inning after Longoria’s triple, Adeiny Hechavarria hit a single to score Longoria from third. When Longoria crossed the plate, he became the Rays all-time leader in runs scored with 766, passing Carl Crawford.
Longoria is the sixth player to hit for the cycle in 2017. If that sounds like a lot of cycles for one year, it is. The last year to have at least six cycles was 2009, when there were eight. And before 2009, only three other years had six players hit for the cycle: 2004, 1976, and 1940.
There are still two months left to go in the regular season, so 2017 has a chance to tie or even beat 2009’s eight cycles. And if that happens, Evan Longoria has definitely done his part.
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