The Tampa Bay Rays just completed a scorching hot month winning 21 of 26 games which according to Stats, Inc. ranks as the 3rd best July in Major League history (since 1921) behind the 1941 Yankees and the 1946 Cubs. It was also the best month in franchise history behind a 20-6 record in June of 2004 and their 21 wins tied their previous franchise record for wins in a month (August 2008). It was quite an accomplishment for the Rays especially with Evan Longoria struggling mightily at the plate.
Over his 111 plate appearances over the month of July he hit just .194 (19 for 98) and his overall slash line (batting average/on-base%/slugging%) was a paltry .194/.288/.347 for an OPS (on-base% + slugging%) of just .635. He posted an extra-base hit% of 9.3% in April, 12.6% in May, and 11.1% in July but only 6.3% in July (4 HR, 3 doubles).
An alarming 33% (37 of 111) of his plate appearances ended in a strike out including 10 strikeouts looking. A total of 12 of the strikeouts (10 swinging, 2 looking) came with runners in scoring position including getting caught looking to end the game against Jose Veras of the Houston Astros with runners at 1st and 3rd and the Rays trailing 2-1.
Despite his struggles the Rays managed to rank 4th in the American League in runs scored with 120, 2nd in batting average (.273) and on-base% (.341), 4th in slugging% (.419), but were only 8th in hitting home runs (26).
The Rays offense didn’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting in July as the pitching staff dominated the opposition compiling a league leading ERA of 2.45 (67 ER/237.1IP) and holding the opposition to an AL best batting average against of .211.
There are times during the course of a season when the offense and pitching are clicking together but at some point in the final two months the Rays will need their offense to pick up the pitching and that task will be made much easier if Evan Longoria can get on track.
There are selfish reasons for wanting Longoria to get back to the level we are accustomed to seeing. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Rays lineup with both Longoria and Wil Myers hot at the same time?