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News » Rays-Orioles Preview 2009-04-11

Rays-Orioles Preview 2009-04-11

Rays-Orioles Preview 2009-04-11
It's only taken Evan Longoria four games to dispel any notion of a sophomore slump.

The red-hot third baseman looks to help the Tampa Bay Rays start a new winning streak against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night when the AL East rivals continue a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Longoria proved last season to be more than worthy of the hype he received before making his major league debut on April 12, 2008. The third overall pick in the 2006 draft played an instrumental role in helping the Rays win the AL pennant, batting .272 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs in 122 games.

He was named Rookie of the Year in November and the six-year, $17.5 million contract he signed appears to be a huge bargain for Tampa Bay even though the deal could eventually be worth as much as $44 million.

In the season-opening three-game series at Boston, Longoria was 6-for-14 with two home runs, five RBIs and two doubles as the Rays (2-2) won two of three. He added a two-run homer and a solo shot in Friday night's 5-4 loss to Baltimore, giving him eight RBIs in four games.

"I feel good," Longoria told the Rays' official Web site. "I was talking to Carl (Crawford), and it's one of those things - when you get on a roll like this, you just have to ride it as long as you can. Obviously, I don't always feel this good the whole year. I try to keep doing the same things I've been doing every day. Hopefully, it works out in the game."

Longoria's continued hot hitting, though, wasn't enough to extend Tampa Bay's winning streak against Baltimore to 13, as Melvin Mora's three RBIs helped the Orioles (3-1) beat the Rays for the first time since last April 29.

"It's 2009, so you put 2008 to bed and you put that streak to bed," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I dare say that I didn't even think about it."

The top three batters in Baltimore's lineup - Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis - were 5-for-12 Friday and are batting a collective .432 (19-for-44) with 10 RBIs and 15 runs this season.

Seeking a 4-1 start for the second consecutive season, the Orioles send Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 4.50 ERA) to the mound.

The right-hander was effective in a 10-5 victory over the New York Yankees in Monday's season opener, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings with three walks and three strikeouts. The 10 runs the Orioles scored for Guthrie stood in stark contrast to last season, when he received an average of 2.9 runs of support in his first 12 starts.

He won his first career start against the Rays on May 8, 2007, but is 0-4 with a 6.21 ERA in his last six appearances versus them.

Carlos Pena is 6-for-14 (.429) with a home run against Guthrie, but Longoria is hitless with two strikeouts in three at-bats.

Jeff Niemann (2-2, 5.06) makes his season debut and third career start for the Rays.

Both of Niemann's career victories have come against the Orioles. The 6-foot-9 right-hander won his major league debut April 13, 2008, limiting Baltimore to one run and six hits in six innings of a 6-2 victory. His other win came at Camden Yards on Sept. 23, when he gave up two runs in 2 1-3 innings of relief as the Rays rallied for a 7-5 win.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 11, 2009

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