In non-automotive parlance, clutch is defined as either ‘to seize with or as with the hands or claws; snatch:’ or ‘to grip or hold tightly or firmly.’ However, down in Tampa Bay, there may be another definition that could be considered for the word – Evan Longoria.
Perhaps more than any other player the Rays have had this side of the immortal Dan Johnson, Longoria seems to live for the biggest moments. His shot to end Game 162 in 2011 catapulted the Rays past the free falling Red Sox for the Wild Card. His third inning home run in Game 163 this year proved to be the game winning RBI as the Rays defeated the Rangers to make earn the second Wild Card spot this season. That magic continued last night, as Longoria belted an 0-1 pitch to left for a three run shot, tying the game and giving the Rays a much needed boost.
That home run may have actually meant much more to the Rays than a tie game. Clay Buchholz had not given up a run to the Rays all season. The Red Sox had seen virtually every break go their way this series, and the Rays had been playing with their heads down, seemingly expecting the worse. After the home run, the Rays came alive, making the plays in the field that they had been making all season. The team had perked up, and appeared to believe that they had a legitimate chance to not only win this game, but to advance to the ALCS.
That home run was just another part of the burgeoning postseason legend of Longoria. In his young career, he has already slugged nine playoff homers, and two other huge shots to bring the Rays to the postseason.
Sometimes, all it takes is one swing, one moment to change the complexion of a game or a series. For the Rays, Evan Longoria may have provided that moment with his home run. And that, perhaps more than anything else, is what clutch truly is.