Dickerson regaining confidence after big game

Dickerson regaining confidence after big game

ST. PETERSBURG -- August was unkind to Rays hitters, particularly Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria. An offensive showing like the one provided in a big 11-4 win over the Twins Monday can go a long way toward turning the ship around.

Dickerson provided a home run and two doubles, one of three Rays hitters with a trio of hits Monday. Longoria capitalized on the baserunning traffic with a pair of knocks and three RBIs.

"Offensively, a lot of people played roles," manager Kevin Cash said. "It's good to see some guys get hot. Nice to see [Longoria] get a couple big hits with guys on base. Dickerson obviously had a tremendous day. Logan Morrison, Kevin Kiermaier, up and down the lineup we had some contributions.

"Hopefully [it will] carry over tomorrow. We were quiet on Sunday for sure, but I think the guys understand what's at stake with the series, especially who we're playing, with a team that's above us."

The Rays dropped a rubber match to the White Sox Sunday in which their offense was conspicuously absent, a problematic theme for much of August. Tampa Bay averaged 3.36 runs per game over that time, its lowest output of any month this year. That came largely as a result of simultaneous slumps.

Longoria's monthly batting average had continuously risen, from a .208 April up to a .320 July, an improvement in each month in between. That reversed course in August, when he managed one home run and a .240 clip. Monday, he came through with two timely hits.

Longoria's two-run single

"It's just huge for his confidence," Dickerson said. "[To] feel good about his swing, that's more or less anything. He's used to getting RBIs, he's used to having a big hit. And to have that going into the last couple weeks, it feels good to just be able to relax and let your talents take over."

Dickerson is starting to feel better as well. He admitted experiencing mental and physical fatigue coming out of a busy All-Star "break," in which he made a pair of cross-country flights to participate in the Midsummer Classic and then rejoin the Rays for the second half of the season.

The left fielder batted .243 in August, which along with a .220 July, dropped his .330 batting average down to .285. A tough road trip to the Bronx and Houston wore on him, he said.

"It's all part of it though, it's baseball," Dickerson said. "It is fatiguing, mentally, physically, and sometimes it's tough to get over with.

"But I think everybody's feeling pretty good right now."

That change in feeling can happen pretty quickly when a baseball team starts picking up. The offense looked effective for much of its recently completed, 5-4 road trip, and a 14-hit effort against Minnesota was another welcome jolt. Dickerson said physically he's been doing much better in the last week or so, and expects the mental fatigue to soon vanish as well.

"Everyday baseball players are tired, I mean you play this game this much," Dickerson said. "But it's more mental. It's how can you get yourself back on that mental track. And I feel like it's starting to come back around."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.