Longoria, Zobrist providing boost on offense

Longoria, Zobrist providing boost on offense

Longoria, Zobrist providing boost on offense
ANAHEIM -- B.J. Upton's offense of late has been a sign that better things can be expected of the Rays' offense. But add in what Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria are doing, and there is reason to start believing that the team can produce plenty of runs the rest of the season.

Several players called Zobrist's three-run double during Saturday night's 10-8 win against the Angels the biggest hit of the game. After a slow start this season, Zobrist entered Sunday's action hitting .262 with 30 doubles. Last season, Zobrist finished with 46 doubles.

"Doubles are big," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "If you hit a double you're in scoring position the moment you arrive at the bag -- there's no moving the runners, there's no hit and run. You're at second base and in scoring position. That's where a double is so attractive."

Even though Maddon is clearly impressed with Zobrist's double count, Zobrist himself uses another measuring stick to gauge his performance.

"If I'm going to look at numbers, or extra-base hits, I'm looking more at slugging percentage overall," Zobrist, who has a .460 slugging percentage, said. "The doubles, I think, are just something that happens. For me, the last couple of years they've just come easier than they have before that. But I don't really measure anything by the amount of doubles I have. Last year was the first time I actually thought about doubles at all."

Meanwhile, Longoria's home run Saturday night went to right-center field, which is a particularly good sign for the Rays.

"[Longoria] hitting the ball to right-center is really attractive when he's doing that that," Maddon said. "... When he's doing that, that usually means his swing is in pretty good order."

Longoria does feel pretty good about his swing right now.

"The past couple of days my work in the cage and at batting practice has finally just been starting to show some signs of my old swing and the way I want things to go," Longoria said.