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Longoria belts way into history

Longoria belts way into history

ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria's cell phone will undoubtedly be flooded with messages after the performance he gave during the Rays' 6-4 win over the White Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.

Longoria plans on making a call of his own, too.

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With a pair of home runs in the victory over Chicago, Longoria became only the second player in baseball history to clear the fence in each of his first two career postseason at-bats. The other is Gary Gaetti, who spent some time as Longoria's hitting coach with Triple-A Durham during parts of the past two seasons.
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"He won't call me," Longoria said with a laugh. "I'll probably have to call him."

While he shares that rare company with Gaetti, Longoria provided a show that was unprecedented for a rookie. This was the 22-year-old third baseman's first trip to the playoffs, whereas Gaetti was in his seventh season with the Twins when he accomplished the same feat against the Tigers in Game 1 of the 1987 AL Championship Series.

That made Longoria's showing unique.

"It was a little different day for a rookie player," Longoria said.

Longoria began his assault in the second inning, when he drilled the first pitch he received from White Sox starter Javier Vazquez into the left-center-field seats for a solo blast that put the Rays ahead, 1-0. That marked the first postseason run in Tampa Bay's history and made Longoria the 30th player to go yard in his first career playoff at-bat.

In third, Longoria violently pulled an 0-1 offering from Vazquez for another solo shot, handing Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead in the process. Longoria lifted the pitch high above left field, where the baseball hit the "C" catwalk -- an estimated 125 feet above the field. After rounding third base, Longoria clapped his hands hard and let out a yell before crossing home plate.

Later in the game, Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske let Longoria in on the fact that the rook had done something only one other player had done before.

Dynamic debuts
The most recent 12 players who have hit a homer in their first playoff game
Year
Player
Team
Pitcher
Team
2008
Evan Longoria
Rays
Javier Vazquez
White Sox
2008
Jason Bay
Red Sox
John Lackey
Angels
2007
Asdrubal Cabrera
Indians
Chien-Ming Wang
Yankees
2007
Victor Martinez
Indians
Chien-Ming Wang
Yankees
2007
Travis Hafner
Indians
Ross Ohlendorf
Yankees
2007
Ryan Garko
Indians
Phil Hughes
Yankees
2007
Stephen Drew
D-backs
Carlos Zambrano
Cubs
2007
Mark Reynolds
D-backs
Carlos Marmol
Cubs
2007
Pat Burrell
Phillies
Jeff Francis
Rockies
2007
Matt Holliday
Rockies
Tom Gordon
Phillies
2006
Craig Monroe
Tigers
Chien-Ming Wang
Yankees
2006
Curtis Granderson
Tigers
Mike Myers
Yankees
2006
Carlos Delgado
Mets
Derek Lowe
Dodgers
Courtesy of David Vincent of SABR
"'Ske told me I was only the second person," Longoria said with a smile. "And somebody chimed in and said Gaetti was the other one. It was pretty funny."

Reached by phone near his home in Louisiana, Gaetti was proud to be linked to Longoria.

"It's kind of special that it's somebody that I know," Gaetti said. "I wish he would have gone deep for a third time. But I'm really proud of him and happy for the Rays. He's actually the best all-around young player that I've coached in the Minor Leagues."

Truth be told, Longoria only spent 38 games under Gaetti's watch at Triple-A over the past two seasons. After being selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, it's been a rapid ascent to the big leagues for the talented third baseman.

This season for Tampa Bay, Longoria led AL rookies with 27 homers and a .531 slugging percentage, despite missing 30 games with a fractured right wrist. Longoria is a leading candidate for the league's Rookie of the Year honor after hitting .272 with 85 RBIs in 122 games for the Rays.

When it was all said and done against Chicago, Longoria went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, adding a walk and a stolen base along the way. Thursday's outburst was simply another addition to what's been a storybook season for Longoria.

"Today was an awesome day," he said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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