Longoria will be activated for the first time since late April in Tuesday night's series opener in St. Petersburg, where James Shields looks to build off his best start of the season with another strong outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Near the bottom of the league with 434 runs, Tampa Bay (56-52) has gone 21 consecutive innings without scoring after back-to-back home losses to Baltimore over the weekend.
"I'm at the point now where I'd really like them to do less as opposed to more," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website following Sunday's 1-0, 10-inning loss. "... I'd rather us go the other way, back off with the work, go play, come with a fresh mind and body, and I think we'll have a better result."
The Rays have scored four total runs while losing four of five in St. Petersburg, but having Longoria back for the first time since he partially tore his left hamstring April 30 could provide a much-needed lift for a team challenging for an AL wild-card spot.
Longoria, who was batting .329 with four homers and 19 RBIs before being hurt, went 2 for 3 with a walk for Triple-A Durham on Sunday in his eighth rehab appearance.
While the Rays' offense remains an issue, the pitching staff continues to impress with a 1.64 ERA over the last 16 games. Tampa Bay's relievers have a 0.54 ERA during that stretch.
That group got a break in Shields' last start, an 8-0 three-hitter in Oakland last Tuesday. Shields (9-7, 4.24 ERA), who was 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in his previous seven outings, was pitching hours after learning he'd be staying put at the trade deadline."It really hadn't bothered me but it's good to be a Ray," the right-hander said after striking out a season high-tying 11 for his seventh career shutout. "This is my home. I'm glad to be here."
The Blue Jays (53-55) would likely have preferred to see Shields move elsewhere considering he's 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA in his last four starts in the series.
After Shields pitched three-run ball of 7 1-3 innings May 23, the Rays won their 15th consecutive home series versus Toronto with a 5-4, 11-inning victory.
Left-hander J.A. Happ (0-0, 5.14) will try to help the Blue Jays solve their woes in St. Petersburg as he takes Brett Cecil 's spot in the rotation for his Toronto starting debut after four relief appearances.
Happ's start was moved up two days when right-hander Carlos Villanueva left the team for personal reasons.
"We acquired (Happ) to (start)," manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website. "He remained patient while we had to go through and sort some things out. And his opportunity's here now."
Recent Triple-A call-ups Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose had their opportunity in wins at Oakland on Saturday and Sunday, but it appears third baseman Brett Lawrie (rib cage tightness) and center fielder Colby Rasmus (strained groin) will return Tuesday.
"We have a deep organization," Rajai Davis said. "We got some hitters that are definitely very good."
Edwin Encarnacion , the team leader with a career-high 29 homers, is 9 for 30 with two home runs and five RBIs as the Blue Jays have lost six of eight to Tampa Bay this season. He's 1 for 9 against Shields since 2011.
Second baseman Ben Zobrist should be back in Tampa Bay's lineup after leaving Sunday's game with upper-back spasms.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 03, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - rib cage tightness|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||15-Day DL||Broken right hand|
|July 26, 2012||Adam Lind||15-Day DL||Mid-back strain|
|July 25, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|July 17, 2012||Jason Frasor||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays got another stellar start from James Shields , and an offensive spark from Evan Longoria .
Shields threw eight strong innings, Longoria drove in a run in his return from an injury, and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Tuesday night.
"I stayed aggressive," Shields said. "I think I've turned the corner. Hopefully I get on a little roll here."
Shields (10-7) allowed one run and two hits. The right-hander was coming off a three-hit shutout last Tuesday at Oakland.
Longoria rejoined the Rays after missing 85 games because of a partially torn left hamstring. He went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly as the designated hitter.
"It's weird going into a game just trying to make it out healthy," Longoria said. "Sometimes it's little things that are important, and today was huge stepping stone. There was nothing about today that was negative. No setbacks, I felt great."
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 33rd save and completed the three-hitter. The closer set a team record for relievers - breaking the mark set by Joe Borowski (21) in 2005 - by extending his shutout streak to 22 consecutive innings.
Longoria got a standing ovation before his first at-bat in the second, when left-hander J.A. Happ (0-1) reached behind his legs to glove a grounder and then threw out the three-time All-Star.
Longoria made it 2-0 on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the third, an opposite-field drive caught at the wall by right fielder Moises Sierra . Jeff Keppinger extended the lead to 3-0 on another sacrifice fly later in the inning.
After striking out in the fifth, Longoria ended his night with a line-drive single to center in the eighth.
"I'm just as happy as anyone else that Longo is back," Shields said. "Just to see him back in the clubhouse and see him out on the field. He's the leader in this clubhouse, that's what it comes down to."
Shields struck out six, walked one and hit a batter.
"Shields really held us down," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
The Rays stopped a 22-inning scoreless stretch and took a 1-0 lead in the second as Ryan Roberts - mired in a 3-for-32 slide - hit a two-out pop fly double down the right-field line and scored on Sean Rodriguez 's single.
Colby Rasmus hit his 20th homer, a solo shot in the fourth, that got Toronto within 3-1. Rasmus, who had missed the previous two games because of tightness in his right groin, singled in the ninth.
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 in the fifth on Ben Zobrist 's RBI double. Zobrist had left Sunday's game with upper back spasms.
Happ, making his first start with the Blue Jays, gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. He had made four relief appearances since being acquired from Houston on July 20.
"The result is the only thing that matters, but I did feel better than, probably, the numbers indicate," Happ said. "I felt like I was making some good pitches. They used the whole field and they were falling for them, and weren't falling for us. A frustrating one for sure."
Happ's previous start, while with the Astros, came on July 16. He threw 6 1-3 innings in a 2-0 win over San Diego.
Notes: Farrell said OF Jose Bautista , out since July 17 with left wrist inflammation, still has some soreness on a small area of the hand and will undergo an MRI. ... Blue Jays INF Brett Lawrie missed his third straight game due to rib cage tightness. ... Tampa Bay DH Luke Scott (oblique) ran the bases and took batting practice. ... Toronto RHPs Drew Hutchison and Dustin McGowan are both scheduled to have surgery Thursday. Hutchison will have elbow ligament surgery, while McGowan is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery to evaluate the right shoulder joint.