Rays enjoying power surge
Three homers in three straight games is postseason first
BOSTON -- While everybody expected to see pitching, defense and timely hitting from the Rays, nobody could see this power outburst coming.
Through their first eight postseason games, the Rays have hit 16 home runs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays are tied for the most home runs in Major League history by a team participating in its first postseason -- the 1995 Mariners hit 16 in 11 games. Overall, the 16 are tied for 14th place all-time in a single postseason.
In addition, according to Elias, the Rays became the first team in Major League history to hit at least three homers in three consecutive postseason games.
Rays manager Joe Maddon had several theories on the sudden display of power.
"[Longoria] has gotten hot, B.J. [Upton], there's no explanation except when you -- as a group -- start doing that, and we have guys that can [get hot]. It's not like guys are doing things they are not capable of doing," Maddon said. "They just happen to be getting hot at the same time.
"That's the one part of this team that we've talked about, the consistency of the pitching and defense, and then we talked about timely hitting all the time. During all this time, I've often felt we would bring it together offensively at some point. We're healthy now, too. Longo's had enough at-bats. Carl [Crawford] is the surprise. He has not had that many at-bats, but he's swinging the bat as well as he is."
Crawford, who had surgery on his right hand in August, went 5-for-5 in Game 4 to raise his average to .500 (9-for-18) in the American League Championship Series. He has done so while hitting in the fifth spot in the order behind Longoria.
"Carl doing what he's doing now is big, because that permits Longo to see a pitch," Maddon said.
In addition, Maddon noted that Upton is feeling better and Carlos Pena is now swinging at strikes, which makes him a more dangerous hitter.
"It's a contagious situation, I hope it doesn't go away for another couple of weeks," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.