Prior to Tim Beckham’s first big-league at-bat, he stood next to a guy who knows a thing or two about hitting.
And it just so happened that Longoria also knew Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers, who was called in to face Beckham, a shortstop the Tampa Bay Rays’ made the first overall pick of the 2008 draft, during the eighth inning of Thursday’s game at Tropicana Field.
“He told me Tanner Scheppers was coming in and obviously he has a hard fastball,” Beckham said. “And when he gets to two strikes, he likes to quick pitch. And he did quick pitch.”
So Beckham made the most of Longoria’s advice and poked a 1-2 pitch into right field for his first career hit. Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus, who took the throw from rightfielder Alex Rios, called time and lobbed the ball into the Rays’ dugout for Beckham to keep as a memento. And Rangers’ first baseman Mitch Moreland gave Beckham a congratulatory tap on the thigh with his glove.
The hit was a long time coming for Beckham, who logged 2,408 minor-league at-bats in 641 games before the Rays called him up earlier this week from Triple-A Durham.
Despite the long wait, Beckham, sent up to pitch hit for Matt Joyce, said he was calm while waiting on the on-deck circle.
“Going into it, I thought I would have been a little nervous,” he said following the Rays’ 8-2 loss to the Rangers. “But I knew a fastball pitcher was coming in and I knew that was one of my strong points.”
Beckham, who was erased when Longoria rolled into a double play, got a nice ovation from what remained of the 13,550 fans. Beckham stayed in the game at shortstop.
“He’s a great kid, and it was good to get him out there and get him out at shortstop,” said manager Joe Maddon, “just in case we are going to need him. To break that moment for him I thought was very good.”
TIEBREAKER TO TEXAS: The Rangers clinched the season series over the Rays and, consequently, would host a one-game playoff should the two teams finish the season tied for the two wild-card spots.
Texas won the season series 4-3.
The Rays went 3-1 in Texas during the 2010 and ’11 American League Division Series.
NO, MOORE: Matt Moore became the first Rays pitcher to allow three home runs in an inning since James Shields did so Aug. 7, 2010 at Toronto. Prior to Thursday, Moore had never allowed more than two home runs in a start and had given up three home runs in his last 11 starts combined.
UP NEXT: The Rays host the Baltimore Orioles 7:10 p.m. Friday for the first of a four-game series. David Price (8-8, 3.42) goes for Tampa Bay against former Ray Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.12). The Orioles trail the Rays and Rangers by two games in the wild-card race.