Myers rips first big league homer in grand fashion
Rays' top prospect belts slam off Sabathia after intentional walk to Longoria
NEW YORK -- Opposing teams might want to reconsider pitching around Evan Longoria when Wil Myers is standing in the on-deck circle.
On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium in the sixth inning, Myers was faced with one of those moments where he could either be the man or simply a much-hyped phenom.
Myers chose to be the former as his grand slam off CC Sabathia gave the Rays a 5-3 lead over the Yankees in an eventual 7-5 loss. By doing so, Myers became the first player to hit his first career home run at Yankee Stadium (old or new) with the bases loaded since Detroit's Ricky Peters on May 27, 1980.
"I knew I put a good swing on it," Myers said. "I knew it was deep. But I didn't know if it was going out. Luckily it flew out."
New York held a 3-1 lead heading into the sixth when Sam Fuld walked to start the inning and Desmond Jennings followed with a double to left. Two outs later, Longoria stepped to the plate, and Sabathia exercised the option anybody with a right-thinking mind would have by intentionally walking Longoria. After all, Longoria had already homered and doubled in the game, and Myers had not yet spent a full week in the Major Leagues.
"When you look up and they've got three hits and [Longoria has] got two of them -- I know Myers has got the other -- but he's had a lot of success off of CC over the years," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Seems to be swinging the bat pretty well. He also homered off Andy Pettitte the other night. He really hits lefties. In that situation, I'm going to go after the younger kid that hasn't been in that situation a number of times. It didn't work out."
When Myers swung at a sinker and missed badly, the Yankees' decision to put Longoria on looked like the right one. Sabathia got ahead in the count 1-2 when he delivered a 94-mph fastball. Myers connected and drove the ball deep to right field.
Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner appeared to have a chance to make a play, but when he jumped at the wall he landed empty-handed.
"I wasn't sure what happened," Myers said. "I didn't see the ball actually bounce over and I wasn't sure if he caught it or what. But finally, when he came down and I saw that he didn't, I got pretty excited."
Myers rounded the bases with his first Major League home run, the Rays had a 5-3 lead and the excitement about the Tampa Bay rookie shot up in resounding fashion.
"It was just pretty awesome to be down two strikes, and the crowd cheering, and to be able to put a swing like that on it," Myers said. "It was just a cool experience."
Myers finished the day with three hits in four at-bats, including an infield hit against Mariano Rivera in the ninth, to raise his average to .280 while impressing Rays manager Joe Maddon.
"I just think he's handled everything properly and well," Maddon said. "There's no showboating. He's playing the game properly and he's playing it hard. He's listening and not trying to exert himself in a negative way. He's been very good. He's handled it perfectly."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.