Zobrist Has An Historic Day, Rays Sweep Doubleheader
April 28, 2011
A: Minnesota Twins
W: Jeremy Hellickson (2-2) 4.31 ERA
L: Nick Blackburn (1-4) 5.14 ERA
After scoring eight runs last night in a win over the Twins, the Rays nearly doubled that with 15 runs in the first game of the double header. Again, it was the Rays patience against the Twins’ starter that made the difference. The Rays put a two spot on the board in the first, forcing Nick Blackburn to throw over 30 pitches. Casey Kotchman homered to lead off the second. The Rays added two more runs in each the third and fourth innings. The sixth inning turned into the Ben Zobrist show. A three run homer by Zorilla made the score 10-1. He doubled home two more in the seventh to make it 13-1 and added another two RBI double in the ninth to give the Rays a 15-3 lead.
All together, he drove in eight runs which is a team record for one game, breaking Carlos Pena‘s old record of seven. He has 16 runs batted in over the last four games, the most any player has had over that stretch since Sammy Sosa back in the early aughts.
Once again, the Rays’ starter just had to throw strikes and Jeremy Hellickson complied. He gave up a homer in the fourth to Michael Cuddyer and then two more runs in the seventh as he seemed to run out of gas. It was the first game in which he threw over 100 pitches.
W: Jeff Niemann (1-3) 5.60 ERA
L: Anthony Swarzak (0-1) 8.44 ERA
Jeff Niemann won his first game of the year tonight and for a little while it looked like he would have a historic start. Through six innings, he allowed just one baserunner, a walk and had faced the minimum. Denard Span led off the seventh with a little cue shot line drive that just eluded a diving Elliot Johnson. Two outs later, Justin Morneau got a “cleaner” hit, a single a ball off the wall that scored Span, the Twins only run.
Ben Zobrist kept up his torrid pace. He hit his seventh homer of the year in the second, a two run shot. He also hit his seventh double of the year later in the game and scored two more runs. John Jaso added his second homer of the year as well.
Niemann went seven innings and Joel Peralta and Juan Cruz finished up the 6-1 win. They also earned their second ever double header sweep and in the process swept away the Twins rather easily. I know the Twins have a lot of injuries, mainly to Joe Mauer and Delmon Young, but they didn’t just win. They dominated. They outscored Minnesota 29-6 in about 27 hours. Unbelievable.
Since the Rays started 1-8, they have not lost a series. This was their first sweep of three or more games. They have also had two five-game-winning streaks. The Rays went from having the worst record in baseball less than three weeks ago to being tied for a wildcard spot if the season ended today. Again, unbelievable.
Player of the Day: Who else but Ben Zobrist. Ben, enjoy tonight because you will likely never have another day like this at the plate. He went 7 for 10 with two homers, five runs scored and 10 runs batted in. In both games, he was a triple away from the cycle.