Friday, April 29, 2011

Ten RBI for Ben Zobrist in Double Header; Berkman Adds Depth to Cardinal Attack

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 28, 2011

American League

Ben Zobrist
Ballplayers live for driving in runs. Getting hits is nice, but hitting with runners on base, in scoring position, is what it's all about.

An RBI per game would break records. Getting three or four in a game is outstanding, but what Ben Zobrist of the the Tampa Bay Rays did on Thursday was off the charts.

Zobrist drove in eight runs in the first game of a double header and, for an encore, knocked in two more as the Rays took a pair from the struggling Twins, 15-3 and 6-1.

The start of the first game was fairly routine, though the Rays hit home plate twice, one run driven in by Zobrist on a single to right. But that was just the beginning of the onslaught and Zobrist's record day.

He hit a three-run homer in the sixth, doubled in two more in the 8th and doubled again in the 9th, driving in two more runs, finishing with an amazing line stat: 4-for-6, with a home run, two doubles, two runs and eight RBI.

After that, one would think Minnesota might have chosen to pitch around Zobrist, but he went 3-for-4 in the second game, with another homer and a double, scored twice and drove in two more runs, pushing his RBI total for the day to 10 and vaulting himself into the league lead with 25 on the season and into a tie for second in home runs with seven, one behind Toronto's Jose Bautista.

The two Tampa wins extended their winning streak to five straight, putting them 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Yankees in the AL East. The Twins dropped into a tie with the White Sox for last place in the Central, seven games behind the streaking Cleveland Indians.

National League

Lance Berkman
Lance Berkman spent most of his major league career toiling in the relative obscurity of Houston. Last season, he took the free agency route to New York in late July, though the Yankees didn't use him very much and eventually shuffled him off to the National League's Cardinals.

Manager Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis brass have been more than content with the slugger's performance thus far. Berkman is batting over .400 and, together with Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols, creates a pitcher's nightmare in the middle of the Cardinal lineup.

The Cardinals took a one-game lead in the NL Central with an 11-7 win at Houston, and Berkman made sure his former team would regret letting him go.

Berkman went 4-for-5, crashed a pair of homers, doubled, scored three times and drove in five runs. In the just-completed three-game series at Houston, Berkman went 8-for-14 and drove in seven runs. It's safe to say he made his point to his former team.

Berkman's .410 batting average is second in the NL to teammate Matt Holliday (.433). He's also second in home runs with 8, and RBI with 22.

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