Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zobrist Leads Rays Past Orioles; Utley Rounding Into Form after DL Stint

Players of the Day for Saturday, June 11, 2011

American League

With all the hubbub over bean-ball between Boston and New York, the Tampa Bay Rays have managed to quietly stay just behind the two leaders of the AL East, in third place, two games behind the Yankees and four back of the Red Sox.
Ben Zobrist

After being shut out in Baltimore Friday night, the Rays struck back with a 7-5, 11-inning win over the O's on Saturday.

Of 15 hits collected by the Rays, four each came off the bats of Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist, and, while Kotchman drove in a pair of runs, Zobrist made the most of his three doubles and one single, scoring four times, including the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th.

His three two-baggers giving him 20 on the year, Zobrist is tied with Carlos Quentin of the White Sox for third in the AL, behind Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, both of whom have 21.

National League

Chase Utley
The Phillies managed to maintain their two-game lead over the Braves in the NL East with a 7-1 home win over the Cubs, as Cliff Lee turned in one of his better performances of the season and Chase Utley, recently returned from the DL, went 2-for-5 with a double and his second home run of the year - a two-run shot - driving in four of Philadelphia's seven runs.

Cliff Lee
Utley's return to form has been a gradual one, though he seems to be coming around just fine, having hit safely in seven of his last eight games. With only 66 at-bats, his average is rising quickly, up to a fairly pedestrian .242, though just a week ago, it was at .195.

As for Lee, who improved to 6-5, he stymied the Cubs on four hits, issuing a pair of walks while striking out seven over eight innings, giving up one harmless run in the 3rd inning. With some hitting support, Lee's record could be better, as his ERA is a solid 3.41, to go with a 1.21 WHIP.

JETER 3000 WATCH: Going 0-for-5 in NY's 4-0 win over Cleveland, Jeter remains nine hits short of the 3000 plateau and with just five games remaining on the current home stand, may not get to the mark in front of Yankee fans.

The Yanks have two more against the Indians and then a three=game series with the Rangers before heading off to Chicago, then Cincinnati, for a pair of three-game, interleague series.

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