Unsung hero: Ben Zobrist comes up big

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
8:27
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Moore and Kelly Shoppach will get the hero's treatment, and rightfully so in the Tampa Bay Rays' 9-0 victory in Game 1 of the ALDS. But, don't overlook the contributions of second baseman and cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist.

He played a key role in Tampa's three-run second and three-run third innings. In the second, he led off and took a 92-mph C.J. Wilson cutter off his right arm and trotted to first in obvious pain. Wilson then got behind Johnny Damon, 3-1, before the 37-year-old designated hitter jerked Wilson's fifth pitch a row or two into the right-field bleachers for a quick 2-0 lead.

In the third, Zobrist caught the Rangers by surprise. Zobrist, with 20 home runs on the season, took advantage of third baseman Adrian Beltre playing deep and laid a perfect bunt down the line that put runners at first and second with no outs.

"That's something he does," Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said, shrugging his shoulders. "He got a bunt down and got a hit."

It also set up Shoppach's second home run of the game, a three-run shot to left that broke the game wide open, 6-0, in the third inning.

"That's definitely his call, but I don't think there's too many cleanup hitters in the league that do drop that bunt," Damon said. "We have a very athletic team that can run, that can bunt. That's the kind of stuff that we need. We are a small-ball team with the occasional pop. It came at a good time."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.06 182 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .320
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 64
RA. Beltre 63
OPSA. Beltre .875
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182