Behind the continued hot hitting from Ben Zobrist, Gabe Kapler and B.J. Upton, the Tampa Bay Rays bats put an end to the 11 game winning streak of the Colorado Rockies. Each Rays starter would register a hit (except Jeff Niemann) and even Gabe Gross, who came in on a double switch had a hit. The Rays would score 12 runs on 17 hits led by the trio of Zobrist, Kapler and Upton.
The three amigos combined to go 9-15 with three home runs, three singles, two triples and a double. Each was one hit shy of the first cycle in Rays history. For Upton he fell a triple shy, while both Kapler and Zobrist missed the cycle by a double. They combined for eight RBI with Kapler,himself, responsible for four of them.
In a deja vu moment, it looked like Kapler had popped up to foul territory in his first at-bat. However, much like Sunday's game, the ball was misplayed by the opposing team's fielder (in this case Ian Stewart) and Kapler was given a second case. Also like Sunday's game, Kapler would make the opposing team pay on the very next pitch. No, it was not a home run like he hit against the Nationals, but the result was similar. Kapler tripled to the gap in left center field plating two of his teammates to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. The Rays took the lead in the 1st on Evan Longoria's 15th home run of the season. After hitting .219/.306/.406 in April and .146/.250/.171 in May, Kapler. is hitting .467/.529/1.400 in June with a home run in each of the last four games. All of his homers have come against LH,P which is what he was signed to do. When the man heats up, he doesn't mess around. When Kapler was replaced by Gross, he was a double shy of the cycle. Naturally, in his only at-bat, Gross hit what has now been scored a double, completing the all Gabe cycle.
Also heating up is B.J. Upton. We've covered this topic so much, but the regression continues. Like Kapler, Upton struggled for the first two months. He hit .177/.320/.226 in April and .218/.285/.323 in May with a combined nine XBH. Well now that he has his bat speed back, he is hitting .302/.373/.491 with six XBH already in June. His BABIP and LD are still below career norms which suggests the regression will continue.
One man who has been red hot all season is Mr. AKA Ben Zobrist. The man with more alias than Jennifer Garner continues to hit at an MVP's pace. Zobrist has finally crossed the 200 plate appearance threshold and already he has 14 home runs. Add in his fourth triple of the season and Benzo has 32 XBH in 203 plate appearances. His slash line is a ridiculous .318/.429/.694 and his wOBA is an amazing .471. Once again, he has passed Evan Longoria for the team lead in WAR and he leads the American League with a 3.8 WAR (min. 200 PA).
While Zobrist, Kapler and Upton have grabbed recent headlines, Carlos Pena's little hot streak has flown a bit under the radar. Los got into the act in the 5th inning crushing his 21st home run of the season, tying Mark Teixiera for the AL Lead. All Pena has done in his last 13 games is hit .273/.389/.614 with four home runs and 13 runs scored.
The major league leaders in runs scored, the Rays added to their lead last night and now lead the Yankees 379 to 365. Offense on a night like last night is great, but great starting pitching is also nice. Making his fifth start of the season, and his Coors Field debut, I'd love to see a strong performance out of David Price tonight.
The only thing better than a six game win streak is a seven game win streak.