Ben Zobrist doubled in each of his final two at-bats during the Tampa Bay Rays' 4-0 win over Boston on Wednesday to raise his total of two-base hits this season to a major league-leading 40.
His previous career-best was 28, which he did in both 2009 and 2010.
"I really don't have any explanation for that," Zobrist said. "If I smell it I'm going for it right now. I got jammed on a pitch and I kept it fair on that last one (Wednesday). I feel like I've had a lot of those this year where I just got enough of it where it's just down the line. I've hit some hard too, but I've had a lot of those other ones, too, and I think that's where that higher number comes from."
Manager Joe Maddon had an explanation.
"He drives the ball," Maddon said. "He could drive the ball in gaps or down lines, and that's where the doubles come from. He's not just a slappy singles hitter. He has home run power, but he drives balls in gaps and down lines."
That Zobrist is a switch-hitter also helps, Maddon said. So does his mindset of thinking double every time he leaves the batter's box, which is something he wants every hitter to think.
"Every time you hit a double you're in scoring position," Maddon said. "That's the beauty of the double."
Former Ray Aubrey Huff holds the team record for doubles in a season with 47 in 2003. Zobrist is on pace to break that record. He's also on pace to join Pete Rose (1974-76), Lance Berkman (2001) and Brian Roberts (2009) as the only switch-hitters to lead the majors in doubles during the last 40 years.
More on Price
LHP David Price has faced the Red Sox four times this season and is 3-1, having held them to three or fewer runs on five or fewer hits in each game. He is the first pitcher to do that since Mike Mussina of the Yankees in 2002.
INF Sean Rodriguez and C Kelly Shoppach were each hit twice by pitches before LHP David Price hit Red Sox RF Darnell McDonald during the seventh inning Wednesday.
McDonald didn't seem to like it as he headed toward first. The inning end when McDonald was forced at second base, and he slid hard enough into Zobrist to nick Zobrist with his spike in the back of the second basemen's leg. Zobrist just ran off the field.
"It appeared to me that he did not like being hit in the hip," Maddon said.
When told Shoppach and Rodriguez were both hit during the series, Maddon said, "twice, got hit twice. We didn't cry."
Rays notes: Zobrist providing double trouble
Tampa Tribune | Aug 18