ARLINGTON, Texas -- The numbers don't lie. Kelly Shoppach is not the guy expected to clobber your ace.
Results don't lie either and the Fort Worth native had quite a time of it in front of family and friends Friday, waxing Rangers starter C.J. Wilson for a two-run homer to dead center in the third inning and a three-run blast to left in the sixth that buried Texas in an eventual 9-0 defeat in Game 1 of the ALDS.
"Well, crazy," is how Shoppach, a .176 hitter this season, described his day. "I have historically never played great here, but I think it is such a neat deal for all the people who helped me along the way to have a chance to see me play in this atmosphere."
How crazy that Shoppach took two Wilson pitches out of the park and accounted for five RBIs and scored three times?
In 87 games this season, Shoppach had 11 home runs and 22 RBIs, meaning he just knocked in just fewer than one-quarter of what he produced over the last six months. In the 2010 ALDS series against the Rangers, Shoppach did not play in either Game 4 or 5 at Rangers Ballpark and was 0-for-9 with three strikeouts.
Perhaps Wilson should have had some notion this could happen. Shoppach's only hit in 12 at-bats against the Rangers this season came on Sept. 1 at this ballpark against Wilson. It was a home run.
"He [Wilson] got the ball up to Shoppach," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Shoppach's first shot, "and he hit it straightaway center field."
Shoppach, who starred at Brewer High School and then attended Baylor, matched a Tampa Bay single-game club record with 5 RBIs, and it matched Shoppach's career high, which he's done 13 times now, however, at no bigger time and no bigger stage than on Friday.
He also singled and scored in the second inning to finish 3-for-5 on the day.
He took full advantage of a free opportunity in the fifth when a rare Adrian Beltre throwing error kept the fifth inning from being Wilson's second 1-2-3 frame of the game, which he did in the first. Beltre's wide throw allowed Johnny Damon, who homered in the second for a quick 2-0 lead, to avoid Michael Young's tag and stride in safely to first.
Then, as any good catcher will do, Shoppach made Wilson work with a seven-pitch at-bat. He worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off a couple of pitches, one that he crushed to the foul side of the left-field foul pole. The seventh pitch he caught squarely the Rays led 6-0.
"Any time you play well, you feel confident," said Shoppach, who will likely be in Saturday's Game 2 lineup with Rangers lefty Derek Holland on the hill. "I'm not going to change what I have been thinking all along. Sometimes they throw it where I'm swinging and when they do that I have a chance to get some hits."
Sounds like Holland will have to try to avoid where Shoppach is swinging.