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Escobar raising the bar with everyday role

Goes 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, RBI in victory

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins sent Danny Santana down on Aug. 1, manager Paul Molitor seemed committed to platooning Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez at shortstop based on matchups.

But Escobar has made that increasingly harder. Escobar carried over a hot August into the first day of September, going 3-for-4 in Tuesday's 8-6 victory over the White Sox and sparking the team's three-run, eighth-inning rally.

Escobar played out of position earlier this season, playing 34 games in left field. An infielder by trade, he sometimes looked out of position, misplaying fly balls. Now, he's seeing the majority of the time at shortstop.

When he comes to the park, more often than not, he knows he's going to be in the lineup, and he knows where he's going to be. He sported a .295/.375/.577 slashline in August with four home runs, doubling his season total in the month.

Video: [email protected]: Twins score go-ahead run on error after bunt

So, what changed?

"I think more opportunity to play every day," Escobar said. "It's different when you're coming to the field, you know what position you play."

Tuesday, Escobar drove in the first run with a single, and followed that up with a double to lead off the fourth and another to lead off the eighth.

"He's played well. He's swinging the bat as of late as well as he has all season," Molitor said. "I think he's comfortable with the fact that he's getting a majority of the playing time defensively. Offensively, as far as both sides of the plate, he's getting it done."

Escobar came through in the eighth inning with the Twins locked in a tie game after seeing a four-run lead turn into a one-run deficit. An inning after Miguel Sano launched the tying home run, Escobar provided a spark of his own.

Down 0-2 against White Sox reliever Zach Duke, Escobar knew he needed to put the ball in play. He did better than that, fighting off a curveball and lining it to right field. He scored on the very next play, as Duke threw away Kurt Suzuki's sacrifice bunt.

With the three-hit effort, Escobar has 11 hits in his past seven games. And it couldn't come at a better time for the Twins, as they're chasing down the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card.

"I'm feeling good now," Escobar said.

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for
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