3-run HR caps Escobar's stellar home debut

August 3rd, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Even for a veteran player who’s been traded before, there is a feeling-out period, Eduardo Escobar said. He described it being a little “scary” until a player gets grounded with a new team. And then, one day, he’s home.

Monday was that day for Escobar. He knew it at breakfast.

“I talked to my wife and my family this morning and I said, ‘You know what? Today’s my day. It’s time to show the people how happy you are,’” he said. “So I brought my best energy today.”

Escobar, the Brewers’ biggest acquisition in the hours leading to last week’s Trade Deadline, reached safely all four times up in his home debut with an RBI triple, a three-run home run and two runs scored in a 6-2 win over the Pirates.

John Axford’s early exit was the only blemish on a night that saw Milwaukee push 21 games over .500 (64-43) for the first time this season while growing its lead over second-place Cincinnati to 7 1/2 games in the National League Central standings and continuing to take care of business against the division’s last-place club. The Brewers, playing a stretch of the schedule in which nine of their 16 games are against the Pirates, have won 11 of 14 matchups this season including 10 of the last 11.  

Escobar’s big night was just what the Brewers envisioned when they acquired the switch-hitting, defensively-nimble infielder from the D-backs for a pair of prospects amid a three-game Brewers sweep of the Pirates last week at PNC Park. He had a mostly quiet debut series in Atlanta, going 1-for-10 with a home run against the Braves, but the homer was auspicious; Escobar was tied for fifth in the NL in that category at the time of the trade, and the Brewers wanted an infusion of power to a lineup already bolstered by in-season trades for Willy Adames in May and Rowdy Tellez at the start of July. 

For Escobar, Monday was a much more active night. He walked in the second inning and again in the fourth before ripping a run-scoring triple to the right-field corner in the Brewers’ two-run sixth. In the seventh, he launched a three-run home run off Pirates reliever Nick Mears that sailed a Statcast-projected 421 feet to the bleachers in right.  

“I think the home run in Atlanta was big, but this was kind of his first big game. So I think they are important,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I don’t think they have to come in the first home game, but I think you want to have ‘that’ game. You feel like you got traded [in] a significant trade, and you want to contribute.”

With his two home runs in a Brewers uniform, Escobar has 24 homers this season. That’s the most of any Brewers player, six ahead of both Adames and Avisaíl García. 

“I know Esky well because I spent some time with him in Minnesota,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said, “He adds a professional presence to a really good lineup already, from both sides of the plate. There's just a very calming presence for him when he's in the box, and the ability to drive the ball, the ability to take his walks. The Brewers really just added a really professional guy, not only to their lineup but to their club." 

It just took a while for Escobar to settle in. His new teammates helped speed that process along last week when they FaceTimed him on the night of the trade to welcome him to Milwaukee.  

“They’re nice to me and pushing me to, ‘Hey, be yourself, be yourself.’ That was the secret for me today,” Escobar said. “I said, ‘Now I’m feeling at home right now.’ It’s very important. I’m so happy, and especially this great game today. For my first game here [in Milwaukee] and for the people, I think it’s very important. But the most important thing is we won the game.” 

The home run made it a 6-0 game, which has been the magic number for the Brewers. They have won 11 of their first 15 games since the All-Star break while scoring at least six runs in all but one of the victories.

Milwaukee’s run differential in the second half is plus-46.  

“Any team wins a lot of games scoring six runs,” Counsell said. “It’s going to lead to a lot of wins. I don’t know if that’s the magic number or not, but if you want to call it that, you can go with that. It means we had a good offensive night.” 

Beyond winning ballgames, is there a benefit to some relatively stress-free nights?  

“I don’t feel healthier personally because of that,” Counsell said. “I think ‘Murph’ [bench coach Pat Murphy] does.”