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Escobar comes up clutch, lifts Twins over Sox

Shortstop leads Majors with 32 doubles, on pace for 75 this season
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar wasn't among the leaders at shortstop in the latest ballot update for the All-Star Game released on Tuesday, but he's continuing to build his case to be a first-time All-Star.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar wasn't among the leaders at shortstop in the latest ballot update for the All-Star Game released on Tuesday, but he's continuing to build his case to be a first-time All-Star.

Vote Escobar and the Twins into the All-Star Game

View Full Game Coverage

Escobar had a go-ahead two-run double off Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the sixth. And after reliever Zach Duke couldn't hold a one-run lead in the eighth, Escobar smacked another double that brought home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning to lift the Twins to a 6-2 win in the series opener at Target Field.

Escobar leads the Majors with 32 doubles, and he's on pace for 75 this season, which would break Earl Webb's all-time record of 67 set in 1931 with the Red Sox. Along with Eddie Rosario, Escobar has paced the Twins' offense, and he came up huge again, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs after setting a career high with three doubles on Sunday.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar plates LaMarre, Rosario with double

"I marvel at it," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's a high number for the stage of the season where we're at. It's unprecedented territory as far as Twins history, and really, I don't know if he can keep up that kind of torrid pace, but we're seeing a guy who is supremely confident fill in some of the holes he had."

With two runners on and one out in the eighth, the Red Sox brought in hard-throwing reliever Joe Kelly to face Escobar. But Escobar jumped on a 2-2 fastball, ripping it to left-center field, with center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. misplaying it for an error, allowing both runners to score and Escobar to reach third on an RBI single. Two batters later, Robbie Grossman put the game away with a two-run triple.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar, LaMarre on big 8th inning in win

"If they don't catch the ball, I'm going to run to second base -- 100 percent," Escobar said. "My mentality when I make contact with the ball is to run all the way to second base. I don't know what happened, why he didn't catch the ball. But it's OK, I made it to third base."

The Twins relinquished a 2-1 lead in the eighth, when Duke gave up a game-tying RBI single to Sandy Leon with two outs. That spoiled a strong outing from right-hander Jose Berrios, who held the high-powered Boston lineup in check, allowing one run on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. After scuffling in early May, Berrios has found his form, going 4-1 with a a 2.34 ERA over his last seven starts, lowering his ERA to 3.38.

Video: BOS@MIN: Berrios fans 6 over 6 1/3 strong frames

"I went in there and tried to be as aggressive as possible," Berrios said. "My slider was working, my fastball, my changeup. All my pitches were working."

Berrios' lone mistake came in the sixth, when he gave up a solo homer to Rafael Devers on a 2-1 changeup. But Berrios worked out of several early jams, including stranding two runners in both the first and fourth innings. He also had a runner reach third with one out in the third, but escaped trouble with a strikeout of Andrew Benintendi and a groundout from Xander Bogaerts on a nice sliding play from shortstop Ehire Adrianza.

Video: BOS@MIN: Adrianza saves a run with slick sliding stop

Molitor was impressed by Berrios' ability to escape jams, despite the right-hander not having his best stuff early.

"I think those are the little things we're seeing," Molitor said. "I've been really happy to see those areas of his game where we're seeing the step forward. That's what separates the really good guys from the OK guys."

Video: BOS@MIN: Molitor talks impressive win over Red Sox

Sale didn't allow a hit until a slow roller from Adrianza with two outs in the fifth, but the Red Sox's ace was hurt by Escobar's two-run double in the sixth. Ryan LaMarre sparked the rally with a leadoff single before Joe Mauer was plunked to put two on with nobody out. Rosario grounded into a fielder's choice, but it set the stage for Escobar, who ripped a 1-1 slider that was down and out of the zone down the left-field line to plate a pair of runs.

"When Mollie went to the mound, he said, 'Hey, you're hitting the ball off the bounce?'" Escobar said with a laugh about his first double. "It's unbelievable, man. You know this guy. Every pitch is nasty. I guess I made good contact."

Video: BOS@MIN: Hildenberger K's Martinez, strands 2 RISP

Reliever Trevor Hildenberger got out of a jam with two runners in scoring position and two outs in the seventh, striking out J.D. Martinez, while closer Fernando Rodney threw a scoreless ninth to preserve the win in a non-save situation.

"That's what you want -- you want to be the guy that comes in and faces the middle of the order and tries to put out the fire," Hildenberger said. "It was exciting to get that opportunity, and to put up a zero was huge for us."

SOUND SMART
Escobar has the second-most doubles before the All-Star break in club history, trailing only Chuck Knoblauch's 37 in 1994. The Twins have 25 games remaining until the All-Star Game. Knoblauch finished the strike-shortened season with 45 doubles in 109 games and is the last Twins player to lead the Majors in doubles in a season. Minnesota's record for doubles in a season is 47, set by Justin Morneau in 2008.

Video: Escobar on his night at the plate and 2018 as a whole

HE SAID IT
"It's automatic. If he doesn't have a double a day, it's like a disappointment right now. He's unbelievable. He always finds a barrel. Even if the guy is throwing 100 [mph] at the top of the zone, he's going to put the barrel on the ball. He's pretty locked in right now. He's in a good space. I hope he makes the All-Star team. He should. So should Rosario and Berrios, too. They all put forth great performances today in a game we needed." -- Hildenberger, on Escobar's propensity for hitting doubles

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins lost a challenge in the eighth, when Grossman was thrown out at home by Bradley as he tried to tag up from third on a fly ball from Adrianza. Bradley made an impressive throw, as it registered 103.4 mph, according to Statcast™. The Twins challenged the play, but it was confirmed by replay. It was the fourth-hardest throw and third-hardest assist that has been tracked by Statcast™ since tracking began in 2015.

Video: BOS@MIN: Bradley fires home for DP, call stands

UP NEXT
Right-hander Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the second game of their three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Lynn has been pitching better recently, posting a 3.20 ERA over his last eight starts. Boston will start lefty David Price (8-4, 3.76), the first of two straight former Cy Young Award winners the Twins will face.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Eduardo Escobar