Escobar keeps adding to impressive RBI tally

August 27th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- needs one homer to complete a rare combination of statistical gems. Yet his brilliance in the batter’s box is apparent even when he’s not relying on power.

Escobar singled to drive in a pair of seventh-inning runs Monday night for the D-backs, who outlasted the Giants, 6-4. The outcome enabled the D-backs (66-66) to leapfrog the Giants (65-66) on the fringes of the National League Wild Card race. Arizona ranks sixth among the league’s Wild Card contenders.

“This team is very dynamic,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think we’re prepared. We know we’re within striking distance and we’ll take it from there.”

With the bases loaded, two outs in the seventh inning and Arizona clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Giants switched relievers as Shaun Anderson replaced an injured Trevor Gott. Escobar mashed a 2-2 fastball to center field, scoring Carson Kelly and Tim Locastro. That hiked Escobar’s RBI total to 103, keeping him solidly among the league’s top 10 in that category.

“He [Anderson] wanted to throw me a fastball up, but he missed with it,” Escobar said. “It went down the middle, so I had to make good contact.”

Escobar’s next home run will make him the fourth switch-hitter in history to collect at least 30 homers, 20 doubles and 10 triples. This august group includes Ripper Collins (Cardinals, 1934), Mickey Mantle (Yankees, 1955) and Jimmy Rollins (Phillies, 2007).

If the Giants were to select an All-Opponents’ Team, Escobar might be on it. The third baseman has hit safely in 11 consecutive games against San Francisco, batting .386 (17-for-44) in that span.

“He’s a special guy who wants to be in the middle of all that noise,” Lovullo said.

When the music stops between one game and the next, Escobar must remain diligent. As a switch-hitter, he’s obligated to work hard since he has two batting strokes to maintain.

“People think this job is so easy. It’s not. It’s really hard,” said Escobar, whose single-season OPS from 2014-18 ranged from .618 to .824.

Escobar has helped compensate for the departure of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the D-backs’ longtime offensive machine, and the diminished production of David Peralta, who has been hampered by injuries.

Second baseman , who hadn’t played since last Tuesday, complemented Escobar by rapping three hits in four at-bats, scoring a run and driving in another.

“That’s a credit to what he does when he’s not playing,” Lovullo said.

Like Escobar, Flores also has tormented the Giants, going 11-for-17 (.647) with a double, three homers and five RBIs in his last four games against the Giants. In fact, he owns the highest all-time batting average (.387) among players with at least 100 at-bats against the Giants since they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Scrambling for offense has been only part of the D-backs’ challenge this year. On Monday, they started a rookie pitcher for the 57th time. The record-breaking hurler -- and pitcher of record -- was Alex Young (6-3), who yielded two runs (one earned) and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.

“There were a couple of innings where there was some staggering going on, but he made pitches when he had to,” Lovullo said.