Escobar makes another mistake in Brewers loss
A day after Escobar, the rookie shortstop, made two costly errors that could impact the playoff hopes of the Milwaukee Brewers, he committed a crucial error that helped the San Francisco Giants break open a tight game and take the series opener, 6-1, Monday afternoon as clouds sat above Miller Park, making those infamous shadows a non-factor all game. Still, the Brewers went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded a dozen runners.
Escobar committed two errors in the third inning Sunday, leading to a big inning for the St. Louis Cardinals and causing right-hander Yovani Gallardo to keep pitching when he shouldn’t have been. He eventually strained his left oblique later in the inning.
It was a four-run seventh inning that sealed the Brewers’ fate Monday, and that was helped along by Escobar not being able to handle a double-play ground ball with the bases loaded and one out.
Right-hander Kameron Loe allowed two singles and a walk to load them but got Freddy Sanchez to hit a ball at Escobar for what should have been a perfectly timed double play. When Escobar got to it, he couldn’t corral the ball in his glove and it bounced away. By the time he recovered and tried to at least get the force out at second base, it was too late. The run scored to break a 1-1 tie, and the bases stayed loaded.
A double play would have gotten the Brewers out of the inning without a run scoring. Instead, Aubrey Huff knocked in two more runs with a single and Sanchez eventually scored on a wild pitch by Zach Braddock to extend the Giants’ lead to 5-1.
“The big play was the ground ball,” manager Ken Macha said. “It looked like we were going to get a double play and get out of the inning.”
Escobar, whose 14 errors lead the team and are second most among National League shortstops, said he took his eye off the ball to check the runner before he secured it.
“That’s why I dropped the ball,” Escobar said. “There was a chance for a double play.
“I don’t want to think about that because the next day they (can) hit a lot of ground balls to the shortstop, and I don’t want to drop (any more). ... I feel bad because a double play is three outs, and the game is still tied.”
Escobar entered the season as the organization’s top prospect, according to Baseball America magazine, and much of that ballyhooed reputation was built on the defensive side. Escobar has long awed scouts with his range, glove and arm.
One of the knocks on Escobar defensively has been his occasional lack of focus. Infield coach Willie Randolph has been working with Escobar on that phase and had talks with the rookie after Sunday’s and Monday’s errors.
“Willie has been working on him,” Macha said. “He doesn’t want him to A) lose confidence, and B) you got to be focused on every play. Every play is important. Every out is important.
“That’s a work in progress. Just because he’s had a couple errors here lately doesn’t mean he’s not making progress.”