When Eduardo Escobar touches the ball, it’s expected to be a double. Even the official scorers are buying into it.
Escobar socked a 98 mile-per-hour Joe Kelly fastball to left-center in the eighth inning Tuesday night. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. misplayed the ball, and it rolled to the wall.
Two runs scored as Escobar sprinted to third. He was initially given a single, with a two-base error charged to Bradley. About an hour later, the play was revised to give Escobar a double and a mere one-base error on Bradley.
Regardless, the Twins scored four runs in the eighth — two runs on Escobar’s amended double and two more on a triple by Robbie Grossman — and pulled away to a 6-2 victory over a Boston team that was trying to become the first in the majors to win 50 games this season.
Escobar has a major league-leading 32 doubles this season and is on pace to hit a record 75. He has gotten so good at it that he is earning doubles while taking a postgame shower.
“It’s automatic,” said Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger, who got two big outs in the seventh inning to strand two Boston runners on base. “If he doesn’t have a double a day, it’s like a disappointment.”
The Daily Doubler gave the Twins a lead with each of his hits, the first one a two-run double in the sixth that put them ahead 2-1. Each time, he got up, pounded his hands together, punched the air and yelled toward his dugout.
“It’s the energy,” Escobar said. “There’s a lot of people here. You’re facing that team. It’s very exciting, especially when you are facing good pitching.”
His first double came off a Chris Sale slider that was breaking down and in on his shoe tops, but he got enough of it to send it down the left field line. The second one, off Kelly, was chest-high and just off the outside corner of the plate.
Is there a drill for hitting such pitches?
“No,” hitting coach James Rowson said, chuckling. “That’s called being an athlete.”
The Twins led 2-1 in the eighth when Sandy Leon hit a RBI single off Zach Duke to score Rafael Devers and tie the score. Duke was one strike away from getting out of the inning but gave Leon something to hit. And Leon, a righthanded hitter, was batting only .167 against lefties at the time. Starters Sale and the Twins’ Jose Berrios had dueled into the seventh inning.
Berrios was not nearly as dominant as Sale, but he pitched out of trouble repeatedly, giving up only one run — on Rafael Devers’ homer — over 6⅓ innings to keep the Twins in the game.
Sale hammered through the batting order for 4⅔ innings before giving up a hit — and even that was a squib single to third that Ehire Adrianza beat out. Sale had eight strikeouts by then and looked untouchable. In seven innings, Sale gave up two earned runs on three hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts — the fifth time he’s reached double digits in strikeouts this season
Berrios kept the game close enough for the doubles machine to come through in the clutch — and a scoring revision well after the final out.
“He’s just taking advantage of his opportunity,” Berrios said of Escobar. “He’s a talented guy. God puts a lot of talent in him, and he’s just taking advantage of it.”