Eduardo Escobar had a double and a home run after the first two innings on Friday, so he admits a cycle was on his mind. Then he singled in the sixth inning, and the possibility became real. So when he was due up fourth in the eighth inning of a game the Twins led 6-3, he started lobbying for help on the bench.
“I told [Ehire] Adrianza to get on base so I could hit a triple … and Brian [Dozier] the same thing, and [Dozier] did,” said Escobar, who was on deck when Dozier drew a walk against Tigers reliever Victor Alcantara.
So Escobar walked up to the plate, looking for something he could rip into the right-field corner. Trouble is, Alcantara has a nasty sinker.
“I couldn’t pull the ball. That pitcher was really good,” said Escobar, who wound up lifting a harmless fly ball to left field for the third out. “But I definitely tried.”
Still, it was a memorable night for Escobar, who talked about his sadness as he plays after learning about the death of his grandfather, Marquiade Escobar, on Thursday morning, just a few hours after the Twins’ third baseman celebrated the team’s clinching of a playoff berth.
“I’m sad. Iesterday I was sad. I woke up this morning and I was still sad,” Escobar said. “It’s tough having to come to work knowing that my family is suffering, but I talked to my family and my mom this morning. They told me, ‘don’t worry, we’re handling it.’ “
He asked manager Paul Molitor for a day off Thursday, “so I could try to recover and feel better,” Escobar said of his one-day break. “It’s tough, but this is my job.”
When he crossed home plate after blasting an upper-deck homer Friday night, Escobar waved his arms, kissed his right palm, and waved at the sky, a tribute to his 79-year-old grandfather, who died of a heart attack.
“It makes me very proud being able to honor him that way. He means so much to me, and the reason why I’m here is because of him,” Escobar said. “He did so much for me and my family growing up. Being able to do that for him was fun, and now everything I do will be for him, because hopefully he’s watching and I want to make him as proud as I can.”
Brian Dozier homered and doubled, too, and matched Escobar’s three RBIs, continuing his hot second half. He now has 34 home runs, 21 of them after the All-Star break.
“You can’t say enough about how much he’s turned it on down the stretch for us,” Molitor said.
He was particularly impressed by the home run, since “it was one of those thinking at-bats,” the manager said. Tigers starter Matt Boyd “had shown him a fastball previously and backed him off the plate. I don’t know if Boyd thought he had him set up looking soft, but he tried to challenge him again.”
The ball landed deep in the stands in left-canter, his fourth homer in the last nine games against the Tigers. “Brian doesn’t get off the fastball very often,” Molitor said.
Still, the Twins had a laugh at Dozier’s expense, too. He led off the bottom of the first inning with a blast into the corner, and he sped up rounding second base, intending to stretch the hit into a triple. But about three strides beyond that bag — right around the 35-yard line, judging by the faint football stripes still visible from Saturday’s Division III college game — Dozier tripped himself and fell to the ground. He scrambled to his feet and hustled back to second base ahead of the relay.
“That was a little untypical,” Molitor said. “Looked like he just got tangled there.”
Dozier dove for an Alex Presley ground ball an inning later, throwing out his former teammate to end the inning.
“He showed the right way to go down to the ground the following inning on the defensive side,” Molitor said. “He made up for it.”