“We had a conversation before the game, and I told him we were short in the pen and I needed him to be more consistent attacking the hitters,” Nava said. “He went out and gave us the best outing so far this season.”
Escobar struck out a career-high 10 batters over six innings and got a little offensive help from his catcher in a 2-1 win over the Greenville Drive.
An announced paid attendance of 5,832 fans attended the game at Lake Olmstead Stadium on Shepeard Community Blood Center Night and saw the left-handed Venezuelan allow just one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced.
“I thought today was the best his breaking ball had been,” catcher Jeff Arnold said. “The last couple of times he’s really had good command in and out with his fastball. Today (the breaking ball) was the best out pitch he had, and I think that attributed to a lot of strikeouts he had.”
Escobar left after six innings with the game tied, but Arnold provided the necessary offense. The 24-year-old catcher struck out twice in his first two at bats but drilled the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning well over the left field wall for his first home run and a 2-1 lead.
“He was looking for a pitch in the zone and took advantage of the first one he saw,” Nava said. “It’s good to see a hard worker like him get one.”
Reliever Paul Davis (3-2) took over and threw two scoreless innings to get the win. Kyle Vazquez got his third save with a perfect ninth.
The night was a struggle for several Boston Red Sox prospects. Greenville starter Noe Ramirez, making his second pro start after throwing five perfect innings in his debut, gave up one unearned run on six hits and two walks. Last year’s fourth round pick struck out three and left after four innings with a no decision.
Greenville catcher Blake Swihart, a first-round pick in 2011, took a foul tip off his throwing hand in the fourth inning that put him in obvious pain. He left the game immediately, and manager Carlos Febles said he was unsure of his status after the game.
Rehabbing Red Sox outfielder Jason Repko went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts and a walk before leaving the game in the eighth.
Greenville reliever Justin Erasmus (0-1) took the loss after giving up the home run to Arnold.