Miami – For the first time since returning from the disabled list and one of the few times this season, shortstop Yunel Escobar looked like himself at the plate Wednesday night.
Escobar snapped out of a 3-for-35 stretch in his first 10 games back from a strained groin by going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and his first RBI since April 16. It was his first multi-hit game since April 29.
Escobar started and finished the six-run rally in the seventh inning of the Braves’ 7-3 win over the Marlins, first on an infield hit and then with a run-scoring single to left.
He got as many hits in the seventh inning as he had in the previous seven games. But Escobar said afterward, he didn’t feel that different at the plate.
“I’ve been hitting the same since I got back; I just needed to find the holes,” Escobar said with teammate Gregor Blanco interpreting. “I tried to be myself. Today I got my luck back. I’ve just got to keep playing hard and doing the little things to help the team win.”
Escobar started the season with five RBIs against the Cubs on Opening Day, but had driven in just three runs in 31 games since entering Wednesday. He is hitting .188 on the season.
This is a guy who was third in the majors (min. 100 at-bats) with a .373 average with runners in scoring position last year. He’s someone many considered to be the MVP of the Braves offense last year.
“Escobar had two hits tonight which was good and lined out once last night,” manager Bobby Cox said after Wednesday’s game. “So maybe he will get going and be a big part of the offense. He always has been. He’s been a lifetime .300 hitter, so we expect him to hit.”
Escobar has always hit well in his adopted hometown of Miami. The Cuba native raised his average Wednesday to .330 (29-for-88) with 13 RBIs in 24 career games at Sun Life Stadium, playing in front of his mother, father and sister.
Escobar had said prior to Wednesday’s game he’d tried opening his stance and raising his hands and got the same results. But he was still holding his head up.
“I haven’t lost my confidence,” Escobar said with Blanco translating. “I have a strong mind. I feel like I need to help the team, and I’m ready for it.”
Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said at times, he’d gotten pull-happy.
“I’m just trying to get him to relax, and stay up the middle and the other way,” Pendleton said. “Let the pitcher’s mistake dictate what he does with the baseball. He’s hitting balls hard. He’s had some tough luck throughout this ugly batting average. It doesn’t reflect how hard he’s hit some balls.”