Third baseman Yunel Escobar did little to endear himself to Angels fans last week during a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees in New York.
On Monday, he jogged out of the batter’s box on a routine grounder to second base. When Starlin Castro fumbled the ball, Escobar accelerated, then slowed again, and was thrown out by a step.
The next day, with two on and one out, Chase Headley chopped a potential double-play grounder to third. Escobar fielded the ball, jogged a few feet to tag the bag and took two steps toward the visiting dugout without throwing to first, a rather clear indication he thought he had recorded the third out of the inning.
But Escobar gained a measure of redemption Saturday night after closer Huston Street gave up three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth inning, blowing a three-run lead for only the fourth time in his career.
After Brendan Ryan singled and took second on Jett Bandy’s sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the ninth, Escobar blooped a run-scoring single to center field to give the Angels a 4-3 walk-off win over the Indians and snap a five-game losing streak.
“It was a very important hit for me, especially trying to win the fans, to let them know who I am and what I’m capable of doing,” Escobar, acquired from Washington last December, said through an interpreter. “The team needed a win, and this was a good step forward.”
Escobar, who bats leadoff, has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters, with a .312 average, .361 on-base percentage, 15 doubles, 28 runs and 18 runs batted in.
Off the hook
Manager Mike Scioscia pulled Matt Shoemaker after eight scoreless, three-hit, 11-strikeout innings Saturday night, saying he thought the right-hander, whose pitch count stood at 108, “was at a point where he was going to be at risk.”
“You get around 100 pitches, your body, your arm starts to get a little tired, whether you feel it or not,” Shoemaker said. “That’s why we have managers, to control those things. Of course, I always want to go back out there, but a lot of times, it’s the right decision to put a new guy in there.”
Tim Lincecum, in his third and likely final triple-A start before joining the Angels rotation next weekend, gave up one hit over seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking one, for Salt Lake against Fresno on Sunday.
Lincecum, the former San Francisco Giants star who signed with the Angels for $2.5 million in May, spent much of the outing honing his off-speed and breaking pitches. He had a no-hitter through five innings, and of his 89 pitches, 57 were strikes.
Scioscia said the Angels will likely add a reliever from the minor leagues on Monday. The bullpen has thrown 31 innings in the last eight games. …
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons (left-thumb surgery) played his third game for triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday and is expected to be activated early this week. …
Left fielder Daniel Nava (left groin strain) began a rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Inland Empire on Sunday.