Escobar will look to follow his best outing of the season with another solid effort when the Blue Jays begin a three-game interleague series with the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, Escobar pitched his third career shutout, allowing just four hits in a 5-0 victory. The 27-year-old right-hander walked only one and did not allow a runner to advance past second base.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Escobar, who struggled with a 7.08 ERA in dual roles as closer and middle man before being given a chance to start. “I just threw the best game of my life. I threw some pitches that were down the middle. Sometimes you pay for those. It was just my day.”
As Escobar tries to deliver another quality start, the Blue Jays will look to extend their winning streak to five games.
On Thursday, the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 5-4 victory. Carlos Delgado increased his major league-leading RBI total to 74 with a two-run single, helping Toronto move seven games above .500 for the first time since May 7, 2001.
The Blue Jays will look to take advantage of the Sammy Sosa-less Cubs. Sosa has five more games to serve on his seven-game suspension for using a corked bat.
The Cubs are 1-1 without their cleanup hitter, who can return to the lineup on June 18. On Thursday, they lost for the first time in five games, 6-1 to the Baltimore Orioles.
STANDINGS: Cubs - 1st place (tied), NL Central. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 1 GB, AL East.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Kerry Wood (5-4, 2.96 ERA). Wood pitched extremely well on Saturday, breaking a three-start losing streak in a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees. He gave up one run and three hits while striking out 11 over 7 2-3 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander has struck out at least 10 in each of his past three starts. Wood will be making his first start against the Blue Jays.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Escobar (3-3, 4.60 ERA). In four starts prior to Sunday’s blanking of Cincinnati, Escobar was 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA. He has never faced the Cubs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Cubs - 6-3; Blue Jays - 6-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - LF David Kelton, who was 4-for-9 in his first two major league games, did not play Thursday. … When the Cubs allow fewer than four runs this season, they are 31-5. … OF Troy O’Leary is batting .235 (4-for-17) in his career against RHP Escobar. Blue Jays - The Blue Jays optioned C Ken Huckaby and RHP Josh Towers to Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. … 1B Delgado has at least one RBI in eight consecutive games and a total of 17 in that span. … 2B Hudson, who went 1-for-3 on Thursday, has hit safely in eight of his last nine games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 18-13 on the road; Blue Jays - 17-14 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - INF Hee Seop Choi (concussion), 15-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - INF Eric Hinske (hand), 15-day DL; OF Shannon Stewart (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.
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