Escobar looks to build on his strong effort as the Blue Jays continue a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at SkyDome.
Escobar, rumored to be a hot commodity prior to July 31, survived the deadline and took the ball Sunday at Anaheim. Having managed just one win in his previous eight outings, Escobar was brilliant, surrendering six hits over 8 1-3 innings in a 4-0 win over the Angels.
“I’m very happy that nothing happened and that I’ll be able to stay here,” Escobar said. “I was worried because this has been my only organization in my whole career. But the trade talk was all over the place in the newspapers and the TV, so it made you think about it.”
Manager Carlos Tosca also expressed relief over holding on to Escobar.
“The package would have to have been super for us to do that,” he said. “I think someone would have had to really sweep us off our feet, because he’s too good a pitcher. He’s proven that he’s got the stuff to be a No. 2 starter, despite his limited experience, and we just think he’s going to get better and better.”
The Rangers greeted Corey Thurman with three first-inning homers en route to a 5-3 win in Friday’s series opener. Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira and Laynce Nix cleared the wall in the first as Texas won for the seventh time in nine games.
“I’d prefer to stay, but a decision hasn’t been made,” said Palmeiro, who initially blocked the deal prior to last week’s non-waiver trade deadline. “I’m leaning toward staying here. I definitely want to stay.
“It takes time. It’s my right to think it over.”
The Blue Jays have dropped three of four to slip below .500.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 20 GB, AL West. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 13 GB, AL East.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Robert Ellis (1-1, 8.18 ERA). Ellis, Texas’ 14th starting pitcher this season, earned his first win since 2001 on July 30, yielding two runs and six hits over seven strong innings in a 9-2 victory over Boston. The right-hander was hit hard for eight runs and seven hits over four innings in his first start, an 11-5 loss at Seattle on July 25. Ellis is making his first career appearance against Toronto.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Escobar (7-6, 4.03 ERA). Escobar is 0-2 with two saves and a 5.17 ERA in 17 career appearances, including two starts, against Texas.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Blalock, .322 avg.; Alex Rodriguez, 30 HRs, 85 runs and 13 SBs.; Palmeiro, 79 RBIs. Blue Jays - Vernon Wells, .307 avg.; Carlos Delgado, 32 HRs, 109 RBIs and 90 runs; Bobby Kielty, 6 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - The Rangers have hit three homers in an inning 24 times in franchise history. … 1B Palmeiro became the Rangers’ all-time leader in career at-bats Friday with his 5,658th. Ivan Rodriguez, now with Florida, held the previous mark at 5,656. … The Rangers have won six in a row at home. Blue Jays - RHP Escobar has struggled at home this year, going 2-5 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 appearances, including eight starts. … 1B Delgado belted his 32nd homer Friday, leaving him one behind AL leader Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees. … RHP Cory Lidle will miss his scheduled start Sunday because of a strained left groin.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 20-36 on the road; Blue Jays - 25-30 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - OF Juan Gonzalez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (rib), 15-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (hip), 15-day DL; RHP Ismael Valdes (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.