Blue Jays 4, Angels 0
In his first start since the no-waiver trade deadline, Escobar came within two outs of his fourth career shutout as the Blue Jays beat the Anaheim Angels 4-0 Sunday.
“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.”
General manager J.P. Ricciardi received some offers, but none of them was in the ballpark—or even close.
“The package would have to have been super for us to do that,” manager Carlos Tosca 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 just we think he’s going to get better and better.”
Escobar (7-6) has been used as a starter and reliever in five of his seven seasons with the Blue Jays, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen last season and as a rookie in 1997. He was put back in the rotation on May 18 after, ending a string of 92 consecutive relief outings, and has a 3.35 ERA since then.
“I’m very confident that he can start on a full-time basis, because of how hard as he throws and the quality of his pitches—as we saw today,” Tosca said. “He’s a big strong guy who’s in good physical condition, and he’s a good athlete.”
Escobar (7-6) gave up six hits in 8 1-3 innings. He struck out four, walked four and won for only the second time in nine starts.
Scot Shields (2-2) made his third start of the year and first since losing 7-1 at Toronto on May 3. The right-hander, inserted into the rotation when Kevin Appier was released on Wednesday, allowed four runs and nine hits in five-plus innings and struck out a career-high eight.
“I felt I had decent stuff, but four runs in five-plus innings doesn’t get the job done,” Shields said. “Hopefully, the next time I have that kind of stuff, I can go out there and get a W out of it. I was going as hard as I could from the first pitch. If I go out there and try and pace myself, then I’m not giving 100 percent. So I have to give everything I have on every pitch.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he would limit Shields to 70-90 pitches, depending on how effective he was. Bobby Kielty drove Shields’ 91st and last pitch into the right-field corner for an RBI double. Francisco Rodriguez retired the next two batters before allowing a two-run single by Orlando Hudson that increased Toronto’s lead to 4-0.
Rookie shortstop Alfredo Amegaza made a diving stop and started a double play that robbed Vernon Wells of an RBI single in the Toronto first, and Shields struck out the side in the second. But Toronto broke on top in thefourth on Wells’ leadoff double and an RBI single by Greg Myers.
The Blue Jays took the season series 7-2—reversing last year’s result—and won five games in Anaheim for only the second time in their 27-year history. They were 5-1 in 1980. … The defending World Series champions have been shut out eight times, equaling last season’s total. … The Blue Jays have won consecutive games for the first time since July 17-18 at Boston—and only the second time since June 26-27 against Baltimore. They are 25-30 since setting a franchise record for wins in May with 13. … Shields became the eighth pitcher to start a game for the Angels this season, matching last year’s total. … As a starter this year, Escobar is 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA on the road, but only 2-5 with a 4.82 ERA at SkyDome. … The Angels (53-57) are four games under .500 for the second time. They were 13-17 after an 8-2 loss at Toronto on May 4. … Angels 3B Troy Glaus spent his 27th birthday on the disabled list because of an injured right shoulder that has kept him out of the last 13games.