Rays roar back with six in eighth, trail Yankees 7-6

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The Rays finally got to the Yankees’ eighth and ninth pitchers of the night.

After being held to two hits over seven scoreless innings, the Rays came back with six runs off Boone Logan and Luis Ayala in the bottom of the eighth tonight.  Evan Longoria’s three-run homer was the big blast.

The Rays also scored twice without hits: Ayala walked Sam Fuld with the bases loaded and then plunked Sean Rodriguez for another run.

For some reason, Joe Girardi left Ayala in to finish the inning.  Except for starter Dellin Betances, who faced nine batters, none of the Yankees’ eight pitchers had faced more than five batters.  That is until the terribly ineffective Ayala got to face seven.

Maybe Girardi hates the Red Sox, too.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.