Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Last night’s matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale had all the makings of a classic pitchers’ duel. But as it often happens in this game, things didn’t exactly turn out as expected.

Adam Dunn set the tone early by slugging a two-run homer off Kershaw in the top of the first inning. It was his major league-leading 23rd homer of the season and the fourth of his career against Kershaw. No other player has more than two against the 2011 National League Cy Young award winner. Kershaw ended up allowing five runs (four earned) over six innings.

Sale actually carried a four-run cushion into the bottom of the sixth, but he was chased after giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. The young southpaw was replaced by Jesse Crain, who allowed a two-run double to Elian Herrera and an RBI single to Juan Rivera which put the Dodgers in front. Sale ended up being charged with a season-high five runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was the first time he had allowed more than two runs in a start since May 12.

Even though the Kershaw-Sale matchup didn’t live up to the billing, this was still a very entertaining ballgame. After the White Sox pulled even in the top of the eighth on Alex Rios’ second homer of the night, the Dodgers took the lead in the bottom half of the frame when James Loney scampered home on a wild pitch thrown by left-hander Matt Thornton. Kenley Jansen then tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to finish off the 7-6 victory.

The Dodgers still own the best record in the majors at 41-24 and currently lead the Giants by four games in the National League West.

Your Friday box scores:

Red Sox 0, Cubs 3

Pirates 0, Indians 2

Rockies 12, Tigers 4 (10 innings)

Yankees 7, Nationals 2

Phillies 0, Blue Jays 3

Marlins 0, Rays 11

Orioles 2, Braves 4

Astros 2, Rangers 6

Brewers 5, Twins 3

Royals 3, Cardinals 2

Diamondbacks 5, Angels 0

Reds 7, Mets 3

Padres 2, Athletics 10

Giants 4, Mariners 2

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.