It took a while, but the first ever interleague matchup on Opening Day is in the books. In a four-hour and 45-minute marathon, the Angels topped the Reds 3-1 in 13 innings this evening at Great American Ballpark.
While the hyped trio of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to go 1-for-14 with three walks, catcher Chris Iannetta did the heavy lifting for the Angels’ offense. After smacking a solo home run off Johnny Cueto in the top of the third inning, he eventually broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run single off J.J. Hoover in the 13th.
Jered Weaver gave up just one run on two hits over six innings in his fourth consecutive Opening Day assignment. Garrett Richards, Sean Burnett, Kevin Jepsen, Scott Downs, Mark Lowe and Ernesto Frieri then combined to allow just one hit and three walks over seven shutout innings of relief. Lowe got the win in his Angels’ debut while Frieri notched the save.
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.