Tigers continue to chip away in Game 5 against Red Sox

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The Tigers are inching closer to the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS.

After Jon Lester walked Victor Martinez to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, he bounced back by striking out Jhonny Peralta swinging. However, Omar Infante followed with a bloop single which dropped in front of a diving Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, which was enough for John Farrell to pull Lester in favor of Junichi Tazawa. The pitching change didn’t pay immediate dividends, as Brayan Pena knocked in Martinez with an RBI single to left-center, but Tazawa was able to get Austin Jackson to ground into an inning-ending double play to prevent any further damage. Dustin Pedroia made a nice turn at second base in order to make it happen.

The Red Sox lead the Tigers by the score of 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning.

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.