ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Eduardo Escobar hits 2 HRs, drives in 7 runs in D-backs’ bounce-back win

May 15, 2021, 10:13 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks Eduardo Escobar celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against the Wash...
Arizona Diamondbacks Eduardo Escobar celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — It seemed like Eduardo Escobar was sick of not scoring runs.

So on Saturday night he drove home a pair in the first, hit a three-run home run in the fourth and then tacked on a two-run shot in the eighth to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 11-4 win over the Washington Nationals.

His seven RBIs were more runs than the D-backs had scored as a team over the previous three games combined.

“This night offensively was really about Eduardo Escobar,” manager Torey Lovullo said via Zoom postgame. “You’re talking about two home runs and seven RBIs in one game? That’s a great week for some people.”

On the other side, it helps when the opposing team doesn’t score 17 runs.

In Seth Frankoff’s first start since he was in the Korean League in 2019, he allowed three hits, two runs and four walks in 4.2 innings of work.

Frankoff got off to a rough start, allowing a leadoff double to Trea Turner, who advanced to third on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a ground ball.

“I think everybody saw there were some jitters there to begin with,” Frankoff said.

He settled in not long after that, though, as he didn’t allow a hit after the second inning.

Frankoff’s pitch mix worked against the Nationals despite his velocities being rather identical. Changeups and cutters tended to sit in the 86-mph range while the four-seam fastball was typically 90-91, though it ranged up to 92 and down to 89.

Nevertheless, the Nationals struggled to make good contact off his stuff, particularly the change-up and the pitch that he refers to as a cutter but the ESPN system labeled a slider.

“What makes you successful in pitching is having stuff look similar go in opposite directions,” Frankoff said. “If it’s coming in at a similar velocity and from a similar release point but it’s going opposite directions, you give yourself a better opportunity.”

Frankoff entered with three games of MLB experience — two last season and one in 2017 — and a host of overseas play that has taken him to five continents.

In his first start in the Big Leagues, he limited damage before handing it off to the bullpen.

Frankoff was pulled after he walked Juan Soto to load the bases with two outs in the fourth inning. Left-handed pitcher Alex Young came in to face Kyle Schwarber.

The southpaw threw three cutters for three strikes. The strikeout left three runners on base, and then Young was pinch-hit for in the bottom-half of the inning when there was a D-backs runner on third. Andrew Young drove the runner home.

It was a momentum-shifter. Keeping the Nationals scoreless after Escobar’s three-run home run helped the D-backs take control.

The catcher calling these pitches was Daulton Varsho, who had his first start behind the plate this season.

Even with the limited experience of both Varsho and some pitchers including Frankoff and Joe Mantiply, the latter of whom was called up Saturday, Varsho handled the game well.

“It was a little bit of a crash-landing for him last night,” Lovullo said, referring to Varsho being inserted at catcher late in the Friday loss to get some reps in anticipation of this start.

“He did a great job of following the game plan, squaring up the baseball and taking charge of some key situations.”

All in all, it was a bounce-back the D-backs needed after the 17-2 beatdown on Friday that culminated an 11-game stretch in which Arizona scored more than three runs only one time.

David Peralta hit his fourth home run of the year and Varsho went 2-for-3 at the plate.

Arizona also had the chance to play multiple players who were called up on Saturday including Mantiply, Domingo Leyba and Yoan Lopez.

“Today was a great game,” Escobar said. “It was an important win today.”

UP NEXT

The Diamondbacks host the Nationals in the rubber match of the three-game set, with a pitching matchup of Luke Weaver vs. Erick Fedde.

First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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Eduardo Escobar hits 2 HRs, drives in 7 runs in D-backs’ bounce-back win