Edwin Escobar has not had an easy go of it in the Pacific Coast League, but the 22-year-old lefty is convinced the hard times are behind him. The way he pitched Wednesday, it's easy to believe him.
"I've been working on a lot and there have been ups and downs," said the Giants' No. 2 prospect. "I've figured it out so that I'm working to stay consistent with my mechanics. I felt much better tonight, because I was repeating my mechanics with every pitch."
Escobar (3-8) tossed five scoreless innings, scattering three hits and four walks while striking out three in Triple-A Fresno's 6-2 loss to visiting Sacramento. He made 89 pitches -- 51 for strikes -- and lowered his PCL ERA from 5.31 to 5.06.
"Everything was working. My fastball, my changeup, and my slider was good too," said the native of La Sabana, Venezuela.
The outing is just Escobar's second shutout appearance this year, and very early in the game that possibility was under threat. The River Cats' Jake Elmore doubled with one out in the first inning, and he moved to third on a wild pitch with two out. Escobar fanned Daric Barton to strand the runner.
"That felt very good because I've been working hard at just trying to get the most outs I can and throw the most innings I can," said MLB.com's No. 77 prospect overall, "So in that inning with a runner in scoring position, I wanted really [badly] to get that strikeout and get out of it."
After surrendering a leadoff single to Josh Whitaker in the second, Escobar struck out Nick Buss and got Jose Martinez to bounce into a double play.
He walked three batters -- Ryan Ortiz, Elmore and Andy Parrino -- in the third, but tightroped out of the frame with two grounders and a lineout.
"I got into a little bit of trouble with the third inning, but I got out of that," Escobar said. "There were some good pitches [in the walks], but they were a little bit down, and the umpire thought they were balls. But when I miss down, it's still good for me, because I'm hitting my spots."
Whitaker again got the best of Escobar by banging a double to center field to open the fourth, but having already worked with runners aboard in each previous inning, Escobar was unfazed.
"I felt confident the whole game, so in that inning with the runner on second, I just tried to focus on getting ground balls," he said.
He got two in the inning and set down five Sacramento hitters in a row. Elmore worked a two-out walk in the fifth, but Escobar retired Parrino on a lineout to right field to end his evening.
The River Cats roughed up Escobar's replacement, Adam Reifer (5-1), for four runs on three hits and two walks over an inning's work.
Tony Abreu and Mark Minicozzi had two hits and an RBI apiece for the Grizzlies.