Cecchini's walk-off backs Escobar's gem

Red Sox prospect delivers in 10th after lefty takes shutout into ninth

Edwin Escobar has 27 strikeouts through six starts with Pawtucket. (Louriann Mardo-Zaya/Pawtucket Red Sox)

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | September 3, 2014 9:38 PM ET

Edwin Escobar nearly completed what's become known as a "Maddux" -- a complete-game shutout on fewer than 100 pitches. Instead, he had to settle for a stellar, but not spotless, postseason performance. Either way, it was good enough for the PawSox.

The Red Sox's No. 9 prospect was one out away from a shutout when he allowed a solo homer to Brandon Laird. The long ball didn't undo Pawtucket, though, as the PawSox walked off with a 2-1, 10-inning victory over Syracuse in Game 1 of the best-of-5 International League semifinal series.

Garin Cecchini -- the Red Sox's No. 4 prospect -- ended the deadlock in the 10th, singling up the middle with the bases loaded and nobody out. The grounder scored Bryce Brentz, who led off the inning with a double to left.

Escobar looked poised to put down the Chiefs in scoreless fashion, working 8 2/3 dominant innings. The final out he recorded, a swinging strikeout of Nationals No. 3 prospect Michael Taylor, came on a fastball clocked at 95 mph, which is at the high end of what Escobar is capable of reaching.

A batter later, however, Escobar's bid for a shutout was spoiled on his 99th pitch. That offering was drummed to left-center field by Brandon Laird, clearing the fence and knotting the score at 1-1.

"Escobar was phenomenal," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "We had to try to let him finish that game because of what he was doing and how off-balanced the hitters were. I thought he did a terrific job."

The left-hander, acquired in July with reliever Heath Hembree from the Giants for Jake Peavy, struck out seven while scattering six hits. He was outstanding in the middle frames, facing the minimum over innings three through seven. The lone baserunner in that stretch was Jhonatan Solano, who singled but was erased on a double play.

Boles said the biggest difference for Escobar on Wednesday was the effectiveness of his breaking ball.

"I thought he was able to utilize his breaking ball down and in on right-handed hitters, get their feet moving a little bit, and then he was able to pitch with his fastball away," the manager said. "They weren't really comfortable in there. He'd show them in early, and then he had some finish with the breaking ball with two strikes. He was very unpredictable tonight."

Chiefs' starter Taylor Hill matched Escobar through five innings but allowed a leadoff homer to Red Sox No. 19 prospect Travis Shaw in the sixth. The 25-year-old right-hander yielded seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Taylor was hitless with three strikeouts for Syracuse but turned in a diving grab with runners on in the third.

Game 2 is Thursday night in Pawtucket.

In other International League action:
Columbus 9, Durham 4

Kyle Davies struck out nine over six innings and the Clippers strung together 12 hits in a series-opening win over the Bulls. The big league veteran allowed three runs on six hits, including a homer by Jeremy Moore, but did not issue a walk. Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored out of the leadoff spot for Columbus, which got home runs from David Murphy, Matt Carson and James Ramsey. Gameday box score

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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