Escobar comes within out of one-hitter

Augusta left-hander collects nine K's, out short of shutout

By Andrew Pentis / Special to | August 19, 2012 5:20 PM ET

After the 20th and best start of this 20-year-old's season, there was little time to enjoy it with his 20-something teammates.

"We are on a road trip, we are going to Greenville," Augusta's Edwin Escobar said from his cell phone. "We will celebrate on the bus with my teammates."

An hour earlier in Charleston, S.C., the Giants left-handed prospect pitched a career-high 8 2/3 one-hit innings in the Class A GreenJackets' 4-0 shutout of the RiverDogs.

Escobar (6-7) struck out nine and recorded 10 outs on the ground. He threw 75 of his 109 pitches for strikes and faced one over the minimum 27 batters.

"I was working with everything -- fastball, breaking pitch, changeup," said Escobar, who silenced a lineup that included two of the Yankees' top 10 prospects in shortstop Cito Culver and third baseman Dante Bichette. "I was focused from the pregame stretch [forward]."

A relative of Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar and Major League pitcher Kelvim Escobar, Escobar retired the first nine batters he faced before center fielder Eduardo Sosa singled on a 1-1 inside fastball to start the fourth. Sosa's line drive was just out of the reach of right fielder Devin Harris.

"[Harris] slid to try to get it," Escobar said. "He made a good attempt, did the best he could."

Escobar retired his next 17 before walking Sosa, his final hitter, on seven pitches with two outs in the ninth.

"In that situation, I got a little bit tired," he said. "I dropped my elbow down."

But what about his first professional complete game?

"I wish," he said, "but I did the best I could."

Reliever Kyle Vazquez retired Culver for the final out.

Escobar lowered his season ERA to 3.24 and has 107 strikeouts in 114 innings -- all career bests. The Venezuela native is wrapping up his fourth campaign, third in San Francisco's organization -- he was traded from Texas on April 1, 2010. He credited altered mechanics, specifically his new arm slot, as the biggest reason for his success.

The left-hander bested his single-game high in innings (7 2/3 frames at Rome on June 9) and fell one shy of his strikeout mark (10 against Greeneville on June 15).

"This is the best start of my career," Escobar said. "This is my very first year in my career that everything has been working."

RiverDogs starter Philip Wetherell (5-8) gave up two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 frames.

Augusta has won three consecutive games; Charleston has lost three straight.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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