Alcides Escobar is off to a hot start, and Sunday, he managed to turn up the heat even more.
The veteran infielder had five hits, including three doubles, with two RBIs and two runs scored as Triple A Charlotte routed Norfolk, 14-3, at Harbor Park.
Video: Escobar collects his fifth hit for Knights
"Five hits? Never," Escobar said of his past history in the game. "A long time ago, I remember getting four hits in a game, but never five. And three doubles -- no, I do not remember that either."
Actually, the La Sabana, Venezuela, native did have two five-hit games on the Minor League résumé entering Sunday -- July 25, 2009 for Triple-A Nashville and Aug. 16, 2007 with Class A West Virginia. Less than a month after the feat in the Pacific Coast League, he was called up to The Show. His first four-hit game in the big leagues was for the Brewers on Sept. 16, 2009 against the White Sox, his current employer.
Escobar, who has spent 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, has hit in seven consecutive games, going 13-for-31 (.419) over that span. He has six multi-hit games this season.
Signed by Milwaukee as an amateur free agent in 2003, Escobar and Lorenzo Cain were part of the offseason trade in 2010 that sent Zack Greinke from the Royals to the Brewers. Five years later, Escobar and Cain were American League All-Stars and played pivotal roles as Kansas City won the 2015 World Series.
A free agent after the 2018 season, Escobar signed with Baltimore on Feb. 16, but was released on March 20. The White Sox inked the one-time Gold Glove infielder on March 25.
Gameday box score
Coincidentally, Norfolk serves as Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate. In four games against the Tides, Escobar has gone 10-for-17 with five doubles, five RBIs and three runs.
"I knew [the Orioles] let me go in Spring Training," Escobar said. "I hit good in every game against those guys.
"I understand the situation. Everybody knows I'm ready. I'm here, working hard. I'm ready to go back [to the Major Leagues]."
Charlie Tilson led off the game with a single before Escobar doubled to right field off right-hander Lucas Long. White Sox No. 12 prospect Zack Collins lofted a one-out sacrifice fly to left to score Tilson.
Christopher Bostick and Austin Wynns answered with RBI singles for the Tides in the second.
In the third, Charlotte scored six times to begin salting away the game. Escobar lined his seventh double of the season to left off Long and Chicago's No. 22 prospect Seby Zavala added a two-run double against lefty reliever Luis Ysla.
Escobar singled to left against the southpaw with one out in the fourth. He was cut down for the third out of the inning as he attempted to score from second on an RBI single by Nicky Delmonico.
Leading off the sixth against righty Tanner Chleborad, Escobar singled and later scored on a two-run double by Collins. Delmonico followed with a two-run homer over the right-field wall to push Charlotte's advantage to 12-2.
Jace Peterson's sacrifice fly to score Chance Sisco accounted for Norfolk's final run in the bottom of the sixth.
Delmonico swatted his second long ball to right in the eighth and Ryan Goins tacked on an RBI double to round out the Knights' scoring in the two-run eighth.
Escobar, who grounded out in the seventh, greeted righty Matt Wotherspoon with a double to left to open the ninth. He advanced to third on a groundout but was stranded after back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame.
"I'm feeling good," said the 32-year-old, who averaged 154 games the past nine seasons in the big leagues. "I'm waiting for a pitch in the strike zone and hitting it well."
With a .976 career fielding percentage, the veteran's presence is welcomed in Charlotte.
2019 MiLB include
"Right now, I'm working with the young guys in the infield -- do this, do that. I'm here to help my teammates," he said. "I'm working to be ready when I get the call."
Six Knights posted multiple hits to pace the 21-hit attack, including five by Escobar, four by Goins, three for Tilson and Delmonico, and two for Daniel Palka and Preston Tucker. Charlotte batters combined for nine extra-base hits -- seven two-baggers and two round-trippers.
Jordan Guerrero (1-1) earned the win for Charlotte, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
The Knights have won five of six and lead the International League South with 12 wins, tied with Lehigh Valley for most in the league.