Escobar's got game

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - Yunel Escobar may be the closest thing the Blue Jays have to an all-star this side of Jose Bautista.

Batting in the third spot, he isn’t going to deliver a lot of power most nights. But he draws walks (third behind Bautista and Juan Rivera) and while he might strike out a bit too often, he also has some key hits.

“He’s done a good job getting on base. He’s been very steady,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. Then there is Escobar’s defence, which Farrell rates up there with any shortstop on the baseball scene. “He’s made the above-average play on a regular basis. He’s been very good, a stabilizer on the infield.”

The club encouraged him to get his throws off quicker and perhaps curtail the penchant for turning the ordinary into flashy. “I think, he feels at ease with who he is. We haven’t taken away his personality as a shortstop. Because of that relaxation he feels in the clubhouse and on the field, defensively he’s been outstanding. He’s comfortable and not looking over his shoulder; just making the play in front of him.”

HEADS OR TAILS

Jon Rauch blew his first save in six chances Tuesday but Farrell says it doesn’t mean he won’t get the ball again in that situation. Rauch and Frankie Francisco will be closers-in-tandem, depending on the situation. “All along we felt Frankie has weapons to attack left-handers a bit more regularly. Their track records bears that out,” said Farrell.

DRAMA KINGS

Just hours after B.J. Upton’s walkoff homer beat the Jays Tuesday, his brother Justin hit an eighth-inning homer to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies; the first time brothers hit game-winning home runs on the same day since Sept. 28, 1996, when it was done by Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar and Baltimore’s Roberto Alomar ... In four games in Las Vegas, Travis Snider is batting .538 (13 AB, 7 hits, 6 walks) ... LHP Brett Cecil is 1-1, 10.64 since being demoted.


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