Yunel Escobar turned up big for the Tampa Bay Rays late in the game, driving in the go-ahead run on a double and then scoring an insurance run on a wild pitch en route to an 7-5 win over Houston that took 11 innings to decide on Thursday. Escobar was key for the Rays throughout the game going 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, driving in 3 runs, and scoring twice.
Escobar’s production defensively has been consistently solid for Tampa Bay, ranking 5th in fielding percentage among shortstops in the MLB and 8th in defensive wins above replacement (DWAR), but his production at the plate has been key. Escobar currently ranks in the top 10 among MLB shortstops in batting average, wins above replacement, and runs created per 27 outs.
Unfortunately for Rays fans, however, wins this season have been harder to come by than many expected. Offensively, Tampa Bay ranks 6th in the MLB and sports a +37 run differential, but have been let down by surprisingly inconsistent pitching, ranking 20th in the MLB in team ERA. The Rays have also failed to travel well this year, sporting a 21-22 rank in contests away from Tampa Bay.
Currently, the Rays sit fourth in the AL East with a 46-40 record, 6.5 games out from first place in the division. There is still plenty of time for the Rays to catch fire and have the type of season many expected from them this year, but they will have to improve their play on the road, as well against other teams in the AL East. They sport only a 20-24 record in contests against division foes.