Walk this way: Escobar's patience pays off

Royals' leadoff hitter earns first free pass of season, scores

Walk this way: Escobar's patience pays off

OAKLAND -- Alcides Escobar had two singles to break out of his early-season slump, but it was a five-pitch walk by the Royals' leadoff hitter -- Escobar's first free pass of the season -- that really got things going for Kansas City in its 4-2 win over the A's on Friday night.

Escobar was batting just .214 going into the game, but collected two hits to raise his mark to .239. It was his walk off of A's starter Rich Hill that made the big difference, however.

After drawing the the game-opening walk, Escobar took second on Omar Infante's infield single, then came around to score on Lorenzo Cain's RBI single, one of two runs the Royals got in the opening frame en route to their fifth straight win at the Coliseum.

"It's amazing what he can do at the top of the lineup," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "He sets the tone for us. He really got things going for us in the first inning. Just got stuff going for the offense today and gave [starter Edinson Volquez] a nice cushion and that's all he needed."

Escobar drew 36 walks in 2010, his first full season in the Majors. He has topped 25 just twice since then.

And while the walk jump-started the Royals offense, Escobar acknowledged it wasn't easy to take pitches when he's normally a free-swinger.

"I'm an aggressive guy and a lot of times when I go to the plate I'm trying to swing the bat early," Escobar said. "Today in every at-bat I took some pitches … just take like two more pitches and let's see what happens. I felt really comfortable."

Escobar also made yet another sparkling defensive play, turning a ball deflected off the glove of Volquez into a 1-6-3 out in the fourth. It wasn't as spectacular as his over-the-shoulder catch and throw double play against Houston on Thursday, but it was a gem nonetheless.

"He's just got great baseball instincts," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's tremendously athletic and just makes those plays handily."

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.