Escobar aiming to improve command

In 1st MLB start, left-hander allows 7 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings

Escobar aiming to improve command

PHOENIX -- They'd seen some video of him and read the Minor League reports, but until D-backs manager Chip Hale and pitching coach Mike Butcher actually got to see Edwin Escobar pitch, they weren't sure what to expect.

Escobar made the first big league start of his career Monday afternoon and struggled with his command in an 8-3 loss to the Astros at Chase Field.

Escobar, 24, was claimed on waivers from the Red Sox on April 29, and he started five games for Triple-A Reno before getting the call to the big leagues. He also saw some big league action in 2014, when he made two relief appearances for Boston.

With starters Shelby Miller and Rubby De La Rosa on the disabled list, the D-backs needed some rotation help. Sunday it was Archie Bradley, who was called up from Reno, and Monday it was Escobar's turn.

"We saw some good things," Hale said of Escobar's D-backs debut. "I talked to Butch during the game, and it's hard that we didn't have him in Spring Training -- we picked him up on waivers when the season started, we didn't have a real good baseline with our own eyes on him. There's some stuff that needs to be refined, and Butch likes the arm. We get four days of work before he starts again, so we'll see what we can do to tighten it up a little bit. I think he's going to help us."

Escobar allowed four runs in the second, but in fairness, the Astros didn't hit the ball particularly hard against him. There was a broken-bat single and a check-swing single that sneaked down the right-field line, along with a misplay in the outfield by Michael Bourn that contributed to the damage.

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"I take it because it's part of the game, that's baseball," Escobar said of the bad luck. "I just tried to make my pitches that inning. I felt pretty good. I think I was a little bit inconsistent with my stuff. Other than that, I felt great."

Escobar wound up allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings.

Before Escobar's next start, Butcher will look to clean up the left-hander's mechanics a little. He used several different arm angles on his breaking ball, and it sounded like the D-backs want him to focus on one in particular that they thought gave him the best results.

Also, if he hopes to be an effective big league pitcher, Escobar will have to be able to use his third pitch -- a changeup -- more often.

"Pretty good fastball," catcher Welington Castillo said of Escobar. "His fastball had a lot of movement, so it's a little hard to control it. But he's got really good stuff. He just has to learn how to place the fastball, and the secondary pitch has to be there for him."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.