On Monday night, he did some flexing in the 10th inning.
Escobar, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, connected on a 1-0 pitch from Axford (0-3), driving it over the wall in right for his first homer since June 20 and fourth of his career in 344 at-bats.
“He can swing it, we’ve all seen that,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “You watch him in batting practice, he hits them as far as anybody. It’s a big moment. It’s cool. You see the big smile on his face and everyone else.”
It was the second straight gut-wrenching loss for Axford, who gave up a three-run homer in the ninth to Chicago’s Dayan Viciedo on Sunday as the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 win. In that game, Cleveland catcher George Kottaras homered twice, becoming the first player in franchise history to homer in his first two plate appearances, and Corey Kluber struck out 13.
“Bad pitch,” Axford said of his fastball to Escobar that caught too much of the plate. “It’s unbelievable. It’s a shame that my performances have kind of taken precedence over a great hitting performance by George and outstanding pitching performances by Kluber and Zach.”
Caleb Thielbar (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth and Glen Perkins struck out two in the 10th for his eighth save.
Escobar came in for Pedro Floriman and grounded out with two runners on in the seventh. He more than atoned with his game-winning shot into the seats.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to come up with a big swing in that spot,” he said. “I’m really happy for the team more than anything else.”
The Indians, who only got two runners to second base, had been the only team in the majors not to play in an extra-inning game.
Cleveland has dropped eight of 10, and scoring is a huge issue. The Indians have scored three runs or less in 19 of their 32 games.
“We’re fairly inconsistent right now,” manager Terry Francona said. “Even in hitters’ counts, we’re not getting real good swings. I think when it’s team wide, everyone is trying to do much. It’s a good quality but we’ve got to fight through it together and keep the line moving and we’re not doing that.”
Both teams got strong efforts from their starting pitchers.