“You no mas amigo.”
And now in first place in the American League Central…it’s the Kansas City Royals. In a showdown between the two MLB teams with the largest compliment of Venezuelan players, the men from Missouri have ripped off a 9-game winning streak to pass the Tigers of Detroit.
I like the Royals—they play good defense and featured three Gold Gloves in the field in 2013. Alcides Escobar is smooth at short, he’s now partnered at second by veteran Omar Infante. Perhaps the most promising of all is the young catcher Salvador Perez, who won his first Gold Glove last season at age 23. Tonight, as they passed the Tigers, Escobar and Infante helped to turn 4 double plays. (to be completely fair, Perez had a passed ball, and Escobar also committed an error).
I don’t know why Escobar (born in La Sabana) isn’t getting more consideration as an All Star this season—he went 3 for 5 against Max Scherzer on Tuesday, and he’s batting .295 whether he hits first, eighth or ninth. His average is back up where it should be after a somewhat disappointing offensive campaign in 2013 at .234. This will be his fifth full season, and he won’t turn 28 until December. He’s not even in the top five in the popularity contest that is the All Star balloting, despite having stolen 17 of 18 bases and making several eye-popping defensive plays. Comically, after making an excellent play to rob Derek Jeter of a hit in a close-fought 2-1 win over the Yankees, Escobar related what Jeter said to him via the MLB.com website:
“When Derek Jeter came back to second base, he said: ‘You no mas amigo. No more friends.’ “
As for Perez, he was Rookie of the Year in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2013 for the Tiburones (Sharks) de La Guaira, after an All-Star and Gold Glove season in Kansas City. I see a big contract in the future for the big kid from Valencia. He wears the #13 popularized by VZ legend David Concepcion of Ocumare de la Costa in the 1970s with the Cincinnati Reds.
Omar Infante of Puerto la Cruz turned 32 over the winter, signed with the Royals, and is back at full strength after a minor-league rehab stint. The man who played many of his 1200-plus big league games for Detroit seems to relish playing against them and had two great games—2 for 5 last night against Justin Verlander and 3 RBI tonight against Max Scherzer. It should be noted that the Royals put up an 11-spot both nights against two very good pitchers.
Yes, the team from KC can play a little D, but now their bats are waking up, too. Wouldn’t it be a shame if they weren’t well represented at the All Star Game?