The Rays Tank: Oh, Yunel

Safe, eh? - Tom Szczerbowski

Last year? Homophobic slurs on his eye black. This year? Home run celebrations that may have gone a tad too far.

The Rays entered the ninth inning yesterday down 7-3 to the Blue Jays. Luke Scott bunted a single, then Yunel Escobar came to the plate and crushed a two-run homer out of Rogers Centre.

While rounding the bases, Escobar took quite the leisurely stroll, and as he crossed home plate proceeded to stop and make an exaggerated safe motion with his arms to the crowd. Escobar had received a roar of boos each time he was up to bat in his first appearance back in Toronto against his former team, and apparently felt the need to express his pleasure at his two-run home run.

According to Escobar, he does the safe motion after each home run he hits, not just during this incident. CBS Sports did some digging, and discovered that this is indeed true:

TOR@TB: Escobar ties game with solo homer in seventh (via MLB)

Though this appears to be the case, Joe Maddon hadn't noticed before, and was not pleased by the gesture:

"I love him on this team. I love him in the clubhouse. I love everything about this young man," Maddon said, "but I still want to talk to him about the reaction after the home run, and I'm certain you're not going to see that again."

Escobar said that he would happily talk to Maddon, defending that it had nothing to do with that game in particular:

"I don't want it to be something more than that," Escobar said. "It's something that I do every time I cross home plate." ... "I'm going to explain to him that I do that every time. I'll be here to talk to him about it. I just care about the team winning games."

Former teammate, and the opposing pitcher for his home run, Casey Janssen did not think that it was in any way directed towards him:

"I don't think it was directed at me. We were good teammates. I had no problem with him. He had no problem with me. I did hear the chorus of boos and I'm sure he was a little frustrated at times. He's an emotional guy, he's a prideful guy. It was his moment to shine and he did his thing."

This isn't the first time Escobar has caused some controversy: last year, while with the Blue Jays, he wore eye black only twice, and both times displayed questionable messages in Spanish. The first received little attention on August 29th against the Yankees, while the second on September 15th accumulated all sorts of bad PR, as it was found to be a homophobic slur.

It'll be interesting to see if any repercussions result from the incident, as it was much less controversial than the eye black, which resulted in a three game suspension from the Blue Jays.

For the full postgame recap, with details on Odorizzi's first major league start in a Rays uniform, check it out here.

Links:

- In case you missed it, John Sickels talked about Odorizzi yesterday right before his start. He reported that he's seen both Odor's changeup and curve be plus before, although not at the same time. We can stop looking at scouting reports once Odorizzi throws a night game that people can actually watch.

- The AL East is the only division this season to have four teams with positive run differentials; sans the Blue Jays, who have the third worst run differential in baseball: -45.

- Didn't know this existed until yesterday: the New York Times has a pretty cool feature that provides a running calculation of what MLB teams are paying their players who are on the DL.

- Aroldis Chapman blew a save because he pregamed with 18 pastries?

- "It's like watching Denzel [Washington] in a movie. Sit down. Watch the show. And enjoy.'' - Barry Bonds on Miguel Cabrera

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