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Espinosa gets the last laugh

May 17, 2011, 4:22 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Laynce Nix congratulates Danny Espinosa on the latter’s go-ahead homer.

Danny Espinosa had been through every other emotion over the last three weeks as his batting average tumbled, from frustration to anger to uncertainty about his ability to hit a baseball.

So by the seventh inning of Monday night’s game, after he had twice drilled pitches only to see Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen track them down, the Nationals’ struggling rookie second baseman with the .190 average decided there was nothing left to agonize about.

“I had to just laugh those off,” he said. “I couldn’t get angry about that. I felt like I put two good swings on the ball.”

Not as good as the swing Espinosa put on the ball the third time he stepped to the plate. This time he connected off reliever Jose Ascanio, sending the two-run homer into the right-field bullpen that sent the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh.

After pausing for just a second to admire his biggest hit in weeks, Espinosa started around the bases and couldn’t help but say to himself: “About [expletive] time.”

The Nationals might have been feeling the same way about their 24-year-old second baseman, who after a hot start to the season was
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  1. Grandstander - May 17, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    Espinosa swung at Ascanio's first pitch, a fastball down and in. And what was he thinking as he watched the ball sail over the fence?"I helped the team. That was the very first thing," he said. "The second thing was: Bad idea bringing in the righty. Because a lot of people want to do that. That puts fuel in my tank. You don't think I can hit left-handed. That puts fuel in my tank. I'm not going to get you every time. But I'm going to get you."THIS – THIS SO HARDI can't understand why Laroche can keep getting put up there by intentional walk and keep giving them what they want. Don't you care? Don't you want to make them pay for walking a guy to get to you? And then he just does what he does and strikes out or GiDP. That dude needs a chip on his shoulder in the worst way or he needs to not be batting so high.His defense is unbelievable, but even a "late starter" needs to be doing better than he is at this point.

  2. Doc - May 17, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Nicely written article MarkMeister, particlularly as it was pounded out in the early morning hours.The pitch from Ascanio was where Espi can do his best LH hitting–lower and middle out. If, over time, he can adjust to pitchers, more particularly LHs, pitching him in the high inside part of the strike zone then that .175 should significantly improve.Get angry, and then get even….way to go Danny! All the Nats should have the same kind of fire, including the big dude at 1B!

  3. josh f - May 17, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Odds on today's game being played? Forecast doesn't look friendly.

  4. Big Cat - May 17, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Good win Nats. Lets keep it going now. Pitching and defense wins. Hitting is starting to pick up. I feel a 7-8 game win streak coming. Wait'll Zim gets back! Oh yeah….good game Riggs. But you can give Kimball a day off today.

  5. Anonymous8 - May 17, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    The Kimball thing is interesting. I think Riggleman said that Kimball pitched 3 days a row in the Minors. Then I think Kimball said he always wanted to throw 3 days in a row and that was the first time he has done it. I was very surprised to see him in there. Glad it worked out in the end as giving up the game tying triple could have turned into falling behind with McCutcheon on 3rd with 1 out.All in all, I think Riggleman got real lucky all day long. Lannan was bailed out numerous times and after he came out in the 5th, 6th, and 7th, I was suprised. Why not start the inning clean with a reliever? Lannan was lucky in the 5th and fortunate in the 6th.Lannan should buy all of his fielders dinner because he got a quality start and only pegged with 2 Earned and his ERA dropped.

  6. natsfan1a - May 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Forecast sure doesn't look good. The Bucs are back here in early July. We have an off day on June 30, but they have a night game in Toronto. However, (snark on) seeing as they were so accommodating re. the Nats travel day after all the rain in Pittsburgh, maybe we can work something out (snark off).

  7. natsfan1a - May 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Oh, and the games in question are two night games followed by a day game. But who knows, maybe they'll get one in today. (What are they, ducks? Quack!)

  8. UNTERP.NAT - May 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    natsfan1a said… Forecast sure doesn't look good.But right now it's just overcast. The radar doesn't indicate rain for a 60 mile radius. Looks like game might start but showers are imminent…LaRoche needs to cut down on that swing. He's headed to under .150 the way he's swinging. LOL. Why can't this team hit? By the way, how does a team that averages 5 or 6 hits a game have nearly a .500 record?

  9. Big Cat - May 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    I too was surprised to see Kimball for the 3rd straight night. He is going to help immensely. I wish we could see more of HRod. Would like to see Riggs put him in the fire. He has Nolan Ryan type stuff when he's on. As you know I have been hard on the Sad Man but there was a play the other night where he started the runner on first and there was a ground ball which would of been a DP had Riggs not started the runner. Runner came around and scored to give us a cushion. Good job Sad Man. I watched the post game presser intently….looking for even a trace of a smile…maybe a gleam in the eye….nope nothin.

  10. JD - May 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Mark my word; LaRoche will get hot and stay hot as the weather improves; that's always been his history. Espinosa had 3 excellent at bats yesterday where he hit the ball hard. Could have easily had 2 homers and a single. At the same time this does not imply that he has 'got it' because we need to see consistency. I like him hitting 7th unfortunately there are about 5 guys who should be hitting 7th.

  11. UNTERP.NAT - May 17, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    JD said… I'm wearing the same underwear and you know why…

  12. Unkyd - May 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    UNTERP.NAT said…JD said… I'm wearing the same underwear and you know why…Oh, my….. Just so you don't soil the Pooh bears…

  13. Steve M. - May 17, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    UNTERP.NAT said… Why can't this team hit? By the way, how does a team that averages 5 or 6 hits a game have nearly a .500 record? May 17, 2011 8:58 AM Last night was a role reversal. It was Pittsburgh who blew opportunity after opportunity and almost seemed like that Brewers Friday night game where the Brewers mistakes cost them. Lannan was struggling big time and the stellar defense and over-aggressive Pirates along with timely hitting by Wilson Ramos and long balls by Hairston and Espinosa were the difference. Cole Kimball comes into a pressure situation with a man on 1st to face McCutchen. Bam, a RBI triple. Then the Pirates choke again with the infield drawn in. The ball is hit right to Desmond. How many times this year has that been the Nats stranding a runner at 3rd in the same situation?You take the "W's" as the other teams give you the opportunities. Unreal.





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