Espinosa went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 1. In Game 2, he fared much better. Espinosa walked, had a groundout, hit a ball that could very easily have been extra bases if not for an amazing catch by Cardinals’ outfielder Jon Jay and smacked a clean single in the eighth inning.
Overall, the second baseman is 1-for-7 with a single, walk and three strikeouts.
Johnson said Espinosa will be fine and should react better being back home in Nationals Park, as he expects all of his hitters to do.
“Yes, he is a young hitter,” Johnson said. “He has made a lot of strides this year. He is aggressive, has tons of talent. He needs to stay within himself. He has made a lot of strides this year. The conditions in St. Louis were pretty tough.”
The sun-and-shadow conditions at Busch Stadium and the Cardinals pitchers didn’t help matters any.
“To a man, our hitters had trouble picking up the spin of the ball,” Johnson said. “That, combined with a little inexperience, you can be a little overly aggressive. I don’t hold that against him.”
Johnson said Espinosa has the confidence to get the big hit and wants to be put into that game-changing situation, and that is the kind of hitter he wants at the dish.
“He always feels like he is the right guy at the right time to do something,” Johnson said. “A lot of times, he does. It is just that inexperience and being overly aggressive. He needs to be more patient. I think you will see a different hitter here. They are more comfortable here. They track the ball better here.”
The numbers are in Espinosa’s favor a bit at home, with a .254 batting average, compared to .241 on the road. But the home/away splits actually favor his hitting away from home: home runs seven/10, slugging percentage .388/.416, on base-slugging .712/.721 and strikeouts 91/98.
Espinosa hit .264 in the second half of the season, compared to .232 before the All-Star break. But his average has dipped to .243 since Sept. 1 and he has struck out 71 times since Aug. 1.