Danny Espinosa has gotten a handful of big hits this season. Not many of them have come when he’s been hitting left-handed.
The dramatic difference in Espinosa’s lefty/righty splits has been well-documented, but tonight, the Nationals second baseman came through with a monster hit in the sixth inning, plating two runs with a double to right. And the go-ahead knock came from the left side of the plate.
It gave the Nats a 4-2 lead as we go to the seventh, and put Gio Gonzalez in line for the win.
Jesus Flores got the rally started with a two-out double to left. Adam LaRoche was brought in to pinch-hit for Gonzalez, and he was intentionally walked to get to Espinosa.
Espinosa responded by smoking a ball down the line in right, bringing in both Flores and LaRoche. The second baseman gave an intense fist pump as he stood on second base and the 29,551 at Nats Park cheered their approval.
Gonzalez was pulled after six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He wasn’t at his best, but battled back from a slow start, and much like Stephen Strasburg last night, seemed to settled in after the first two or three innings.
Oh yeah, and Espinosa’s double came off none other than Joel Peralta.
He just keeps finding his name in the middle of things during this series, huh?
Update: After losing the first four games of the homestand, the Nats battled back to take the final two and get a series win over the Rays.
Tonight, it was a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. Espinosa’s tie-breaking double in the sixth proved huge, and Ryan Mattheus, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard came through in the late innings to close it out.
Clippard is now 11-for-11 in save chances since taking over as the Nats’ closer. Kind of impressive, I guess.
Gonzalez now has a 9-3 record and 2.55 ERA after his outing tonight, and Washington’s lead in the NL East is back up to 3.5 games.