Check out this quote from Danny Espinosa last night when asked about how manager Davey Johnson has stuck by him this season despite his lengthy slump.
“I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t have stuck with me that long,” Espinosa said, “so it feels awesome to know that Davey’s got my back.”
Yet another reason why guys love playing for Davey Johnson.
Espinosa’s numbers from the left side of the plate haven’t really improved all that much recently. His batting average has jumped only four points (from .188 to .192) in his 24 plate appearances hitting left-handed since June 11.
But the Nationals second baseman feels his swing and approach have been better from the left side of late, and thinks he’s starting to come around against right-handed pitching. That showed when he drove in the game-winning runs with a sixth-inning double last night.
“Yeah, I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable,” he said. “I’m starting to feel like I’m getting my hands working real well. Feeling a lot better. Better pitch selection, so I feel like I’m having better at-bats.”
After last night’s win, the Nationals became the first National League team to have two nine-game winners this season. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez obviously are the two to get the Nats to that level.
The Nationals have also now won 82 percent of the time that Strasburg or Gonzalez have taken the mound (23 wins in 28 starts).
Not too shabby.
Burnett and Clippard have been exceptional lately. Burnett has the fifth-lowest ERA in the majors among relievers with at least 15 appearances, while Clippard has only allowed one hit (one hit!) and no runs since taking over the closer’s job on May 22.
Given how those two have performed, along with Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus and even a guy like Tom Gorzelanny, the Nationals’ bullpen could be pretty darn good when closer Drew Storen returns from the DL, likely just after the All-Star break. If Henry Rodriguez can find his control, that could make things even more scary for opposing hitters.
“I hope people are thinking we’re pretty scary right now,” Mattheus said. “We get Henry back throwing strikes, and he throws 100 miles an hour, he’s got some of the best stuff in the business. Drew, obviously with 43 saves last year, did a great job. So yeah, when those guys get back, it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.”