Espinosa snaps out of long funk with first homer in 50 days

BALTIMORE - It's been a long summer for Danny Espinosa, one that began with perhaps the best sustained stretch of his career but then devolved into another prolonged slump that made the earlier success feel like ancient history.

Back on July 3, the Nationals shortstop was in the middle of what must have felt like a dream: A weekend series against the Reds that included five homers, 15 RBIs and as much goodwill as Espinosa had received in a long time.

That was the last time he homered. Until last night, when lightning finally struck again.

Espinosa's solo homer off Orioles reliever Mychael Givens snapped a drought that lasted 50 days and 154 plate appearances. It didn't lead the Nationals to victory, but it was a welcome sight for them.


"I mean, he's been swinging for it," manager Dusty Baker said.

Baker didn't necessarily mean that in a positive way. Espinosa tends to fall into these long-term traps when he starts trying to hit the ball out of the park too much. He tries to pull everything. He takes long, loopy swings. And the end result usually isn't positive.

Last night's homer, though, provided encouragement, not because Espinosa finally homered again, but because he did it on a towering drive to the opposite field.

"And it was an easy swing," Baker said. "Hopefully he can patent that swing and remember it, and hopefully he's going to get hot."

Espinosa has a long way to go before he proves he's over the hump. In those 50 days between home runs, he hit .165 with a .270 on-base percentage, .203 slugging percentage and 53 strikeouts.

For longtime Espinosa doubters, it provided plenty of ammunition and reason to argue his great June was an anomaly.

That may yet prove to be true. But if Espinosa is able to flip a switch and become an offensive threat again, he may look back on last night's homer as the turning point.

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