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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 05/31/2012

Danny Espinosa makes progress, feels ‘closer’ to breaking out


Danny Espinosa has been on the verge of breaking out a few times in May. In the middle of this month, Espinosa hit homers on consecutive days, backed it up with a two-hit day … and then went 3 for his next 19. Espinosa’s first prolonged hot streak may come now, as the calendar flips to June, following his manager’s plea for a new approach.

Espinosa provided an encouraging sidebar to the Nationals’ 5-3 loss Wednesday night. He went 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI single, both hits coming from the left side against Marlins ace Josh Johnson. Espinosa is one of the Nationals’ most important hitters, given the gulf between his worst and his best. Even while striking out twice, he showed signs he may finally be trending toward the latter.

“He was a lot more focused tonight,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I liked his at-bats. He crushed that ball. It’s a home run in every ballpark but here. So, we’re getting there.”

Espinosa’s belief that his left-handed swing is as good, if not better than, his right-handed swing is genuine. The numbers do not back it up, which Espinosa realizes, but he has been feeling more comfortable lately from the left side. And he never lacks for confidence.

“It’s getting closer,” Espinosa said. “It’s definitely getting closer. Timing is feeling better. I feel confident right now.”

In the second inning, batting left-handed, the side from which he entered hitting .188 this season, Espinosa took an easy swing and drilled a 1-1 fastball to deep center field. The ball would have cleared the fence in most parks, but here it caromed off the fence and bounded into the outfield. Espinosa cruised around second base and into third for a stand-up triple.

In the fourth, Espinosa gave the Nationals the lead. Adam LaRoche led off with a double into the right field corner, his fifth hit in 40 at-bats. Espinosa followed by lacing a 3-2 changeup just past first baseman Logan Morrison’s outstretched glove, into right field for a line-drive single. LaRoche trotted home, Espinosa clapped his hands at first.

“I’ve been working a lot,” Espinosa said. “Seeing it pay, it felt good.”

FROM THE POST

Jason Reid says Davey Johnson is making all the right moves.

The Nats ended a good road trip on a sour note with a 5-3 loss as Chien-Ming Wang showed rust in his first start this year.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOUNRAL

Rodriguez hurts finger oddly

Flores recovered

Morse could return Friday

Johnson on Espinosa

Purke debuts

Solano’s first hit

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 2, Louisville 1: John Lannan lowered his ERA to 5.63 by allowing one run in six innings on five hits and three walks, striking out three.

Portland 3, Harrisburg 2: Eury Perez went 3 for 3 with two steals. Mike Ballard allowed one run in six innings on five hits and no walks, striking out two.

Harrisburg 5, Portland 2: Jimmy Van Ostrand went 2 for 3.

Potomac 5, Myrtle Beach 3: Michael Morse went 1 for 3 with a walk in a rehab appearance. David Freitas went 1 for 4.

Myrtle Beach 1, Potomac 0: Michael Morse went 2 for 3 with a double. Randolph Oduber went 2 for 3 with a double. Trevor Holder allowed no earned runs in six innings on five hits and no walks, striking out three.

Greensboro 5, Hagerstown 3: Matt Purke allowed five runs in five innings on seven hits and five walks, striking out one. Brian Goodwin went 2 for 4 and got ejected. Billy Burns went 1 for 5 with a double.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 05/31/2012

 
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