Leftover notes and observations from the Nationals' 5-1 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night…
Espinosa is heating up at the right time
All season long fans have been pining for top prospect Trea Turner, who has a .321 average through 48 games at Triple-A Syracuse. Though it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, that looks a lot better than Danny Espinosa's .199 clip and .622 OPS at the big league level. But with his sixth homer of the season on Tuesday night, Espinosa now has three in his last six games and ranks seventh among MLB shortstops in the category.
Espinosa also made a very impressive play in the field that saved a run. It was in the third inning on a groundball hit by Odubel Herrera to Espinosa with Cesar Hernandez on third. Espinosa fired an absolutely perfect strike to Wilson Ramos at home to aid him in making the tag. It was a quick strike and aimed low right where Ramos needed it to be to make the bang-bang tag.
Turner will be up with the Nats at some point this season and it could be soon now that the service time issue in his contract is a non-factor. But Espinosa showed on Tuesday night the value he can provide both on offense and defense.
Drew's pinch-hit homer ties a Nationals record
Espinosa's two-run homer in the ninth gave the Nats two insurance runs and it was followed by another homer hit by Stephen Drew. Drew's was an inside-the-park homer, the second hit by a Nationals player in the month of May. Drew, 33, made it all the way home on a ball that bounced high off the wall in center field.
It was Drew's second career inside-the-park homer and his first since April of 2010. What made it even more impressive was the fact it came in a pinch-hit situation. It was the Nationals' eighth pinch-hit homer of the season, which ties a team record (2005-present). They have only played 53 games.
After hitting 26 homers in 23 games in April, the Nationals clubbed 43 in 30 games in May, third-most in baseball for the month. The last time the Nats hit more than 43 in one month was September of 2012 when they hit 49. The last time before that in franchise history was in August of 1999 when the Expos had 48.
Don't run on the Nationals
Ramos caught Herrera stealing second in the bottom of the first in what was just the 20th steal attempt against the Nationals this season, fewest in the majors through two months. They are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals with only 14 steals allowed with six runners caught stealing so far.
It's not like the Nationals are extra good at catching base stealers. In fact, they rank a modest 11th in baseball with a .667 stolen base percentage. That said, clearly there is something to the fact teams are not testing them.
Murphy's big month
Daniel Murphy hit his ninth homer of the season on Tuesday and posted his 26th multi-hit game in 51 appearances. You can read more about that here, but CSN researcher Rich Goldberg put together some extra notes about Murphy's memorable month that are worth passing along:
*with 77 hits through 53 games played by the Nationals, Murphy is on pace for 235 hits this season
*Murphy has 26 multi-hit games and 25 total games with 0 or 1-hit
*Murphy's hits-per-game breakdown
*47 hits in month of May tied a Nationals/Expos record for most hits in a single month
*Most hits in single month in Nationals/Expos history
2016 MAY Daniel Murphy 47
1994 JUN Marquis Grissom 47
1982 AUG Al Oliver 47
1993 JUL Delino DeShields 46
1996 APR Mark Grudzielanek 45
*.416 average in May is the highest in Nationals/Expos history (Min. 30 AB)
Season H AB BA
Daniel Murphy 2016 47 113 .416
Michael Morse 2011 25 62 .403
Dmitri Young 2007 23 58 .397
Jose Vidro 2000 41 106 .387
Troy O'Leary 2002 17 44 .386