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Espinosa tries to get right from the left side


Espinosa tries to get right from the left side

BOSTON -- Halfway through Friday night's game, Danny Espinosa could do no wrong. He had stepped to the plate three times and reached safely three times. He'd doubled twice, walked once, driven in a run and stolen third base.

"I feel like no one can get me out," he said. "I feel pretty good. I have a good approach up there. I know what I can hit, and I know what I can't hit. I feel good."

All of this, of course, came against left-hander Felix Doubront. Once the Red Sox brought in a couple of right-handed relievers later in the game, Espinosa fell back into his old habits and went 0-for-2.

This is just the way things have gone this season for the Nationals' switch-hitting second baseman. From the right side of the plate, he's hitting .368 while slugging a robust .684. From the left side of the plate, he's hitting .191 while slugging a putrid .293.

The disparity is baffling to Espinosa, who has always believed himself to be a better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter, even if his stats at the big-league level don't support that.

In 771 career plate appearances from the left side, he's hitting .215 with a .372 slugging percentage. In 219 career plate appearances from the right side, he's hitting .289 with a .542 slugging percentage.

Why such a dramatic difference?

"I don't know," he said. "It's been real weird for me. My whole life, I was a better left-handed hitter. It's kind of just a confusion thing. I don't understand it."

There do appear to be some mechanical reasons for it. Nationals coaches believe Espinosa tends to use too much of his upper body and not enough of his legs when swinging left-handed. He's much more efficient from the right side.

"When he doesn't use his lower half, he kind of gets under it and misses his pitch," bench coach Randy Knorr said. "That's what I see from the dugout watching him."

Knorr has been watching Espinosa for some time and managed him at Class AA Harrisburg in 2010, when he hit 18 homers in only 99 games and excelled as a switch-hitter.

"He swung great from both sides," Knorr said. "There was one game he hit three home runs the day before he got called up. I think he hit two right-handed and one left-handed. I mean, it was pretty incredible. He just needs to get back there. He's got to relax and just trust his ability and get back to being confident on the left side."

Espinosa wishes he could just take what he does right-handed and apply to his left-handed at-bats. But even when he's on top of his game, they're two different swings.

All he can do is try to remain confident that he can regain his lost stroke from what he's always believed to be his best side of the plate.

"It's just been a work in progress this whole year," he said. "It gets frustrating at times, because my whole life I've been a better hitter left-handed. I'm just like: 'Why am I all of a sudden struggling left-handed?' Right-handed, I can't get out. I just got to keep with it."

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.