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Espinosa's grand slam, 7 RBI lead Nats to win over Reds

Espinosa's grand slam, 7 RBI lead Nats to win over Reds

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 13-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Trea Turner may want to put in some extra work playing center field. If it weren't already clear, Danny Espinosa is here to stay as the Nationals shortstop. The seven-year veteran had the best game of his career on Thursday night to close a month of June so good the Nats have one of the top prospects in baseball learning a new defensive position.

Espinosa homered twice, once from each side of the plate, in a two-inning span in the Nats' 13-4 victory over the Reds on Thursday night. The first was a grand slam hit right-handed in the third inning. The second was a three-run bomb from the left side in the fourth. The two homers - which combined for seven RBI - earned Espinosa a pair of curtain calls in a span of about 20 minutes.

Espinosa wasn't the only standout in the Nats' blowout victory. Ryan Zimmerman hit his 11th homer of the season. Chris Heisey had two hits and two RBI. Anthony Rendon reached three times and scored twice. And Wilson Ramos reached base twice and added an RBI on a sacrifice fly. 

It was another collective effort for the Nationals, who have won five consecutive games for the first time since April 16 when they won seven straight.. This was the seventh time this season the Nats have scored 10 runs or more in a game and the second time in a week. The 13 runs matched their season-high set back on May 4 in Kansas City.

What it means: The Nats moved to 48-32 on the season, 16 games above .500. During their current winning streak, the Nationals have kept opponents to an average of 2.4 runs per game. 

Espinosa has himself a day: Not only was this the best game of Espinosa's career, it was one of the best in franchise history. His seven RBI are second-most ever for an Expos or Nats player, trailing only Josh Willingham who had eight on July 27, 2009 in Milwaukee. It was the fourth multi-homer game for Espinosa and the second time he's hit a grand slam since his Nationals Park debut on Sept. 6, 2010. That day was just his fifth career game and he also had a grand slam and drove in six runs. 

Espinosa's three-run bomb was his ninth in June, a career-high for one momth. He finished June with a .309 average (25-for-81), nine homers, 21 RBI and 21 runs in 26 games. Espinosa now has 15 homers on the season, tied for third among MLB shortstops. He's on pace to club a career-high of 30 this year.

Espinosa's grand slam was the fourth for the Nats this year (Bryce Harper 2, Jayson Werth) and the sixth allowed by the Reds.

Gio comes up short: There were tons of positives for the Nationals in this one, but Gio Gonzalez fell just short of turning in his best outing in a while. The Nats lefty was cruising with just one earned run through five innings before he fell apart in the sixth. Luckily for the Nats, the game was already well in hand.

Gonzalez finished with four earned runs in six inning son six hits, four walks, a wild pitch, a hit batter and nine strikeouts. He loaded the bases in the first inning, but escaped having only allowed one run on a Jay Bruce double play groundball. In the sixth he served up a solo homer to Joey Votto, then a run on an Adam Duvall groundout and another on a Tucker Barnhart single.

Gonzalez has now allowed four earned runs or more in six of his last eight outings. And during that stretch he has an 8.10 ERA across 43 1/3 innings. Since beginning the year with a 1.15 ERA through five starts, he's got a 6.71 mark in his last 11 games.

Zim comes through: It doesn't look like much compared to Espinosa's night, but Zimmerman also had a well-rounded night. The Nats first baseman had two hits - including a three-run homer - three RBI and three runs. This followed a five-game stretch where Zimmerman went just 2-for-18.

Up next: The Nationals and Reds continue their series with a rare 6:05 p.m. first pitch on Friday night. Tanner Roark (7-4, 2.96) will get the start for the Nats, while right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 1.52) gets the nod for Cincinnati.

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.