THE RESULT: Danny Espinosa's Major League career is now five games old. As if his minor league stats (22 homers, 25 stolen bases in 2010) weren't enough to raise Nationals' fans expectations for the 23-year old, his performance Sunday may have driven them sky high.
Espinosa went 4-for-5 with two home runs -- including a grand slam off the facing of the upper deck in right field -- with a double and single and six RBIs, leading the Washington Nationals over the reeling New York Mets 13-3, before 20,224 sun-drenched fans in a Labor Day matinee in the Nation's Capital.
It was win No. 60 for the Nationals this season, pushing this season's win total past each of the last two, with the better part of four weeks still left to play.
The Nats were already pasting the Mets 8-3 in the sixth inning when Espinosa came to bat with the bases loaded against Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi. Espinosa crushed the 1-0 pitch to deep right, and the only doubt would be if it went upper tank. A fan in the first row of the stands reached for the homer, but it caromed off the facade and into the Nats bullpen below.
Earlier, Espinosa homered off starter Mike Pelfrey (L, 13-9) in the third inning, had an RBI single in the fifth and a bloop double in the eighth. Even the one out he made was loud, driving center fielder Angel Pagan to the wall in center for a fly out.
In five games, the young infielder is 9-for-16 with three home runs and three doubles.
"That was a great performance," Manager Jim Riggleman said about his newest weapon. "There's a lot of games left to play and he's gonna play a lot of baseball here."
Espinosa's heroics made Nats fans forget a little bit about Jordan Zimmermann's shaky start. The righty made it through just four innings and gave up three runs -- one earned -- on three hits and four walks. He made 79 pitches, just 48 for strikes. He walked three in the first, including walking in a run.
But Zimmermann's problems weren't all of his making. Espinosa booted a ball that should have been the second out of the first inning. And Willie Harris didn't get a good read on Chris Carter's leadoff double in the third inning, instead crashing into the out-of-town scoreboard in right field face first. Harris left the game under his own power, but was obviously shaken up and is day-to-day, according to Riggleman.
Scott Olsen took over for Zimmermann in the fifth in his first relief appearance since 2005. He cruised through four innings and allowed no hits or runs. He issued two walks and struck out three.
"[Olsen] really threw good. He threw strikes, he threw his breaking ball well, he pitched in effectively. He was really sharp," Riggleman said. "He did it for the ballclub today and he did a great job."
Collin Balester threw a perfect ninth and sealed the win with a K, striking out rookie catcher Mike Nickeas to end the game.
THE GOOD: Come on. Honorable mention to Olsen.
THE BAD: Jordan Zimmermann. He didn't get much help, but the four walks were all on him. He just wasn't sharp today at all.
THE UGLY: The Mets bullpen. Seven earned runs on seven hits and five walks. Even Oliver Perez made an appearance, that's how bad it was.
THE STATS: 5 Ks, 8 BBs, 6-for-14 with RISP, 8 LOB, 0 GIDP.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday night, Yunesky Maya makes his Major League debut against Dillon Gee, making his Major League debut. I included the link to Gee's minor league stats, because I had never heard of him either.