Bryce Harper's 2 for 5, two double performance. Ian Desmond's BIG home run. Jordan Zimmermann's strong six innings and DIY double. Henry Rodriguez's triumphant return to the mound. A 9-3 win over the NL West's best. It was a big night for the Nationals, but when Nats' skipper Davey Johnson talked about what he thought was the biggest development in the series-opening win over San Francisco last night, Washington's manager pointed to Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa's 3 for 4 night at the plate. "I was really pleased to see Espinosa," Johnson told reporters after the game, "I mean, he's been swinging the bat a lot better from the left side over the last two or three weeks, hadn't gotten much for it, but he's been looking good, he's been swinging good. And today, to see him get three hits hitting left-handed, to me, that was the biggest thing that happened this ballgame. [Because] we all know how capable he is, and seeing him do that, that was to me by far the most exciting thing for me to see in the game today."
Espinosa now has hits in six of the last seven games, and a .232/.309/.370 line on the year. With a left-hander on the mound for the Giants in this morning's 11:00 am holiday start, "Right Side" Danny's leading off and hitting from the right side, where he has a .320/.414/.533 line compared to his .201/.270/.311 line from the left side. Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell mentioned in his most-recent chat that the Nationals continue to have faith in their 25-year-old infielder, and he also noted that, "Espinosa has been doing fine for his last 52 games." Including last night's game, (53 G overall) Espinosa has a .255/.324/.429 line with 17 doubles and five home runs since starting the season with a brutal April, though he has struck out in 56 of 196 AB's over that stretch. Can the rising tide of the Nats' offense lift Espinosa too?
• Here's today's lineup, with "Right Side Danny" leading off against Giants' left-hander Madison Bumgarner:
#Nationals lineup 7/4 vs. #Giants - Espinosa 4, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, Morse 7, Desmond 6, Moore 3, DeRosa 9, Solano 2, Jackson 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) July 4, 2012
• DON'T FORGET TODAY'S GAME STARTS AT 11:05 AM EDT