Danny Espinosa’s 0 for 3, 3 K, six left-on-base game in the NLDS opener last night, definitely stuck out on a night when the Nationals went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position as a team.
Dusty Baker talked about Espinosa’s struggles after Washington’s 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the Division Series.
“It's not the first time this has happened this year,” Baker said, “but then Espinosa can turn around and hit the next pitch out of the ballpark. That's what's kind of frustrating when you don't know -- he was swinging at balls, you know, out of the zone, and then balls in the zone he wasn't catching up to it. His swing was long tonight.
“You know, he didn't have a very good night. But then tomorrow, we got a left-hander going tomorrow, so he's back in there tomorrow.”
Espinosa was, indeed, penciled in at short, batting seventh again in the second game of the best-of-five series.
Baker was asked before this afternoon’s matchup, why he’s stuck with the shortstop through his second-half struggles (.172/.272/.280 line in 69 games and 269 PAs) and continues to now?
“Well, who else do I have?” he said. “That’s my answer. If you can give me somebody better, than I can play somebody instead of him. Certain times, you have certain people on your team and that’s what you got. My job is to hopefully get the most out of him and make him better.”
Espinosa’s not the only National who has struggled at the plate, of course.
Baker talked about Bryce Harper’s night at the plate last night as well, which saw the 23-year-old right fielder go 1 for 5 with a run scored, and how the Dodgers attacked Harper, who’s struggled at the plate all season, and was picking it up a bit before he injured his thumb late in the regular season.
“Well, I’ll put it to you this way,” Baker began, “The Dodgers have been scouting us for a couple weeks, and so they sort of follow suit on what other people have done. I mean, I can see the way they attacked guys with just breaking balls, and they attacked other guys with high fastballs, I mean, this is what scouting is really all about.
“So I wasn’t surprised by how they attacked him yesterday. Now it’s up to us, once we know their game plan, it’s up to us to counteract their game plan and do something different.”
Baker moved Harper to the two-hole yesterday, with Jayson Werth batting third and Daniel Murphy back in the lineup after dealing with a left buttock strain that cost the second baseman two-plus weeks late in September. He said in spite of their struggles, he liked the way they performed in last night’s loss.
“I like the way they performed,” he said, “again, you know I’m greedy. As manager, the same problem we had yesterday, same problem we’ve had most of the year, was driving in runners in scoring position. If we do that, then we win.
“So I’m just hoping that — we got plenty of hits and we had plenty of guys on base. They battled. Their at bats were tough at bats.
“They were grinding at bats, all we need now is to hopefully find some holes.”