Jun 4, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span (2) is unable to catch the single hit by Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into Friday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs, all the talk around the Washington Nationals was about their struggling offense. They had scored one run over their last 22 innings and had difficulties getting the big hit with runners in scoring position.
Due to the offensive issues, manager Matt Williams decided to make a lineup switch before Friday’s game. He moved Ryan Zimmerman up to the number two spot to try to get him better pitches to hit in front of Bryce Harper. Coming into the night, the Nats first baseman was a .253 hitter out of that spot in the order. Last night, he went 1-for-5.
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In the 7-5 win last night Danny Espinosa, who will see less playing time when both Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon are in the lineup, came up with a big hit to get the offense started. His three-run home run over the Cubs bullpen in the bottom of the second gave the Nats a 3-0 lead. Who would have thought in June that Espinosa would be second on the team in home runs (seven), behind only Bryce Harper?
Those three runs gave Tanner Roark a good cushion to work with. More importantly, the Nats found a way to get more insurance runs to pad the lead and put less pressure on the bullpen, which has looked better in the first two games of this series. By snapping their three game losing streak, the team puts less pressure on Joe Ross today. Unlike A.J. Cole, the 22-year-old Ross will get a chance to make his debut without having the pressure of trying to stop a losing streak.
With the Nats win last night and the Mets losing 7-2 in Arizona, Washington will enter this afternoon’s game as the leaders once again in the NL East. Before Ross makes his debut at 12:05 PM ET today, let’s take a look at some of my takeaways from last night’s game: