Washington Nationals Reaction: Danny Espinosa suddenly one of Nats’ best hitters

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Jun 27, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 27, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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After an incredible month of June at the plate, Danny Espinosa has suddenly become one of the Washington Nationals’ best hitters.

Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez has struggled mightily over the last several weeks. No matter how well the team has been playing, any start by Gonzalez is unpredictable and nerve-racking for the team and its fans.

The sentiment before last night’s game was no different. The Nationals had won four games in a row and had just swept the Mets. Nevertheless, with Gonzalez on the mound, there was a sense that the first loss of the home stand was inevitable.

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In the end, Gonzalez pitched a solid game. But it didn’t really matter, because the Nationals trounced the Reds’ pitching staff with 13 runs. It seems as though the Nationals have found the antidote for the stress caused by Gonzalez’s starts — and his name is Danny Espinosa.

Espinosa led the offense to one of its most impressive showings in recent memory. The Nationals’ 13 runs matched a season-high, and Danny Espinosa was responsible for seven of them.

All of Espinosa’s damage came on two powerful swings. The first came on a grand slam in the bottom of the third. Later in the game, he hit a three-run blast to stretch the Nationals’ lead.

It was a fitting end to an incredible month of June for Espinosa. The shortstop is batting .287 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs over his last 30 games.

Not long ago, Espinosa was nothing more than a bridge to the next best thing —a temporary option at shortstop while Trea Turner continued to hone his skills in the minors.

Next: Danny Espinosa leads offensive barrage as Washington Nationals rout Reds

But over the last month, Espinosa has suddenly become one of the team’s most essential players. His spot in the everyday lineup, perhaps for the first time in his career, is likely safe for the rest of the season. And if he continues to play how he’s played in June, he could help lead the Nationals to the postseason.

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