Photo by Rachel Levitin
Back in April, the Washington Nationals were calling right-handed pitcher Jason Marquis the team’s new game-changer. Due to unforeseen injuries and a rocky start, Marquis’ debut season with Washington hasn’t been too pretty.
Marquis’ role as a game-changer hasn’t panned out the way the Nationals might have liked it to. He’s gone 2-9 in 2010, but tonight he pitched a solid six innings.
Marquis was a little out of sorts at first. According to Manager Jim Riggleman, he had trouble getting settled on the rubber. Eventually though, he found his sweet spot and started getting some quick pitch-to-contact outs.
What worked for Washington in their second straight victory in a four-game series against the Houston Astros was a certain special September call-up
Tonight, rookie infielder Danny Espinosa was the game-changer.
Espinosa went 3-for-5 including a triple – the first of his Major League career – in the third followed by a two-run blast to the first row of the centerfield bleachers in the seventh to give the Nats a much needed lead after falling behind earlier in the same inning.
“We’re not asking [Espinosa] to come here and do what he did tonight,” Riggleman said, “[but] when he puts it on the barrel it jumps pretty good.”
Wednesday night’s victory almost didn’t happen though.
Left-handed pitcher Doug Slaten entered the game after inheriting a runner from Marquis in the seventh. Riggleman pulled Slaten after he walked the first batter he faced in favor of left-hander Tyler Clippard.
Clippard ended up earning his team-leading eleventh win of the season, but nearly cost Washington the game by allowing the Astros’ go-ahead run to score. Clippard completed his outing with two consecutive strikeouts and was redeemed by Espinosa’s seventh inning homer.
The Nats relievers stayed steady the rest of the night to convert the 4-3 victory, putting them up two games to one against Houston before they close out the series tomorrow afternoon at 4:35 from Nationals Park.