MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Headfirst slide shows off Yunel's playful side

Headfirst slide shows off Yunel's playful side

WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Yunel Escobar said he is having fun, and it showed in the 10th inning as his home run helped the Nationals defeat the Cardinals, 2-1, at Nationals Park on Tuesday night.

With the game tied at 1, Escobar swung at the first pitch from right-hander Carlos Villanueva and hit the ball over the left-field wall. Escobar was so happy that he slid headfirst into home plate.

"Sometimes you have to change things. I'm trying to have fun," Escobar said.

It was also Escobar's first game since he strained his left groin last Friday against the Phillies. Obviously, he came out of Tuesday's game healthy.

Escobar has been one of the most consistent players on the Nationals, hitting .277 with two home runs and three RBIs. When Spring Training started, Escobar was the starting second baseman and then switched over to third after Anthony Rendon hurt his left knee. It allowed Dan Uggla to be the Opening Day second baseman. To manager Matt Williams, Escobar brings stability in more ways than one

"When you look at tonight, [for example], he sold out and moves the baserunner in an important situation," Williams said. "He has played second, he has played third, he has played anywhere we asked him to do. And he understands the game, when to take a chance, when we need just a base hit. [In the 10th inning], Escobar took a chance of getting the fastball and got it and hit it to his pull side. [He] got it elevated and pulled it over the fence. He just understands situations. It's calm, it's collected. He is a good hitter, he's a good fielder, he does a lot of things well for us."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.