MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Espinosa caps off 'series of a lifetime'

Two grand slams, homers from both sides of plate twice in set vs. Reds

Espinosa caps off 'series of a lifetime'

WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa had a weekend to remember, to say the least. Everything he touched turned to gold.

On Sunday, Espinosa hit his second grand slam of the series in the fourth inning of the Nats' 12-1 win over the Reds. Espinosa later added a solo home run, finishing off a four-game series in which he went 7-for-18 (.389) with five home runs and 15 RBIs, and homered from both sides of the plate twice.

His 15 RBIs in the series are the third-most in a four-game series -- two short of the Major League record set by Boston's Rudy York against the St. Louis Browns from July 26-28, 1946. The last player to have 15 RBIs in a series was the Marlins' Cody Ross on July 3-6, 2008, against the Rockies. He also is the first player to hit two grand slams in one series since the Yankees' Jorge Posada did it June 12 and 13, 2010, against Houston.

Grand Slam means 40% off pizza

Even after the game ended, Espinosa was almost speechless. He couldn't believe what he accomplished.

"I don't know what else to say. It's surreal. It's crazy. I'm just out there having fun and I'm just staying with my work every day and it's paying off," Espinosa said. "I couldn't dream anything like this could ever happen. It's unreal. It's crazy. It doesn't feel real."

Espinosa's red-hot series

The latest grand slam came against left-hander John Lamb. On a 2-2 pitch, Espinosa drilled a ball into the left-field bullpen.

Espinosa, who had hits in each of his first four at-bats on Sunday, added an RBI single off Keyvius Sampson in the fifth and his second homer of the game in the 7th also was his team-leading 18th of the season.

Espinosa collects four hits

It's hard to believe that Espinosa is ahead of Bryce Harper for the team lead in home runs. Even Espinosa can't believe it. But playing every day for the first time since 2012 is the reason he is having his best season since then.

"No. I never thought [I would be the home run leader]," Espinosa said. "There's a long way to go. I'd never thought that I'd be there. I'm definitely enjoying it. I'm just staying who I am and not going to go crazy. Just enjoy it. Things don't last forever and I'm going to enjoy the moment that I'm in right now."

"He was hitting a lot of mistakes, that's what hitters do. Not to discredit anything, that's what you do when you hit," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Espinosa on 2 HRs, 6 RBIs

Espinosa started the season in an offensive slump, but now he has impressed manager Dusty Baker.

"Danny has come a long way," Baker said. "He works hard. He is one of the first guys here. I have to urge him to get some rest, sometimes to stay home. Boy, that was a series of a lifetime there. When you think of a guy who drove in 15 runs, whew, that's a good month. He is among our leaders in home runs and RBIs. That's out of the eighth spot. I know a lot of people say to move him up, but he is so valuable in that spot."

Espinosa did more than just slug the baseball. He showed once again that he is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. In top of the sixth, Jose Peraza hit a grounder in the hole, Espinosa jumped and made a spectacular throw to first base to nail Peraza.

"Danny told me that's where he always wanted to play," Baker said. "Danny has played some outstanding shortstop. The shortstops get most of the balls in the infield. They are involved in every play and he is ready. He comes ready to play every day on both sides of the ball, no matter what he is doing. That a big sign of maturity."

Espinosa's amazing jump-throw

The second homer of the day for Espinosa came left-handed, giving him homers from both sides of the plate. Espinosa also homered from both sides of the plate on Thursday.

"I know I can grind myself into the ground sometimes but this is what I love to do. I dreamed about this as a kid my whole life and I'm not going to let this opportunity pass me," Espinosa said.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.