Danny Espinosa continued the trend of personal heroics on Aug. 4, a date he apparently has grown to like, whether he knows it or not.
Espinosa enjoyed his first career three-homer game Wednesday, capping the four-RBI night with a go-ahead shot in the 10th inning to lead Double-A Harrisburg past Binghamton, 5-3.
"It feels good, I've never done it before," he said. "I guess the hits just feel kind of surreal. I didn't know how to feel, I didn't know how to react. But I was going crazy in my mind, it was awesome."
Espinosa's teammates knew exactly how to react. After the shortstop rounded the bases following his third blast, he returned to a silent, motionless dugout.
"No one got down from the steps or said anything to me," he laughed. "But after a few seconds, everyone came up to congratulate me."
It was the third career multi-homer performance for the former third-round pick and came exactly one year to the day that he blasted a pair of longballs for Class A Advanced Potomac.
He said he knew he'd had a few multi-homer games, but didn't realize his first came a year ago.
"It just happened to happen, you don't really think about it," he said. "But that's kinda cool to do it on the same day."
Aug. 4 has evolved into a good day for going deep in general. Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez finally hit his 600th career homer earlier in the day, exactly three years after hitting his 500th. Wednesday's milestones also occurred 54 years to the day since Lincoln Chiefs slugger Dick Stuart, playing in the Class A Western League, became the eighth player in professional baseball history to hit 60 homers in a season when he went deep in 1956.
Espinosa still has a ways to go before he can think about those marks, though. Wednesday's game was his first multi-homer effort since he hit two July 19. He last homered July 29, one of six he hit in the month.
The Long Beach State product's night certainly did not look to be unusual early on after he grounded out and popped up in his first two plate appearances. He got to work in the sixth, though, blasting a leadoff drive to left, his 16th of the year.
"They had been working me in a lot, pounding me in, but I hadn't committed to hit that pitch in any at-bat," he said. "And I said I was going to take a shot at that pitch at least once. So on 1-0, he came in and I got it."
The infielder struck again in the eighth with another leadoff homer, also to left field, before ripping the two-run shot off Edgar Ramirez in the 10th.
"I wasn't trying to hit a home run," he said. "I was trying to put a good at-bat together, maybe get a base hit, get runners at first and third, work a base hit and have a good long at-bat."
It was the first three-homer game by a Senator since June 11, 2005, when Dee Brown victimized Reading. Brown, like Espinosa, hit a go-ahead home run in extra innings in that game.
Espinosa has quickly risen through the Nationals' system since being selected in the third round of the 2008 Draft by the Nats. He hit .309 in his final campaign with the Dirtbags, played for the Team USA National squad and spent the 2006 summer in the Cape Cod League.
The former Mater Dei (Calif.) High School star debuted at Class A Short-Season Vermont in '08, was a Carolina League All-Star with Potomac last summer and earned his second trip to the All-Star Futures Game this season along with an invite to the Eastern League midsummer classic this year.
The 23-year-old played in the Arizona Fall League in '09 and saw action in three Spring Training games with Washington earlier this year. He's batting .262 this year as the Senators' leadoff man.
"So far it's gone pretty well, I've made some adjustments and changes to my swing," he said. "For the most part, it's the same as last year's swing. I've worked hard and the swing is coming together, so I think it's gone really well for me."
Espinosa's progress was highlighted for a second time by a trip to Anaheim, Calif., in June for the Futures Game, a showcase of the most elite Minor League talent around. It was also a chance for the Santa Ana, Calif., to return home.
"The Futures Game was unbelievable, I got to be at home, I grew up maybe three miles from that stadium," he said. "And I got to play with a lot of friends I grew up with, so it was unbelievable."
The Harrisburg bullpen completely shut down the Binghamton lineup, with Major League veteran Chuck James (7-0) and Cole Kimball combining for four hitless innings to help Harrisburg to its sixth straight victory.
Mets third baseman Zach Lutz hit a pair of home runs in the loss.