It may not be time yet to finalize your bet on when Anthony Rendon could join the Washington Nationals’ roster – but the 22-year-old gives cause to get excited about what the Nats have in store in the months ahead.
In Wednesday’s second split-squad game the Nats “B Team” had tied the Houston Astros, 5-5, by the time Rendon came to bat in the eighth inning off left-hander Dallas Keuchel with two outs. Rendon fell behind in the count, 0-2, after two called strikes, but rocketed the third pitch into right field for a two-run shot that scored Micah Owings and put the Nationals back in front 7-5.
Houston earned back a run in the bottom of the inning after starting things off with three consecutive singles off left-hander Patrick McCoy. The Astros’ Brandon Barnes plated Jose Altuve on a sacrifice fly to right field, but McCoy forced Jason Jaramillo to ground into a double play to halt the bleeding.
In the ninth, Corey Brown continued his warm spell this spring with a ground-rule double to lead off. Estarlin Martinez followed with a double of his own to plate Brown before Matt Skole struck out for the first out of the inning.
Sandy Leon grounded back to the mound to advance Martinez to third and Owings batted in Martinez on a single up the middle to make it 9-6 Nats.
Nats right-hander Jeff Mandel gave up a leadoff solo shot to Brandon Laird in the bottom of the inning, but he maintained control in time to retire the following three batters and close out the Nats’ 9-7 win.
The Nats’ pitching performances were nothing to write home about – then again, this is Washington’s secondary cast. Of the six pitchers to make an appearance, only Erik Davis – the game-winner – and Cole Kimball allowed no runs – and they each pitched just an inning of relief.
Nevertheless, Washington looked sharp at the plate…and Nats fans have yet another reason to get excited about Rendon.