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Williams defends decision to have Rendon bunt in 9th vs. Mets


Williams defends decision to have Rendon bunt in 9th vs. Mets

After the Nationals' bullpen collapsed in jawdropping fashion, after the Mets had not only tied the game after trailing by six, but then took the lead on a go-ahead homer, the Nats found themselves with a pretty decent chance for redemption.

The top of their order was up in the ninth against New York closer Jeurys Familia, and Jayson Werth led off with a single. That brought up Anthony Rendon, who won a Silver Slugger in 2014 and had already recorded two hits on the night.

Looking to get a runner in scoring position, Nats manager Matt Williams called for Rendon to bunt, instead of swing away. So, Rendon crouched forward looking to lay one down, as Familia smoked 97 mile per hour fastballs to the inside part of the plate.

Familia is not an easy pitcher to bunt against, but Rendon saw him well enough to work a 3-1 count. That shifted the at-bat in Rendon's favor, but instead of pulling back and resetting for a full swing, he decided to stay with the bunt, intent on moving Werth to second.

Rendon made contact, but it was not soft enough and it allowed Mets first baseman to throw Werth out at second. 

“It was bunted too hard," Williams explained. "We got a chance to get Jayson on second base with arguably our two best hitters coming to the plate and didn’t work."

Familia was careful in the next at-bat against Bryce Harper and walked him. Yunel Escobar then followed with a double play to end the game.

Williams said the Nats did consider allowing Rendon to swing at 3-1, but did not adjust their plan.

"Of course, but Familia is a ground ball guy. And he missed with three. If we go full there then we are going to swing, but just too hard of a bunt," Williams said.

Having Escobar up with two men on in the ninth is a situation the Nats will take if offered again. Escobar has been one of the team's best hitters this season and had three singles already on the night. 

But not allowing Rendon to take a chance certainly loomed large afterwards in a game that will have plenty of people second-guessing what could have been.

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.