WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon will keep it simple. With swings, answers, viewpoints.
Why is he calm in clutch moments? Bigger things going on in life.
What is he trying to do in big moments? Get the barrel to the ball.
What is he looking for? He’s not guessing. Just working off what the pitcher does.
So, that’s it. Simple. And simple became enormously effective Friday in Rendon’s continuing powerhouse season. He drove in two runs which moved the needle four games for the Nationals. Their 2-1 win gave Milwaukee a shove back in the tight wild-card standings. The Brewers are now 3 ½ games behind the Nationals and can’t leave this weekend’s series ahead of them. The Cubs blew a ninth-inning lead in Pittsburgh. They are now 2 ½ games behind the Nationals. Atlanta lost at home against Los Angeles. Washington is 4 ½ games behind the division leaders, three back in the loss column, and, oddly, have three games in hand on Atlanta.
Washington has won five in a row -- its longest winning streak this season. It is 11 games over .500 for the first time since June 9, 2018.
All this because Rendon doubled twice to score Trea Turner both times. Patrick Corbin survived six innings of heavy traffic. Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland and Sean Doolittle finished the game with few heart palpitations.
A linchpin to the win was handling reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich. He went 0-for-5 and left four runners on base. Corbin was able to strike him out in the third with runners on first and third. Doolittle was able to strike him out in the ninth with a slider away and a runner on base. Yelich struck out three times and grounded out twice.
“I think to him your just trying to throw your best [slider], your hard one,” Corbin said. “You definitely don't want to throw a slow one in there. [Mike] Moustakas too, they both hit those pitches well. I knew just try to throw my best ones every time and mix in heaters there. I think he was 0-for-5 tonight. That's pretty impressive by the bullpen to come in get him out a couple more times and hopefully we do it [Saturday] too."
Friday provided a good start to a weekend series still without Max Scherzer. He will pitch a simulated game Saturday instead of a real one. Aníbal Sánchez will start Saturday night. Erick Fedde follows Sunday.
Rendon will be in the lineup both days. He’ll remain relied upon and steaming toward free agency. Neither issue seems to phase him.
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