In an interview on Tuesday afternoon before the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks on ESPN980's Inside The Locker Room, 23-year-old right-handed hitting Washington Nationals' second baseman Anthony Rendon was asked what it meant to the team to have slugger Tyler Moore back on the major league roster?
"Oh, phew, have you seen him swing the bat?" Rendon asked rhetorically. "That's all you need to know."
If the Arizona Diamondbacks didn't know, they found out tonight.
Washington's 26-year-old, '08 16th Round pick was 1 for 3 vs left-hander Wade Miley, leaving him hitting just .163 on the year, but his one hit was a big one. Moore homered to left in the bottom of the fourth, tying things up at 2-2 after Jordan Zimmermann surrendered two runs early in the second game of three with the D-Backs in D.C.
Moore's third home run of 2013 evened things up at 2-2 and the Nationals scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth when Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play with runners on first and third after back-to-back singles by Denard Span and Anthony Rendon started the inning.
Span was 1 for 4 with a run scored on the night. Rendon went 3 for 4, just missing a home run in his final at bat of the game in the eighth. Rendon's now 5 for 9 in two of three with Arizona, 12 for 26 six games into the Nats' seven-game homestand and 29 for 74 since returning to the majors on June 5th. On the year, Rendon has a .354/.402/.485 line in the majors.
"[Rendon has] swung the bat like a veteran," Davey Johnson said tonight after another impressive performance at the plate by the Nats' 2011 1st Round pick. "He's hit every pitch that's thrown up there at him. He's got a quick bat and he's aggressive. Hits all types of pitches. Just a good-looking young hitter."
Rendon singled to center on a full-count fastball from Miley in the bottom of the first, then scored when Ryan Zimmerman doubled to right in the next at bat. Rendon doubled for the 10th time this year on a 2-2 two-seamer from the D-Backs' lefty in the third, but was stranded. After a passed ball with him at the plate in the fifth moved Span to second base after a leadoff single, Rendon singled on a line drive to center that moved Span to third and set Zimmerman up so that even the double play Zimmerman hit into brought home the eventual winning run.
"He hits the ball a lot up the middle and he's got that good gap power to right center," Rendon's 70-year-old manager told reporters, "If you get a guy on second base, I mean, he's going to more than likely get him in and get him over."
"That was a good at bat he had," Johnson said, referring to the six-pitch battle with Miley in the Nats' fifth, "and he hit it too hard to score [Span from second], but, I mean, he hit a bullet right before [Zimmerman] grounded into a double play to get the run across, but [Rendon] is just a good-looking hitter and then he just missed that home run. Just hit it too high, but good-looking young player."
Rendon's looked good enough in the two spot that he's going to force Davey Johnson to make a tough decision when Bryce Harper's back, barring any setbacks in the 20-year-old outfielder's rehab. So does Rendon stay at second? Does Harper hit there or third? And how about Werth? "That's a good problem to have," Johnson said, "I haven't got there yet, but I did like [Jayson Werth]. [Werth] works the pitcher real well, and maybe put [Rendon] in a situation more run-producing, but I think he's going to be comfortable wherever I put him."
As for Tyler Moore, the Nats' skipper said he had a word with the right-handed bench bat who has struggled in the role he excelled in last season and was sent back to Triple-A to get some consistent at bats before Dan Haren's trip to the DL opened up a spot on the roster in D.C. "Just before he went out, we had a long talk," Johnson said after tonight's game. "And he said, 'I know it's a tough job, but I can do it.' And he hit the heck out of that ball. A line drive, out of here. But he's such a good hitter it's hard to believe that he struggled up here and it's hard to believe that he went down there [to Triple-A] and struggled a little bit. Drove in a bunch of runs, but he struggled getting his hits."
A hot Tyler Moore, who really picked things up after a trip to Triple-A last season. A returning Bryce Harper. The rumored return of Wilson Ramos, which Johnson talked about before today's game...
The Nationals could get some of the offense they've been after all year back in the lineup in the next few weeks, and if they continue to get pitching performances like the one Jordan Zimmermann gave them tonight, the Nats might finally start to string together a few wins and turn things around.
"I love our pitching staff, bullpen and starters," Johnson said when asked about his offense starting to click as it did around this time last season, "and I've been more concerned all year long about us getting the offense going. I mean, we struggled like this early last year, and then some guys came back and I think that's just basically what's going to happen this time. We're real close to getting a couple key players back, that's really going to help. A shot in the arm."