Sure, sure. Denard Span's big, walk-off hit had the fans in Nationals Park losing their minds. Two runs scored, one on the hit and one on the error by Atlanta Braves' shortstop Andrelton Simmons. But it was Anthony Rendon who scored that winning run. The 23-year-old infielder, who was 0 for 3 in the day half of the day/night doubleheader with Atlanta, stepped to the plate with two runners on in the ninth against Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel, against whom Rendon was 0 for 3 with a walk in four plate appearances in his rookie campaign. Kimbrel had already thrown 14 pitches to the first two batters in the ninth, sixth of them out of the zone, giving up a walk to Adam LaRoche and a single by Wilson Ramos.
Jeff Kobernus came on to run for Ramos after the catcher's infield single advanced LaRoche into scoring position at second. Rendon squared to bunt but took a fastball way inside that backed him off the plate. 1-0 count. Rendon didn't square to bunt on the second pitch, and Kimbrel missed inside again. 2-0. Rendon thought Kimbrel's third pitch was inside, but it was called a strike by home plate ump Todd Tichenor as the Nats' infielder pulled back a bunt attempt. 2-1. Rendon thought the fourth pitch was low too. "Strike," according to Tichernor. 2-2. With two strikes, the bunt sign was off and Rendon fouled off a 98 mph fastball. Kimbrel was way inside with his sixth pitch, another heater to take the count full and Rendon (who walked more than he K'd in college) turned away from ball four (or six as FP Santangelo said on the broadcast) and walked to load the bases.
Chad Tracy's groundout in the next at bat brought LaRoche in to make it 5-4 Braves and advanced Kobernus and Rendon into scoring position at second and third. Span's grounder up the middle scored both runners to win it, walk-off style. After the game, Davey Johnson ran through his thought process in Rendon's at bat.
"Well, he's not that good a bunter," Johnson said. "But early on, I'm going to bunt them over. He gets the count in his favor, I still want to show bunt, because [the Braves' infielders] were way on top of him and then when I went to let him swing, I got them backed off and I felt like we can bunt, but he got a ball three [on the 2-1 pitch], I thought it was low, and [Tichenor] had kind of a little different strike zone, but that was a big walk there."
It was Rendon's 30th walk in his 90th game of the year, and it put the go-ahead run on and pushed both runners already on into scoring position so Tracy's hit could bring in a run and move the eventual winning run up to second. Denard Span got mobbed by his teammates after the game-winning hit. Anthony Rendon got a nod from his manager after the game.
Rendon's back in the lineup for tonight's series finale with the Braves:
Tonight's lineup vs. ATL: Span 8, Zimmerman 5, Werth 9, Harper 7, Desmond 6, LaRoche 3, Ramos 2, Rendon 4, Ohlendorf 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 18, 2013
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