Did Washington Nationals' infielder Anthony Rendon get locked back in during Saturday night's 11-pitch, third inning endurance test against Pittsburgh Pirates' right-hander Gerrit Cole? The no.6 pick in the 2011 Draft battled the no.1 overall selection in 2011, fouling off five 97-98 mph full-count pitches before drawing a two-out walk in his second at bat of the game.
Rendon was in the midst of an 0 for 12 stretch at the plate before the walk and after he flew out in his first at bat of the game.
After the patient appearance in his second trip to the plate, Rendon singled and scored the third time up and ended Saturday's game 1 for 3. In Sunday's series finale with the Pirates, the Nationals' 23-year-old third baseman walked in his first two plate appearances, then hit an opposite field field RBI triple the third time up.
Rendon lined out to right in his final at bat of the weekend in PNC Park, leaving him with a .257/.310/.424 line on the year.
"Anthony, with the ball off the wall," Matt Williams said after the game, "great piece of hitting there with the guy on second. That's how you win games, right? Base hits with guys in scoring position is how you win."
It's something the Nationals have failed to do repeatedly in the last few games as they've struggled to drive in runs with one makeshift lineup or another.
With Denard Span (2 for 5, 2 R) and Rendon (1 for 3, 2 BB, 2 R) on base often, the Nationals scored five runs in the series finale after scoring six total in the three straight losses that started the stay in Pittsburgh.
Williams said he saw signs Rendon, who entered the game with a .169/.250/.247 line in 20 games and 89 plate appearances in May, was turning things around at the plate.
"He hit a couple balls foul with distance today," Williams said. "On breaking balls, which tells me that he's staying on it, which is good."
• We talked about Anthony Rendon's last few games, the Nationals' salvage job in the series finale and more in the week-ending edition of Nats Nightly: