Sunday afternoon's series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park was a rough one for 23-year-old Washington Nationals' 2B/3B Anthony Rendon, who struck out in two of four plate appearances and left six men on base in the 1-0 loss.
The Nationals' 2011 1st Round pick grounded into a force at second to end the first, stranding two runners, struck out with two on in the third, flew out in his third at bat against Roberto Hernandez in the sixth, then K'd looking with two on in his eighth inning at bat against Phillies' lefty Antonio Bastardo.
Rendon entered Sunday's game with a .481 AVG against left-handers early in his second pro season, and the called strike three by home plate umpire Sean Barber was a borderline call that the Nationals' infielder certainly questioned.
Even after his 0 for 4, 2 K day in Philadelphia, the 6th overall pick in the 2011 Draft has a .270/.300/.541 line with seven doubles and a home run in 40 PAs w/ RISP in 2014, so it was hard not to think of him when Matt Williams lamented the fact that the Nationals couldn't take advantage of the opportunities they did get against Hernandez on a windy day in CBP.
"We had some opportunities with the guys that we wanted up there that have been coming through for us," Williams told reporters. "Today wasn't their day."
After 31 games and 135 PAs this season, Rendon has a .291/.326/.496 line with 10 doubles, two triples and four home runs. His 20 runs scored lead the Nationals. He's tied for third at +0.6 fWAR through 31 games, behind only Jayson Werth +0.8 fWAR and Adam LaRoche +0.9.
Rendon and the Nationals are back in the nation's capital tonight, where he has a .294/.338/.441 line with five doubles, a triple and a home run in 17 games and 74 plate appearances. He'll be facing two consistently tough starters over the next two days as the LA Dodgers throw Zack Greinke and a returning Clayton Kershaw at the Nationals in the first two games of the three-game set.
Rendon has never faced Kershaw in a major league game.
He was 0 for 2 with a walk in three plate appearances against Greinke last season. He joked with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulen and Danny Rouhier today about the difficulty of facing Greinke during his rookie campaign.
"I think they both just attack hitters," Rendon said. "I only faced them once last year and it was kind of a blur when the baseball would go by, I don't think I did too well against them. But it was good. They both attack hitters and they use all of their pitches. They have a variety of pitches and they use both sides of the plate, every way that a pitcher can be effective and they both do it well."
Rendon told the show's hosts, that he is, however, just as impressed with what he's seen from his own team's starters.
"Each one of our pitchers has something nasty," Rendon said. "Gio [Gonzalez] throws his death-defying curveball. [Stephen] Strasburg throws his incredible changeup. And [Jordan] Zimmermann throws his sneaky 95 [mph] fastball that just goes by everybody. [Tanner] Roark just filets a two-seamer in there just backing up a hitter. All of our pitchers have something to offer and it's just amazing just to watch each and every one of them."
Rendon wasn't willing to discuss how pitchers are adjusting to him though, telling the hosts, he didn't want to help them out.
"If I told you all that on the air," Rendon said, "then other guys might catch on to it and they'll know how to get me out."
• Check out the entire interview with Rendon and 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier HERE.