Anthony Rendon’s 3 for 4 game last night, in Game 6 of the World Series, (which saw him single to drive in a run the first time up, walk in his second trip to the plate, and hit a two-run home run and a two-run double later in the game) left him 19 for 56 (.339/.429/.571) with seven doubles, two home runs, and 11 walks (vs 9 Ks) in 16 games and 70 postseason plate appearances this October.
In the six World Series games, the Washington Nationals’ 30-year-old third baseman was 7 for 24 (.292/.370/.542) with three of his doubles, the home run in Game 6, and three of his 11 walks.
The Nats’ seven-run outburst, after they scored three total in their three losses to Houston’s Astros in three games in Nationals Park, were a welcome outcome for Rendon and Co., who got to Game 7 with the win.
“First I want to say, ‘Welcome, because you didn’t show up the first five games. Where have you been?’” Rendon joked at the start of his post-game press conference last night.
He was asked about the frustration he and his teammates were feeling as the Astros held them off the board in Games 3-5.
“Definitely frustration. I think it’s frustrating for all of us,” Rendon said.
“[Hitting Coach] Kevin Long was talking to a few of us before the game,” he said, “... saying that we barreled up — 50% of our baseballs or whatever might have been over 95-[MPH]- plus off the bat. And so I think we’ve been trying to put up quality at-bats, trying to put the barrel on the ball, we just haven’t become successful out of it.”
Rendon didn’t necessarily barrel up the 3-2 slider he hit the other way for the RBI single the first time up against Justin Verlander in Game 6, but he got enough of it, and beat the shift, giving the Nationals an early lead.
“The first inning where I had the little dribbler, 12-hopper to second base, that’s a hit,” he said. “We definitely take it, but I think that’s just how crazy baseball is.”
As for what, if anything, changed, or if there was a reason they’d hit better in Minute Maid Park, with 24 runs in the three games played in the Astros’ home, Rendon said he did not know what the difference was.
“We don’t know, but we’re going to continue to try to ride this wave as long as possible,” the 2011 1st Round pick told reporters. “Maybe they enjoy our park and maybe we enjoy their park.
“We’re not going to ask questions, we’re just going to try to go out there and just have some fun.”
Rendon’s home run in the seventh, on a 1-0 cutter from Astros’ reliever Will Harris, brought a smile to the faces of everyone in the Nationals’ dugout, especially with it coming just an out after the controversial interference call on Trea Turner and out at first base made some, like Turner, wonder if things were about to go wrong for the team again.
How did Rendon stay so calm and focused in all the chaos, with his teammates arguing with the umpires, a long delay as the crew reviewed something, and the crowd of 43,384 all loud and cheering on the home team?
“I think -- I really don’t know,” Rendon said.
“You can’t let any outside elements get into the game. No matter if it’s the crowd... you’ve got 40,000 people cheering against you. Or whether it’s the weather or if we’re in DC and it’s 40 degrees, whatever it might be.
“No one is going to feel sorry for you. They’re going to expect you to go out there and just perform as best as you can, and they’re going to expect the best out of you. Because I feel like people put professional athletes on a pedestal, where they say, ‘Oh, who cares, they’re making millions of dollars, they’re playing a game for a living so it’s easy.
“‘They should go out there and be successful every day.’ We try to just keep our head down and keep playing.”
Going into Game 7, Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch talked about how impressed he’s been with the Nationals’ infielder.
“He’s such a good player,” Hinch told reporters. “When I say that, a lot of it is talking about his production. Like his swing is nearly flawless. His zone control is tremendous.
“His defense has been lights out. But how much fun does he look like he has playing? His heartbeat is so slow and so fun. I watch him, the banter he has with Davey [Martinez] or the banter he has with his teammates. That to me is when life is slow and the game is slow. And he’s really soaking up the moment.
“I think because of his obscurity a little bit behind the scenes, he’s not on these ‘We Play Loud’ games or these things. He’s under the radar.
“And yet he’s one of the most impressive superstars in our game. And I think on this national stage we’ve gotten to see it.
“But I hope he goes 0-4 today. And then I hope he gets a great contract in the offseason.”
Yes, Rendon is heading for free agency, apparently, thanks for reminding everyone, A.J.
Nationals fans hope that contract comes from the team that drafted and developed him, but if Rendon can help Washington win the World Series tonight, he’ll have earned a big place in D.C. baseball history regardless of what the future holds.