The Washington Nationals managed to squeak by the Philadelphia Phillies late on Tuesday. Anthony Rendon hit a go-ahead homer to continue his banner year.
Trailing 3-0 in the seventh inning, it was actually Rendon who got the rally started with a leadoff single. He would later come around to score on an RBI groundout from Matt Wieters that Carlos Santana threw away, gifting the Nats another run.
Then with a runner on, the third baseman launched a two-run home run off Pat Neshek to put the Nationals 4-3 up in the 9th. It was just the latest display of Rendon’s value to the Nats this year, despite the team’s struggles as a whole.
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Coming into the night, Rendon was 13th in the National League in WAR with 3.9 and could move up to 11th after this performance. Bear in mind that he’s playedfewers games than everyone above him as he missed time earlier in the year.
While he’s not in serious contention for MVP honors, he should garner some votes and maybe even pick up a gold glove while he’s at it. He leads all NL third baseman in FanGraphs Defensive Rating, yes, even above Nolan Arenado. Hopefully, the voters give him the recognition he deserves this season.
Nats fans are more than accustomed to Anthony Rendon being a silent assassin that will never get the credit he deserves and that’s the case again in 2018.
Max not at his sharpest in short outing
Back to the much-hyped storyline before the game, with Max Scherzer facing off against fellow NL Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola. It was once again Nola who got the better of his other number in this game.
Scherzer could only manage five innings, giving up three runs, allowing four hits and striking out five. The damage came on two home runs by Odubel Herrera and Jorge Alfaro, while he had a lot of long counts that tired him early.
Nola went seven innings, allowing just one earned run and looked in control all night. It certainly doesn’t help Scherzer’s Cy Young case, but as we know, he can turn it back on at any moment. Next up, he faces the St Louis Cardinals, where he’ll look to bounce back straight away.
Holland locks down his first save of the season
The game ended in very strange fashion, as Greg Holland record the final two outs of the game. It was his first save of 2018, even if it came gift-wrapped by the Phillies.
The only batter he faced, Jorge Alfaro, flew out to centerfield, and pinch-runner Vince Velasquez tried to tag up. However, it turns out he left the base early, and the Nats got the force out to end the threat.
Holland will take it however it comes, and it may well mean he’ll get the call the next time a save opportunity arises. He’s recorded a 0.93 ERA since joining the Nats while striking out over a batter per inning. He’s been a fine addition and is making a compelling case to come back next season.
The Washington Nationals will aim for the sweep on Wednesday when Gio Gonzalez faces Jake Arrieta. A six-game deficit in the wildcard still seems like too much of a gap at this stage in the season, so the team is still only really playing for pride.