Top two hitters go 6-for-8 with two RBIs in victory
By Jacob Emert
WASHINGTON -- In 2014, the tandem of Denard Span and Anthony Rendon proved a dangerous duo at the top of Washington's order. One year ago, they combined to hit .294 and scored 205 runs, a product of getting on base consistently in front of Bryce Harper.
In Tuesday night's 3-1 win over the Braves, the pair combined to go 6-for-8 with two RBIs and a run scored and showed they are close to returning to that type of synchronized production.
"I think it just sets the tone," Span said. "It sets the whole offense in motion, especially if I get on base and [Rendon] comes behind me. He usually gives me a pitch or two to try and get on second base. And if not, if I don't steal, he's very capable of hitting a homer or hitting a double. It's just something that sets the tone for the whole team and the whole game when we do our jobs."
Span has dealt with numerous injuries this season -- starting with right core muscle surgery in April and then battling sore knees recently -- and Rendon is still getting his timing back after rejoining the team for the first time in early June. On Tuesday, there was no sign either had been hampered.
After a two-hour and 12-minute rain delay, Span started Washington's half of the first inning with a double to right-center field. He scored when Rendon, batting behind him, slapped a single between first baseman Chris Johnson and the first-base bag.
It was the first of four hits for Rendon.
"For Anthony, if he's hitting the ball on a line the other way, you know his swing is right," Washington manager Matt Williams said. "Line drives to the middle of the diamond are his key, and he did that tonight for us."
In his 17th game of 2015, it was Rendon's first four-hit game this season. He has six in his career.
In the third, Span added his second hit, an RBI single to left field. It continued a trend of Nationals runs coming increasingly off sustained, aggressive innings, rather than home runs.
"I think it's just something that's happened over the last week," Span said. "But we always talk in our meetings about being aggressive, going first to third. We have a lot of athleticism on this team, so that's something that we preach from Spring Training. I just think the last couple of weeks we've started to open up and see opportunities and we've been taking them."
The Nationals have won four straight, and, with Span and Rendon continuing to get healthy and produce, the success may be for the long haul.
"They're both on-base guys for us," Williams said. "They both have the ability to drive baseballs as well. They can hit doubles and triples, but to move a baseball like Anthony did tonight -- Denard leads off with the double and he just moves the baseball the other way -- just sets up innings for us."
Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.