WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon has been the lifeblood of the Nationals’ offense all season. When in danger of flatlining, he helped keep Washington alive for at least one more day.
That was again the case Monday night at Nationals Park. Rendon drove in three runs, including a go-ahead single that sparked the decisive four-run rally in the fifth inning, to help the Nationals stave off elimination with a 6-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The series will now shift back to Los Angeles for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
After being held to only eight runs over the first three games of this series, the Nationals’ bats finally broke out, cruising to a comfortable win behind ace right-hander Max Scherzer.
“It’s definitely huge,” Rendon said. “Especially in the playoffs. Not too many are going to be double-digit scoring. It’s going to be tough for a team to run away from another team. The majority of the games are going to be one, two, three-run games. The fact that we put up a good amount of runs today is awesome.”
Rendon, 29, enjoyed a career offensive year for the Nationals in 2019, batting .319 with a 1.010 OPS, 34 home runs and 126 RBIs to put himself in the conversation for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. But his bat had cooled in the weeks leading up to the postseason, as he hit only .114 (4-for-35) with a .496 OPS without a home run over his final 11 regular-season games.
Rendon entered Monday's game 3-for-13 with four walks and one RBI over the first three games of the NLDS, but he once again emerged as a key offensive catalyst in a critical Game 4.
The Dodgers opened the scoring on Justin Turner’s solo home run off Scherzer in the first inning, but Washington came back to tie the game in the third after loading the bases against left-hander Rich Hill. With one out, Rendon fell just short of a grand slam, sending a deep drive to left-center field for a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 1.
“He's a guy that makes our lineup go,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He really is.”
The Nationals continued to rally in the fifth after Trea Turner led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a bunt by Adam Eaton. That brought up Rendon, who walked up to chants of "MVP," before ripping a single to center field off Los Angeles reliever Julio Urías that gave Washington its first lead of the night. Three batters later, Ryan Zimmerman clobbered a three-run home run to expand the Nationals’ lead to 5-1.
Rendon capped his big night at the plate with another sacrifice fly in the sixth off Ross Stripling. It marked his third career multi-RBI postseason game, all of which have come against the Dodgers. He finished 1-for-2 with the three RBIs.
“He's a special player,” left-hander Patrick Corbin said recently. “He has my MVP vote if I had one. All season long, just how consistent he is, no ups and downs. You can never tell if he's struggling. He's as well-prepared as anybody in the game.”
Rendon’s future with the Nationals has been clouded by his impending free agency, and he admitted before the start of the NLDS that the potential end of his tenure in Washington has been on his mind in recent weeks. His performance Monday helped potentially extend his final October run with the Nationals, giving him another chance to guide the only Major League team he’s known to its first NL Championship Series.
“Just the fact that we are making the playoffs and trying to make a run and fighting for it, I think that says a lot,” Rendon said. “It’s not easy to make the playoffs, and I think a lot of people overlook that. They think it’s a piece of cake, but it’s definitely not.”