Meneses' bat (5 RBIs) menaces Sox in rubber-game win

Nationals first baseman does damage with pair of doubles against former organization

August 18th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- Two years ago, was playing for the Red Sox’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, trying to climb his way to his Major League debut. His next club would be the Nationals, with whom he achieved that big league goal in August 2022.

Meneses faced his former organization for the first time since then this week, and he wrapped up the series by propelling the Nats to a 10-7 win with a career-high five RBIs in Thursday afternoon’s rubber game at Nationals Park.

The 31-year-old designated hitter went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two runs scored en route to Washington's 55th victory of the season, tying the club's 2022 total.

“It feels good,” Meneses said. “It didn’t feel real good when [Boston] let me go, but at the same time, I feel like it taught me a lot. It taught me to work hard, keep working, and I think it created a better work ethic in the end to never give up. 

“So when you play against them and you’re able to hit so well against them, obviously it feels good.”

Meneses’ five RBIs are tied for most in a single game without a home run in team history (2005-present). He joins Yadiel Hernández (May 1, 2022, at Giants), Daniel Murphy (July 4, 2017, vs. Mets; April 25, 2017, at Rockies), Ian Desmond (June 9, 2014, at Giants) and Jayson Werth (July 1, 2013, vs. Brewers).

Meneses also tied Stone Garrett with the most RBIs in a game this season for the Nats.

“It means a lot,” Meneses said of the RBI total. “Obviously, I try to go out there and try to produce any way I can. I’m trying to help the team win any way possible, so when the results are there, it’s definitely a great feeling.”

Meneses did his damage with extra-base hits. After grounding out in his first at-bat against lefty Chris Sale and reaching first on an error by third baseman Rafael Devers in the third, Meneses began making contact in the fifth. He doubled off righty reliever Josh Winckowski in his third at-bat to drive in Alex Call and Jeter Downs. 

In the sixth, Meneses plated Downs and Lane Thomas against southpaw Chris Murphy to give Washington an 8-1 lead.

Meneses’ offensive performance provided enough cushion to fend off the Red Sox’s six-run rally in the seventh -- which included a grand slam by Luis Urías and a two-run blast by Devers off reliever Robert Garcia -- and preserve the win for Patrick Corbin.

“They’re a good team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “If you look at what they've done the last month, they've been playing well. They’ve got good arms, they hit the ball, they put together good at-bats.”

When Meneses debuted last season, he showcased his power with 13 homers in just 56 games. Driving in all five runs on a pair of doubles on Thursday is an example of the adjustments he has made to be effective in other ways at the plate. 

Meneses is batting .357 this season with runners in scoring position (sixth in the National League among qualified hitters).

“I tell him all the time, it’s about the RBIs, about run production,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Every time we get guys on base, he hits the ball hard. It’s been awesome. Some guys have the knack to do that, some guys really don’t.

“He’s one of those guys that with guys on base, he bears down and hits the ball hard.”

In the past two weeks, Meneses has delivered against two of the three organizations he played with during his 10 seasons in the Minors. Hitting two homers (including a game-winner) against the Phillies and logging five RBIs vs. the Red Sox shows how much Meneses has grown since breaking through in the bigs last year.

“He’s come a long way,” Martinez said. “He got an opportunity here with us, and he’s taken full advantage of it. From last year to this year, he’s done really, really well.”