Jayson Werth has the beard of a mountain man and the sense of humor of a stand up comedian. On Sunday, he showed the true poise of a major leaguer.
Werth drove home the winning run, in walk-off style, against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. His double down the left field line lifted his Washington Nationals to a 5-4 victory.
The hit scored Anthony Rendon from first base.
"I figured old "No Stop" [third-base coach Bobby] Henley over at third base, he is always waving guys around. I assumed that he was going to send [Rendon]. I thought we had a chance," Werth told the official team website.
The swing was Werth's and the speed was Rendon's but frustrated Brewers manager Ron Roenicke blamed the final run on a defensive miscue.
Milwaukee's defense was playing back to prevent a double from Werth — but that plan didn't pan out as Werth ended up on second base as Rendon crosses the plate.
Brewers' left fielder Khris Davis overthrew the cutoff man which aided Henley's decision to send Rendon home.
"Really, we need to quit making so many mistakes," Roenicke told MLB.com. "We're not always going to swing the bat great, and we're not always going to pitch great, but we should be able to make solid plays. In close ballgames, that's what it comes down to."
According to Nationals.com, with the count, 3-1, on Werth he is 5-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs this season. That was the count when he drove in the winning run off Milwaukee pitcher Rob Wooten.
Werth was 2 for 5 on Sunday to extend a five-game hitting streak. He is 11 for his last 38 at-bats which helps bring his batting average to a season-high .283 mark.
"[Werth has] been tremendous,” Rendon told The Washington Times. “Ever since I’ve been here, since last year. The last couple times teams have walked me and he’s come up and hit the home run a couple times. Amazing.”
The win could not have come at a better time for the Nationals. This weekend series to open the second half of the MLB standings was a battle between first-place teams.
The Brewers have since surrendered their lead in the National League Central Division, as the St. Louis Cardinals currently hold a half game lead. The Nationals, on the other hand, are trying to break away from the Atlanta Braves in the East.
Washington is now a season-best 10 games over .500, but the Braves are coming off a successful series against the Phillies and remain deadlocked with the Nationals.
“Once the all-star break is over, it’s time to really prove that we’re a good team,” reliever Craig Stammen told The Washington Post. “You take that one day at a time and play each game as best you can, and in the end you hope you’re in the lead.
"I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”
The Nationals now embark on their longest road trip of the season with the next nine games coming away from their home park. They will face the Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins.
The Braves, meanwhile, have nine-straight home games to close out the month of July. These respective stretches will certainly be indicative of how the season will shape up for both teams.
Atlanta is 27-20 at home this season, while Washington is 23-23 on the road so far.
Werth's heroics may provide the necessary momentum to sweep through the road woes moving forward.
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