No Nats fans want to relive October 6th again. The Nationals were tied 1-1 in the NLDS series coming into that crucial game at Nationals Park. They were facing Hyun-Jin Ryu and needing the win to avoid elimination game(s) in a best-of-five series. It was not meant to be as the Nationals blew a 2-0 lead with a 7-run meltdown in the 6th inning leading to a 10-4 loss. There were so many misplays in all facets of the Nationals game, and Howie Kendrick was getting some heat. He was batting .182 in that series with two errors and a few more plays that were ruled hits that he should have fielded. His one hit in that game against the Dodgers was soon erased in a baserunning blunder known as a TOOTBLAN. It was not looking good for Kendrick as he was looking like a “weak link” for his team.
“I should’ve trusted my instincts,” Kendrick said about his TOOTBLAN. “Little things like that, they can change the game.”
After the game, manager Dave Martinez admitted he was asked about doing the unthinkable with Howie.
“I was asked if I was going to bench Howie Kendrick,” Martinez said. “I was happy for Howie because people were questioning why I left him in games, his defense wasn’t good [they said], but the reason I left him in games was he showed you right there [with the grand slam against the Dodgers].
Fortunately, the manager did not listen to outside noise regarding Kendrick. As we know as the story was written, Kendrick would have two of the most important home runs in Nationals history. Kendrick had the game winning hit via a grand slam to win the final game of the NLDS and the two-run home run in Game 7 of the World Series with a shot off of the foul pole.
Baseball in small sample sizes has the recency bias of accentuating what you just saw. Martinez stayed with his plan and stayed positive.
“[You’ll see it] when we come out and win Game 4,” Adam Eaton said. “And when we go to L.A. and win too.”
Well, Eaton was right. The positivity carried this team, and they shook off that poor Game 3 and ruined the party back in L.A.
“I’m a big believer in karma,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Karma comes back.”
Me too Zim. When Howie Kendrick was asked on his “Play Ball” segment on MLB Network what his approach was when he hit those two historic home runs in the postseason — he asked for help to a higher order.
“I spoke to God. I said, ‘If you got anything for me, now is the time,’” Kendrick said about his approach stepping up to the plate in those key spots.
Kendrick’s appearance on “Play Ball” also included some teaching moments in some back to basics. Harold Reynolds who was with Kendrick for this segment asked what he teaches his sons. Howie talked about the stance and the finish in a swing and keeping a proper balance especially with a violent swing.
“Holding your finish,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick showed that you must keep your balance after your swing through the follow-through. He showed Ken Griffey, Jr. tape on that.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 18, 2020
Kendrick had a dozen RBIs in the postseason. In the NLDS he only slashed .250/.286/.400/.686. In the World Series, Kendrick slashed .280/.308/.400/.708. Combined in those two series, the NLCS MVP had 45 at-bats. What Kendrick did was make his impact felt the most in key at-bats with the games on the line. It goes back to the lesson that it is not how you start, rather how you finish.