Robles’ adjustment at dish nets big game; Rendon electric at plate

MIAMI - Center fielder Victor Robles had a big game offensively Monday and made another nice catch in the outfield in the Nationals’ 8-5 setback.

The third inning homer was his first in the major leagues. In the seventh, his hard-hit single kept a rally alive as the Nationals plated the tying run in the frame at 5-5.

Robles caught a deep drive at the wall in center field to save a huge inning in the sixth off the bat of Starlin Castro.

The young outfielder finished 2-for-4 with a homer and an RBI.

robles-bats-blue-sidebar.jpgAfter finally hitting a homer with the Nationals major league club, does Robles feel this will become a bigger part of his game?

“No. I take the same approach every time,” Robles said via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “I go up to bat looking for a good pitch and make good contact. If (homers) happen, they happen, but I don’t try to make it happen. Just take the same approach, just always the good approach and wait for my pitch, make a good swing.

He has four hits in his last three games. The homer was his first extra-base hit in 10 games since returning to the big leagues. Robles said speaking with manager Davey Martinez and hitting coach Kevin Long, they saw something in his approach they thought they could change to help him free up his swing to take advantage of his stroke.

“It definitely went up today,” Robles said of his confidence. “I felt very confident, a lot of confidence. I spoke with both Davey Martinez and Kevin Long, our hitting coach. They’ve been watching me hit all the way from A-ball up and then they made me make a small adjustment to my front leg, open up. They thought I was closed up a little bit and I made the adjustment.

“It gave me the confidence that ... they were trying to help me out and I just felt very comfortable out there today.”

After he got the home run ball back from the fan post-game, Robles was asked what he would do with the baseball now?

“That’s for me,” Robles smiled.

Manager Davey Martinez said they knew Robles was capable of hitting like this.

“Yeah, he played really well,” Martinez said. “He’s exciting. He’s going to be exciting. He’s going to be really good. I like the way he’s playing, I really do.

“We knew he had some pop. I tell him, ‘stay consistent’. I tell him all the time, ‘stay up the middle of the field’ like we do with Soto and those things will happen.”

* Third baseman Anthony Rendon followed Robles’ third inning homer with a two-run shot, his 21st of the season and 99th of his career. He finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Martinez looks to Rendon as a catalyst for the offense. The 28-year-old is hitting .349 with eight doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in September, and has nine base hits in his last four games.

“He’s the constant professional for us,” Martinez noted. “For me, he’s the guy that makes everything happen here, he really is. Shows up every day. Plays every day and just does everything you could ask. Drives in runs. Gets on base. Plays good defense. Just a really good all-around player.”

Martinez said the Nats are a much better team with Rendon in the lineup.

“I know we don’t talk about him that much but I appreciate everything he does and what he means to this ball club.”

* With the news that the Oakland A’s are officially heading to Las Vegas, Nev., as their new Triple-A affiliate, the Nats and Brewers appear to be the top suitors for Nashville, Tenn.

Now that Oakland has opened the door to Tennesse with their departure, it makes much more sense geographically for the Nats to go full-court press and get Nashville as their replacement affiliate after losing Syracuse to the Mets. Fresno would be further than Las Vegas, and Nashville is a one-hour flight.

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