Zimmerman, Rendon and Baker react to late game double-switches

Two of the biggest moves Nationals manager Dusty Baker had to make last night in Game 5 of the National League Division Series to get his lineup order were double-switches that took two of his best hitters out of the lineup.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman was replaced by Clint Robinson in the seventh. Then third baseman Anthony Rendon was replaced by Stephen Drew in the eighth.

Rendon struggled in the series with runners in scoring position, leaving four on base in this game. But he did have a big home run in Game 3 in Los Angeles.

Zimmerman started the series 5-for-11. He had a two-run double in Game 3. Zimmerman also went 1-for-2 with a walk in Game 5.

Zimmerman-Toss-Helmet-White-Sidebar.jpgYet the bottom line is they are two of the better contact hitters in the Nats lineup. Both have pulled off a good amount of clutch hits in their careers.

But they weren't available late in the game because of the double-switch strategy, which ensured the pitcher's spot would always be eight or nine spots away next time around the order.

Baker tried to explain after the game what his mindset was for some of those moves.

"Yeah, when you're playing catch up, when you're playing from behind, you have to do things that you don't really want to do," Baker said. "But I had to double-switch at certain times to make sure (Mark) Melancon wasn't at the plate with first and second or something. I had guys moving around, Trea (Turner), Michael Taylor, to try to stay in the game and get back in the game.

"It almost worked. I mean, we had action there all the way till the last out. We just came up short."

As for the players themselves, it is never a moment you want to have happen to you in a game. It's also a move that likely never happens to them during the regular season. Rendon was surprised he was taken out for the double-switch.

"Oh, definitely, without a doubt," Rendon said. "Definitely the first time that's ever happened. For it to happen in a game like that, it's definitely frustrating. But I understand the process and understand the move. You've just gotta keep your head up and root for your teammates."

Zimmerman struggled to an unusual .218 batting average this season. But towards the end of the season, he started to get better and better at-bats and finished by hitting .353 (6-for-17) in this series.

"Obviously, we all want to play," Zimmerman said. "The way I've been swinging the bat, the way I felt. But Dusty, that's his job and he does things the way he wants to do them. Clint comes in and gets a hit. Of course, I want to stay in, I want to play and I want to get as many at-bats as a I can, but that's his job to give us the best chance to win. That's what he thought."

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