Two pitches after his foul popup fell between Nick Swisher and second baseman Jason Kipnis, Rendon homered into the Nationals' bullpen off Vinnie Pestano (1-2) to stun the Indians and the crowd of 33,307.
"I met a guy today who had been through 49 surgeries," said Chad Tracy. "I've been through four of five myself, just to imagine a guy going through almost 50 surgeries, to see he was still a driven, confident, leader of a man really touched me."
On a team with a lineup that requires few pinch hitters and even fewer defensive replacements, the Nationals' bench players, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina, are faced with a difficult transition.
Monday, more than four years after they earned the right to draft him, the Nationals will send Strasburg to the mound at Nationals Park to open the 2013 season. In many ways, it is the real beginning of the Strasburg Era.
A few hours before he'd start the first major league playoff game of his life, Ian Desmond leaned on the dugout railing and pondered the question of how much experience mattered in the postseason. The Washington Nationals, of course, have very little. And the reigning 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals are rich with it.
From across the diamond Sunday afternoon, Ryan Zimmerman watched as Danny Espinosa sprinted to get Skip Schumaker's hard, bouncing grounder toward the hole between first and second base.
When you consider the hurdles he had to jump, the fact that Chad Tracy was on the field preparing for batting practice at Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon was remarkable in itself. That he was discussing the first guaranteed contract he'd signed since he was arbitration eligible with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 made it all the more astounding.
The ball sat on the infield grass, to the left of first base, and did not move. To the right, the Washington Nationals celebrated their 76th victory of the season. To the left, the Atlanta Braves walked quietly off the field.
Chad Tracy singled in the 13th inning to score Danny Espinosa and lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.