David Washington seems to be powered by lumber cut from the family tree the last couple of nights.
Washington’s grandmother was in attendance for the second straight night at Cardinal Park on Tuesday, and Washington delivered his second long home run run in as many nights while helping the Johnson City Cardinals defeat Bristol, 9-1.
The left-handed batting Washington, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder from San Diego, sent a 2-1 fastball what appeared to be in excess of 450 feet for a two-run home that capped a three-run third inning for the Cardinals (32-16), who remained six games ahead of Elizabethton in the Appalachian League’s West Division. Washington’s blast was essentially the knockout punch, as Johnson City had also scored three runs in the first inning.
Washington also delivered a hard-hit single to right field and grounded out sharply to second base on a night that left him wondering if his grandmother should hang around the rest of the season.
“It’s definitely starting to look like that,” Washington said with a smile. “I need to pay for her to stay longer.”
Actually, Washington is all but ready to compensate hitting coach Ramon “Smokey” Ortiz for his tips, too.
“Smokey’s a great hitting coach,” Washington said. “He’s been working with me a lot, just getting me comfortable at the plate. When I get hits like that, I think it’s just that work paying off.”
Ortiz is pleased when he sees Washington turn on pitches with authority, and eagerly agreed that his home run appeared to be at least 450 feet.
“Oh, easy,” Ortiz said. “He’s capable of doing that when he gets the barrel out on time ... and gets in a position early to recognize a pitch. It’s a matter of time with him, because works his (butt) off.
“Based on the kind of hitter he has a chance to become, I think he needs to pull the ball more. I know he can stay middle to the other way. He’s got the ability to do that. But I also believe he’s got some more power (pulling pitches).”
Washington also made a difficult one-hop chance look easy at first base. He said manager Mike Shildt, who was celebrating a birthday Tuesday, has enhanced his defense.
“He’s been helping me a lot with my defense,” Washington said. “It’s a process. I’m still not where I want to be with my defense, but I’m working on getting there.”
Johnson City left-handed starter Ben Freeman (4-2) also took a step in the right direction while working five innings for the victory. Freeman allowed four hits, one unearned run, two walks and struck out four.
“He was around the plate all night and he made pitches when he needed to make them,” Shildt said. “He’s starting to be more consistent with his secondary pitches. He’s making progress.”
Washington’s home run was his seventh of the season. Anthony Garcia (2-for-4, two RBIs) lined a 2-1 pitch over the right field fence for his third home run in the seventh to conclude Johnson City’s scoring.
Designated hitter Roberto De La Cruz went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs while raising his season average to .299. He narrowly missed his 13th home run of the season with a two-run double off the right field wall which capped the Cards’ scoring in the first.
“It’s amazing,” Washington said. “It’s like every time up to the plate he’s putting a good swing on it. He hits the ball hard.”
Johnson City hosts Bristol (19-29) for game two of a three-game series tonight at 7.