ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Atlanta Braves had quite a bash on Ron Washington’s 70th birthday.
William Contreras hit two impressively long home runs, Austin Riley also connected and Travis Demeritte had an inside-the-park homer when he was emphatically waved home by the beloved third-base coach as the Braves beat the Texas Rangers 6-3 on Friday night.
Washington’s birthday came on the day Atlanta opened the series in Texas, where the baseball lifer was the manager of the Rangers for their only World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. He finally got a championship ring last year with the Braves, and was showing that off on the field before the game.
“I was trying to think when I was a third base coach, if I had one of those, I tell you, it spends a lot of energy, even on Wash doing that,” manager Brian Snitker said of the inside-the-parker. “He’s amazing to me. I told him there’s no way you’ll catch me out there at 70 years old.”
Atlanta went ahead to stay after Demeritte led off the game with a single and Riley hit his sixth homer, a 424-foot shot over the center-field wall against Garrett Richards (0-1), the first of six Texas pitchers.
When Demeritte led off again in the third, Adolis Garcia initially turned the wrong way in center field. By time Garcia recovered and lunged about 40 feet from the wall, the ball hit the ground right in front of him, then ricocheted off his glove and away from him toward the warning track.
“He kind of had a beat on it, so I was just kind of tracking him,” said Demeritte, who then noticed Garcia turn back. “I kind of knew he was having a little trouble with it. … It clicked with me. I was like, all right, I’m going to for it.”
Especially when he neared third base and Washington had his arm in an all-out windmill motion.