When the Nationals sent Tyler Moore down to Class AAA earlier this month, manager Davey Johnson was hoping the demotion would result in a return and an offensive resurrection similar to Moore’s 2012 campaign.
Thing is, while Moore excelled during last year’s 29-game stint in Syracuse, batting .307 with nine home runs, the outfielder’s 12-game stretch this month wasn’t so promising. Moore went just 8 for 45 with two home runs, stats that hardly offered reason for optimism when he was recalled Tuesday to the Nationals, taking the spot vacated by pitcher Dan Haren, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Sensing Moore’s frustration as well as the Nationals obvious need for some offensive firepower, especially against left-handed pitchers, Johnson had a long talk with Moore prior to Washington’s contest against Arizona and lefty Wade Miley.
“He said ‘I know it’s a tough job but I can do it,’” Johnson said after Washington’s 3-2 win.
Moore backed up his confidence by crushing a solo home run over the wall in left-center that tied the game, opening the door for the Nationals’ second win in a row. Moore finished 1-for-3.
“I came in here and tried to do too much,” Moore said of his early-season approach. “Chasing balls, swing was long, trying to think about home runs instead of worrying about the small result and that will produce something.”
Considering Moore’s prior success at the plate, his slugger’s mentality was somewhat understandable. After being drafted by the Nationals out of Mississippi State in 2008, Moore made waves in the minors with consecutive 31-home-run campaigns in 2010-11. Following his promotion, demotion and re-promotion last season, Moore smacked 10 home runs (two in pinch at-bats) and 29 RBI while hitting .263 during the team’s run to the NL East pennant.
In his postgame comments, Moore stressed the importance of playing “small” at the plate, understanding that putting the ball in play can produce as much, if not more, positive results than swinging for the fences.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman agreed. “It’s not easy to come off the bench and for him to get off to a slow start,” Zimmerman said. “I think it was the right thing for him to get some at-bats (in the minor leagues). Hopefully he can come back here and help us like he did tonight.”
With Arizona rolling out another left-handed pitcher in Patrick Corbin on Thursday, Moore is expected to get another shot in the lineup while Bryce Harper continues to rehab and the Nationals look to overcome their physical and offensive struggles.
“When a lefty is pitching I want to play. I expect to play. Good to get back in there and I was fortunate enough to get a hit — a home run,” Moore said. “It hasn’t been easy to come by but just to get that out of the way especially with a win is even better.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 3: Micah Owings went 3 for 3 with a home run. Danny Espinosa went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He’s 5 for 47 with 29 strikeouts at Class AAA. Yunesky Maya allowed two earned runs on eight hits and one walk, striking out two.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6, Syracuse 3: Micah Owings went 2 for 3 with a home run. Corey Brown went 1 for 3 with a double. Jeff Mandel allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings on nine hits and no walks, striking out two.
Harrisburg 11, Akron 2: Brian Goodwin went 3 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Steve Souza went 1 for 3 with a walk. Destin Hood went 2 for 4. In his AA debut, Taylor Hill allowed one run in seven innings on four hits and a walk, striking out four. Paul Demny, Aaron Barrett, Josh Johnson, Taylor Jordan and Souza were named an Eastern League all-stars.
Potomac 6, Myrtle Beach 5: Adrian Nieto went 4 for 4 with a home run. Brian Rauh allowed no runs in four innings on one hit and no walks, striking out three.
West Virginia 7, Hagerstown 6: Brandon Miller went 2 for 6 with a double. Will Piwinica-Worms went 3 for 6 with a double.
Auburn was postponed.
In 24 plate appearances so far in the Gulf Coast League, third-round pick Drew Ward has eight walks and two strikeouts.