On Tuesday, Moore followed his normal routine. He went to the batting cages to take his hacks. He doesn’t like video of opposing pitchers, wanting to keep hitting simple, maybe reviewing only to see a pitcher’s release point. Moore joked that he asked if any of the Nationals batting-practice pitchers could throw a knuckleball. He said he struck out against every knuckleballer he faced in the minors.
With one out in the seventh inning and Kurt Suzuki on first, Johnson called on Moore. He crushed the first pitch into the left field seats to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. In his career, Moore has faced Dickey only twice now, and smacked hits in both appearances, seeing only four of Dickey’s pitches.
“It comes with experience,” Moore said of pinch-hitting. “I failed so many times. I succeed kind of through that, learning from myself and learning on situations from the game. By no means am I a very good pinch hitter. I was able to come through tonight.”
It was Moore’s second pinch-hit home run of the season. In only 138 at-bats this season, Moore has slugged nine home runs. A part of the Nationals’ future is blossoming, even in a limited role, before fans’ eyes.
“Tyler has a really good chance to be a really good everyday player, a dominant game-changer type player,” Werth said. “A guy that can hit the middle of the order and do damage.”
Entering the game, Harper had been dreading facing Dickey again. He had been 0 for 10 with six strikeouts against him before Tuesday night. “I’ve tried everything against that guy,” Harper said. I tried a big bat, little bat, spread out, up close, tall as can be.”
In his first at-bat, Harper slowed down his normally violent swings, relying more on his hands. He notched three hits against Dickey, and finished 4 for 5. He became the first teenager to notch four hits in a game since Andruw Jones in 1996.
The Nationals added two runs in the top of the ninth inning, padding a lead and a victory that Moore had created with one swing of the bat. The Nationals would retreat to their clubhouse following the win, an eye on the following day’s opportunity and another on the television watching the Braves. They were enjoying a true September.