Tyler Moore got a good look at what playing in the postseason is all about.Some of the secondary players on the Washington Nationals postseason roster were ready for the challenge of trying to come through against seasoned veterans and beat the defending World Series champions.
The players most valuable to the Nationals victory were a pinch-hitter who barely made the postseason roster and a seventh-inning specialist whose success has gone under-the-radar for much of 2012.
Let’s take a closer look.
One Moore Time
Tyler Moore had struggled recently both as a pinch-hitter and with runners in scoring position with two outs. But against 2012 postseason standout Marc Rzepczynski, he would come through with the go-ahead hit.
Pinch-Hit in 8th Inning Or Later
Put Team Ahead When Trailing
Moore was 6-for-29 with 12 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter this season, with one hit in his last nine at-bats.
His only go-ahead pinch-hit RBI all season was a two-run homer against R.A. Dickey on September 11.
Moore was 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and two outs in 2012. He had struck out in each of his three previous at-bats in that situation prior to the go-ahead hit.
Moore was also due to do something right against a left-handed pitcher. He was hitless in the last 13 at-bats that ended with a fastball from a lefty.
And to top if off-- he was 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts in two-strike counts since September 1 before his game-winning single.
That one hit was a home run off Cliff Lee on the final day of the regular season.
Right man for the job
Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus got out of a huge bases-loaded no-outs jam by getting Allen Craig to ground into a force out and Yadier Molina to hit into a double play to keep the contest a one-run game in .
Mattheus had the highest ground-ball rate of any pitcher on the Nationals playoff roster (54 percent).
Hitting into a double play in that spot is nothing new for Molina.
Molina had 17 bases-loaded ground-ball double plays in regular-season play since his 2004 debut. That’s the most of anyone in the majors in that span.
Molina had come through in big spots many times for the Cardinals in helping them to a pair of World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
But on this occasion, Mattheus would get the better of him.
He jammed him well off the plate with an inside pitch that Molina could not get any muscle under.
Mattheus may have gotten a little lucky.
Based on Pitch F/X data, Molina hit .348 with 23 hits in at-bats that ended with a pitch that was out of the strike zone and “inside” (meaning over the inner-third of the plate, but too high or too low, or off the inside corner).
That was the best batting average on pitches to that area of any NL hitter.
Play of the Game
Jayson Werth’s home-run robbery was his first since October 2, 2004, when he had one as a member of the Dodgers against Deivi Cruz.
Stat of the Game
Gio Gonzalez is the fourth pitcher to walk at least seven batters and allow one hit or fewer in a postseason game.
The previous three pitchers (Bill Bevens, Mike Cuellar and Paul Abbott) all were on the team that lost the game.
Mark Simon and Katie Sharp contributed research to this post