Ryan Zimmerman played first for 51 straight games to start the season before he sat one out in last night's nightcap of the split doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays in Nationals Park. Washington's 30-year-old, ten-year veteran third-turned-first baseman played every game at first through April and May, until Tyler Moore finally started one.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams made the decision to put the 28-year-old, hard-hitting bench bat in the cleanup spot as well with Zimmerman out.
Moore responded with a 1 for 3 night at the plate, hitting an RBI double with one down in the fourth that tied the game up at 1-1 and a bases-loaded sac fly in the fifth that made it 3-1 a half-inning before Blue Jays' center fielder Kevin Pillar's second home run of the game put Toronto up 5-3 in what ended up a 7-3 win.
Moore's double off Jays' right-hander Marco Estrada was one of just six hits the veteran starter allowed in six innings of work on the mound in the nation's capital.
"He just mixes his speeds up really good," Moore said when asked what Estrada did to limit the damage.
"Changeup is really slow. Locates his fastball up and has a big curveball. He just hits his spots. He just throws the ball kind of where he wants to and that's how he's effective."
Moore tore into a 79 mph 1-0 change on the RBI double and lined it to left to bring Bryce Harper around, then battled Estrada before the sac fly in the fifth, working the count full and sending a towering fly to right that brought Nats' right-hander Max Scherzer in from third after the pitcher singled to center to start the inning.
He told reporters he wasn't sure the double was even going to fall in fair. "It was hooking pretty bad," Moore said. "But I'm glad it did."
Estrada threw him a full-count fastball in the fifth and high in the zone as it was, Moore managed to get on top of it and power it out to right.
"He just missed two heaters that he likes to elevate and it's just tough to get on top of his fastball," Moore said. "Just tried to really get on top of it 3-2, it may have been even a ball I'm not sure, but we were able to get the run in."
Moore also talked about being impressed with what he's seen from Scherzer so far in the pitcher's first year with the Nationals, and not just at the plate.
"The guy has just been unbelievable for us," Moore said when asked about the rare less-than-stellar start, which saw Scherzer go six, surrendering six hits, two of them home runs, and four runs total, all earned.
It was the first time this season that Scherzer allowed more than one home run in a start.
"He just turns it on whenever he needs to and if he gives up a hit you're like, 'How did he do that?'" Moore said.
"He's just a really good pitcher. It was definitely a surprise for Pillar to get those two homers off of him. You've just got to tip your hat to him."
Moore said he was happy to do what he could to contribute, given another opportunity to start.
"It's great. The starters are battling every day hard and us bench guys, we're just trying to help those guys out, that's why we're a team and just try to give those guys a day off every once in a while."
In the nine games he has started this season, Moore's now 6 for 29 with two doubles and two home runs, and he's 4 for 20 with a double and a home run as a pinch hitter this season, filling the same role he did with the 2012 NL East Champion Nationals, playing first at times, left when necessary and providing the Nationals with some pop off the bench.