Lost to some extent in the excitement and emotion of the Nationals’ walk-off win over the Orioles last night in the nation’s capital, was the fact that Michael A. Taylor’s home run in the eighth, a two-run blast on a first-pitch slider, got Washington within striking distance after Baltimore jumped ahead 6-2 in the third game of the four-game, home- and-home series with their regional rivals.
Taylor took O’s right-hander Alec Asher deep to left for a two-run blast after driving in a run off Orioles’ lefty Wade Miley earlier in the game.
He struck out twice, Taylor’s well-documented Achilles’ heel, but finished the night 2 for 4 with a run scored and three RBIs.
Dusty Baker told reporters after the win that he thought it was just what Taylor needed to build his confidence.
“Mike needed that game,” Baker said. “He’s been struggling lately, making contact.
“That was a big home run that he hit, that was a big two-out RBI that he drove in and so hopefully — and he was in the eighth spot, which is a tough spot to hit in, but he rolled the lineup around a couple times and so we’re all pulling for Michael A. Taylor and so that would be big for him and us if he could start rolling.”
It’s not just his manager that has his back and is pulling for Taylor.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” GM Mike Rizzo told SiriusXM Fantasy Baseball hosts Craig Mish and Jim Bowden in an interview today.
“We know what Michael Taylor brings to the table as far as what our lineup is. He’s a terrific defensive center fielder. He’s got good range. He throws extremely well. He runs well. He can steal you a base when everyone in the ballpark knows he’s going to steal and he’s got power.
“The question with Michael is pitch recognition and plate discipline, and when he stays within the strike zone he can be a dangerous hitter.
“He needs to improve in that, we know that,” Rizzo added, noting that there are, “too many swings and misses,” and saying Taylor, “understands that.”
“Offensively he’s a work in progress, but we know what he brings to the table each and every day. We think we have the lineup depth and performance that we can overcome the loss of Adam Eaton, [who] was a terrific player for us and really set up the lineup and the attitude of the lineup at the top of there, but I think that we can overcome that loss by having Michael do his thing and play good defense and become a more patient professional hitter.”
Since taking over in center field after Eaton’s injury, Taylor is 13 for 42 (.310/.356/.500) in 11 games with three doubles, a triple, last night’s home run, three walks and 17 Ks in 45 PAs.
Taylor is back out there in center for the fourth of four with the Orioles.