Andrew Stevenson came on as a pinch runner for Adam Lind after Lind’s leadoff single in the seventh, in what was a 2-2 game with Miami at the time on Thursday night. He stayed in the game, taking over for Lind in left, so he was there when Dee Gordon hit his two-out liner to left field in the ninth, with a runner on third, after Washington had taken a 3-2 lead on a Brian Goodwin homer in the bottom of the eighth.
Miguel Rojas doubled to left off Sean Doolittle with one out in the Marlins’ ninth, and moved to third on a groundout, then the Nationals’ closer went at Gordon, challenging the former NL batting champion with fastballs, the last of which the left-hand hitter sent down the line in short left field.
Stevenson covered 38 feet in 3.2 seconds according to Statcast, on a play that had a 55% catch probably, and made a diving grab for the final out of the game.
Two minutes for diving. pic.twitter.com/lx4gmqJBSs— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 11, 2017
“I know Dee gets a of hits that way too,” Tanner Roark told reporters after starting the game and watching Stevenson’s catch from the locker room.
“So I was holding my breath and then I saw Stevenson coming running in there and make a play, and that was a hell of a play to make, an awesome catch, going crazy in here.”
“It’s a really cool feeling,” Stevenson said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to be out there.”
Stevenson also noted that First Base Coach Davey Lopes, who also positions the Nats’ outfielders, had him playing shallow and toward the line with Gordon at the plate.
“I saw him closing on it,” Dusty Baker said, “and I just — I was hoping he’d get there, cause I know that ball is slicing towards the line. But, he has a lot of speed out there, that’s the reason he was out there really.
“Then after I saw him closing on it, I was hoping that he would catch it and if he didn’t catch it keep it in front of him because Dee Gordon would have circled the bases on that one. And so, I’m just glad that never came up and I was thinking what was I going to do — if [Gordon] had gotten on — with [Giancarlo] Stanton.
“So you start thinking about these things in advance, and so I’m just glad I didn’t have to make those decisions.”
Thanks to Stevenson, Baker was spared having to make tough choices. Doolittle earned the save, and the Nationals took their third in four game with the Marlins.