“I believe I’m a great player and if I get an opportunity I can go out and produce,” Andrew Stevenson told reporters after he homered off Jacob deGrom twice in the first of two in a doubleheader with the New York Mets on Saturday, then went 1 for 4 with a bunt single in the nightcap.
Stevenson finished the night with an 11-game hit streak, over which he’s gone 13 for 32. It has been a bit of a surprising run from the 26-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick, who spent a good deal of the season at the Nationals’ Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, VA. He managed to stay sharp down there, while he waited for the call.
How did he stay focused while waiting for an opportunity that seemed like it might not come this season?
“I think it’s just believing in yourself,” Stevenson said.
“That was kind of always in the back of my mind, just to be ready, you never know, and take advantage of the work you’re putting in each day because eventually it will pay off.”
Once he got the opportunity, he’s done what he can to take advantage of it. How has he done it, stringing together hits in each of the last 11 games?
“I think it’s just staying loose and having fun and just trying to take advantage of all the opportunities they’re giving me,” Stevenson said.
“Third baseman’s back, lay down a bunt, or take what pitches they’re giving me as well.”
“He’s seeing the ball well, he’s hitting the ball well,” manager Davey Martinez said.
“What I like is he’s using all fields. He’s driving the ball, he’s staying behind the baseball.
“Today you saw him lead off the game with a bunt base hit. So he’s playing really good now. Like I said before, I’ve always liked the way he’s swung the bat. He pinch hit for us, he had some big hits for us, some big walks, works the count, so he’s doing well. Hopefully he can build off of this and run with it and then we get him back next year we’ll see where we’re at.”
While the bunt was well executed, what really stood out from Stevenson’s play on Saturday, was the fact that he managed to hit two home runs off deGrom, even if the second of them was more a result of a collision with the wall in left by Mets’ outfielder Dom Smith, who fell awkwardly while chasing a fly into the corner and hit face first leaving him unable to get up to recover the ball.
deGrom didn’t give up two home runs in a game in any of his starts this season. He’d given up five total on the season before Saturday’s outing.
“That’s kind of one of the things you look at and you don’t really expect to do. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, and to be in that situation where the second one I was glad Dom is all good, but just to be a part of that is something pretty cool.”
Martinez has had him at the top of the lineup for the last few games too, which is nothing new for Stevenson.
“You get more at bats, but that’s something I’ve always hit leadoff or the top of the order, whole career coming up, so just being able to do that at this level, it’s been fun,” he said.
Stevenson is back up there again in the season finale...