They ended up losing the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader with the New York Mets, by a final score of 11-9 in extras, but the Washington Nationals battled back from 9-0 to tie it up in the bottom of the seventh when Andrew Stevenson capped off the comeback with a two-out, two-run, game-tying home run.
Stevenson’s fourth of 2021 was a 345-foot shot to right field on a 1-1 changeup from Mets’ right-hander Seth Lugo.
“Yeah, you know early on tried to flip me in an offspeed [pitch] and I ended up taking it for strike one,” Stevenson said when he spoke via Zoom after the loss, “... and then he tries to brush me back in, so I was kind of looking out over the plate, and he kind of left one, a good pitch to hit, and didn’t miss it and tied the game up.”
Tim Bogar, who filled in for Davey Martinez after the manager was ejected for arguing with the umpire over what the Nationals thought was a check-swing strike three by Pete Alonso in the second, talked afterwards in glowing terms about what Stevenson brings to the table when he gets in a game.
[ed. note - “Davey Martinez after the second game of the doubleheader on the ejection/if it was frustration with the situation in that inning or just the call?: “No frustration just a bad call, he swung, no doubt about it. No doubt in my mind. I looked at it 25 times, and he swung.”]
“I tell you what, I love Stevie,” Bogar beamed. “I love his character, I love how he goes about his business. He’s always ready. Whatever we ask him to do, he’s great. You know, in that situation, Stevie is a good high fastball hitter. I was expecting him to do it again in his last at bat, just because he handles those pitches so well. So it’s good to see him succeed too, he’s a grinder, he works really hard, and it’s really nice to see him hit that two-run homer to tie it up.”
“Stevie came up huge there for us, that was awesome,” Kyle Finnegan said, after taking the loss when he gave up a leadoff (two-run) home run in extras, cashing in on the free runner in extras to put the Mets up 11-9.
It was the second game in a row in which Stevenson made a big impact.
In Friday night’s series opener, he scored the tying run in the ninth, coming around on Riley Adams’ double after taking over as a pinch runner at first base after a one-out walk by Ryan Zimmerman. Stevenson collided with the Mets’ catcher Chance Sisco, in a nasty play at the plate, sending the game to extras before the visitors scored four in the top of the tenth.
Stevenson said he just takes the same approach whenever he gets an opportunity.
“It’s just play hard, play fast,” the 27-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick said. “It’s playing hard. That’s kind of — any time I get in there I just try to change the game, whether that’s with the bat, with my legs, because you know, to get a chance to do this is something I won’t take for granted. So I try to play hard and keep giving him another reason to run me out there again.”
Stevenson credited his calm in big situations with his experience in previous games over the course of his career.
“I think it’s just staying in my approach,” he explained. “Throughout my career I’ve been put in some — late in the game, pinch hit at bats off of someone’s closer, something like that, so I’ve been in a lot of kind of pressure situations. So it’s just the fact that I’ve been there and done it before, it’s just something you can just relax, stay within your approach and try not to do too much and normally good things happen when you stay within yourself.”
Did he take any positives from the way the club battled back from a nine-run deficit even if they didn’t win it in the end?
“I think any time you can erase that big of a deficit, that’s nine runs to think about and overcome,” Stevenson said.
“That just shows the talent’s here. It’s just you know, we got some young guys, we’re going to get some experience, put them in these situations so down the road whenever we’re making a run for a playoff push, we’re going to look back to this, this is something we’ve done this before. This is a Mets team that’s making a playoff push, they’re not out of it, so they’re throwing their guys, they got their lineup out there, so to be able to do it against those guys is definitely going to be something we can build off in the future.”
Stevenson’s manager talked after the second game of the doubleheader about Stevenson taking advantage of his opportunities.
“He plays hard, he really does, and when he gets an opportunity to play he plays, regardless of what it is, the pinch hits, getting out there to pinch run, playing today and getting the start, coming in today in the first game, he plays hard and he plays to win, so he had a good day today.”