Carter Kieboom got the glory and the Gatorade bath following Monday’s walk-off winner against the New York Mets in the nation’s capital. Andrew Stevenson played a big role in Washington’s win too, however, stepping in after leadoff and one-out walks from reliever Edwin Díaz and hitting an 0-2 slider down and in through the right side of the infield that tied it before Kieboom won it with a grounder back up the middle with runners on the corners.
Stevenson’s single, in a pinch hit appearance, left him 4 for 9 with a home run and a walk in the five-game series with the Nationals’ NL East rivals, and 13 for 35 (.371/.405/.543) overall as a pinch hitter this season, with two homers, two walks, and 11 Ks in 37 plate appearances.
His manager, Davey Martinez, said he and his staff considered using Stevenson earlier in the game, but he wanted to hold him back for a potential late-game opportunity.
“We talked about pinch running him in the eighth, and I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to save him because I thought he’d have an opportunity to hit against Díaz and it worked out well,” Martinez said.
Stevenson swung at and missed back-to-back sliders to start the at-bat, fouled off a 99 MPH fastball, then hit a slider that was up a bit compared to the previous two Díaz threw, and got enough of it to get it through the right side of the infield.
“First few pitches I’m just trying to drive something,” Stevenson said in a post game Zoom call with reporters, “... and once I go down two strikes, I’m not as aggressive, just trying to back some things up, and was able to see a slider better, and put a good swing on it, and good things happen when you put it in play.”
Stevenson, 27, and a 2015 2nd round pick by the club, talked about staying calm in big at-bats like that.
“I try to just mellow out,” the Lafayette, Louisiana-born outfielder said. “Kind of the bigger spots, the way I kind of look at it is, the pitcher — he’s in more of a jam than I am for the most part. So I think in that situation it’s to my advantage so I shouldn’t be the one feeling the pressure here, it should be on the pitcher. So that’s something that’s kind of helped me. Also that goes in hand with kind of my walk-up songs, they’re kind of a little bit slower, a little more relaxing, and I think I’m at my best when I’m relaxed at the plate, and going up there with a good plan.”
Martinez said he liked the matchup with Stevenson against a pitcher like Díaz, who can hit triple digits, but the Mets’ closer attacked him with sliders and the Nats’ secret weapon hit one to tie it up.
“I was trying to be aggressive, because he does like to throw his heater, so I was just looking to get a heater and drive something there,” Stevenson explained, “and I was out in front on the sliders, and then once I got two strikes, kind of settled down a little bit and was like, ‘Alright, let’s try to back it down,’ and he — I wouldn’t say he ‘hung’ a slider, but he put a slider that I was able to handle, and after seeing a couple of them I was able to make that adjustment and put the bat on the ball.”
Apparently a big hit in the ninth last night didn’t earn Stevenson a start tonight, with a lefty on the mound for Atlanta in Max Fried.