NEW YORK -- Tyler Moore was asked last night about his at-bat off the bench against R.A. Dickey.
"It was kind of quick," he said with a laugh.
That's exactly what the Nationals want from their rookie slugger when he comes off the bench to pinch-hit. Manager Davey Johnson encourages his bench players to be aggressive when summoned late in games, jumping on an opponent's first pitch instead of trying to work the count.
Moore did that to perfection last night, digging in against Dickey and then clubbing a first-pitch fastball into the left-field bleachers for the two-run homer that put the Nationals ahead for good.
The 25-year-old has had to learn how to alter his hitting approach in his first taste of life coming off the bench, but the Nationals have seen encouraging signs of progress along the way.
"He's much more aggressive when he goes up to pinch-hit," Johnson said. "An everyday ballplayer likes to go up and take a pitch and get comfortable with the timing and everything. But I talked to him about it and told him: You start swinging from the get-go, and you'll gauge your timing better. And he's handled it like a veteran. He's gotten some big hits for us."
Moore is now 6-for-24 with two doubles, two homers and six RBI as a pinch-hitter. He's hitting .303 when appearing in a game as reserve. And he's now hitting .283 overall, with nine homers in only 138 big-league at-bats.
"I think it's just like anything else: It comes with experience," he said. "I failed so many times. I succeed kind of through that, learning from myself and learning on situations from the game. By no means am I a very good pinch-hitter. I was able to come through tonight."
After clubbing 31 homers each of the last two seasons in the minors, Moore has given reason to believe he could carry his success into an everyday, big-league role. But with the Nationals already well-stocked at first base and in left field, opportunities could be few and far between.
"I think Tyler has a really good chance to be a really good everyday player, a dominant game-changer type player," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "A guy that can hit the middle of the order and do damage. And he's shown that all season, really. So much so that he's forced their hand in keeping him here. Which has been very impressive. He has a great temperament for the game. He knows his role and does it well. I think he's got a long career ahead of him."