WASHINGTON -- While the numbers might not show it, outfielder Tyler Moore said his brief stint at Triple-A Syracuse did wonders for his approach at the plate.
Moore only recorded eight hits and batted .178 in 12 Minor League games, but he said the real progression didn't show up in the box scores. The demotion allowed the 26-year-old to get back to the basics and take a more aggressive mindset into the batter's box.
That mindset showed on Wednesday, as he crushed a game-tying home run in the fourth inning
"In the spring, he would get pitches that he'd normally drive and he would foul them off, like he was hurrying to get at them," manager Davey Johnson said. "That pitch he hit last night, there was no rush there. He's got a great stroke."
Moore was 15-for-95 (.158) with 36 strikeouts in his first stint with the Nationals. With a shortage of consistent at-bats, he put too much weight on each at-bat and drove himself into a slump. A few weeks at Triple-A helped him change all of that.
"[It's] just the feeling of competing with the pitcher on the mound instead of getting caught up in my own head at the plate," Moore said after rejoining the team on Tuesday. "This game's crazy. It'll make you think crazy things, what [the pitcher's] trying to do instead of what you're up there trying to do."
Moore fell into a similar funk in May 2012, when he also was sent down to Triple-A to rediscover his swing. He returned to the Nationals 10 games later and his batting average ballooned to .339 by the end of June.
Johnson hopes that Moore's brief Minor League stint has a similar result this year. Whether he's in the starting lineup or pinch-hitting, Johnson said that he needs Moore's powerful right-handed bat.
"Your corner guy, you want to use a guy out there who's got some thump," Johnson said. "[Jeff] Kobernus and [Steve Lombardozzi], it's not really what I'm looking for hitting down in the order. I want someone to be able to run into one every once in a while, clear the bases. And [Moore] certainly can do that."
Signs pointing to Jordan making Saturday start
WASHINGTON -- While manager Davey Johnson didn't name his Saturday starter before Thursday's game, he hinted that it will be right-hander Taylor Jordan, who has been the leading candidate to start in place of the injured Dan Haren all along.
"I don't know when they're going to name it," Johnson said with a grin. "I'm sure the young man knows he's coming up."
A source with knowledge of the situation said on Sunday that Jordan would "probably" make the start in New York. Other possible candidates, like Nate Karns and Danny Rosenbaum, have since made their scheduled Minor League starts and would have to pitch on short rest.
Jordan is having the best year of his professional career, and Saturday's start would give him a jump on his Citi Field debut after having been named to represent the Nationals at the Mets' ballpark for the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game on July 14.
"If he goes, I think he'll perform similar to the way he's done here. I don't think the level is going to dictate his effort or his angst," Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart said. "He's the kind of kid that I think has no pulse when he pitches. He's that kind of special, where he does have that ability to go pitch to pitch and focus on that particular pitch at that time. So just because it's the big leagues or whatever, I don't think it really matters to this kid."
Ranked as the organization's No. 17 prospect by MLB.com, Jordan started the season with Class A Potomac and is now with Double-A Harrisburg, having gone a combined 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 starts between the two clubs this season. In eight Double-A starts, he has a perfect 7-0 record with 43 strikeouts, nine walks and a 0.85 WHIP.
Menhart and Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy described Jordan as having strong command of a fastball that reaches 95 mph. The 24-year-old keeps the ball down with a good sinker and a changeup that exhibits split-finger action, and he also throws a slider. Some deception in his delivery adds to the package. Now Jordan just has to show he can translate that stuff to the Majors
"As a manager in the Minor Leagues, we can't simulate the stadiums," LeCroy said. "There's a lot of things that are out of your control down here, to really get a true read, but if he throws the baseball down in the zone and commands it like he's done here, he should be OK."
Before Thursday's game, the Nationals outrighted right-handed pitcher Ryan Perry to Harrisburg in order to clear a spot for Saturday's starter, presumably Jordan, on the 40-man roster.
Nats Park light-stand fire caused by 'minor' malfunction
WASHINGTON -- As the Nationals returned to the dugout before the bottom of the 11th inning on Thursday night, a stadium light in right field began to spark. One of the individual bulbs in a light panel caught fire, forcing three sections of seats below the panel to evacuate.
"There was a minor technical malfunction in the lights above Section 226," the team said in a statement. "All those in the vicinity were immediately evacuated and our facilities team is currently looking into what may have caused the problem."
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said that he noticed the sparks from the field but hoped that it wouldn't delay the game. Ushers quickly cleared the stadium seats and the fire was extinguished. The game continued without delay and there were no known injuries to any fans.
• Haren played catch on Thursday for the first time since landing on the disabled list with stiffness in his right shoulder. Pitching coach Steve McCatty said that there were no issues and Haren felt good.
• The Nationals promoted two of their Minor League shortstops on Friday, sending Jason Martinson from Potomac to Harrisburg and Josh Johnson from Harrisburg to Syracuse.
Martinson, the Nationals' No. 20 prospect, hit .268 with 12 home runs, 53 RBIs and an .858 OPS in 73 games at Potomac, where he also played the second half of last season. The 24-year-old was a fifth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Johnson hit .267 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and an .803 OPS in 53 games for Harrisburg, showing increased power. The 27-year-old spent much of last season with Syracuse and hit .231 with no homers.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.