It's a hot 87 degree day in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 13, 2010. In front of 1,374 fans at City Stadium, a lost 23-year old first basemen by the name of Tyler Moore goes 1-for-3 to improve his batting average to .199 in the Carolina League.
Two years later to the day, Moore now stands starting at first base in Rogers Centre in front of 41,667 fans in a Washington Nationals uniform. He blasts two homers and hits a two-run double in a 6-2 Washington win. What a difference (two)years make.
It has been a whirlwind two years for Moore who went from a guy hitting .189 in July 2010 in the Carolina League to hitting 31 homers in back-to-back seasons and earning the call to the Majors on the wee hours of April 29 th, 2012.
To understand the story, you must look back at the 2010 season. Moore struggled mightily in the first half, hitting .197 with just nine home runs. His second half is considered maybe the finest in league history with Moore hitting .346 with 22 homers to win the Carolina League MVP award. Moore went on a stretch of being named hitter of the week in the league four of six weeks. He was the catalyst for the rag tag group known as the 2010 Potomac Nationals winning the Mills Cup.
"I just went with much simpler approach," Moore said in 2010 of his year. "I learned that I needed start to taking responsibility for my swing."
Moore got the call in Syracuse, New York with a game to be played in Los Angeles, California less than 15 hours later. "It was pretty crazy," says Moore, "I got told I was going to California to play in a day game at 12:30 AM that night, so I left at 5 AM took a five-hour flight, took a cab and got to Dodger Stadium at 11:30 AM playing in 1 PM game."
When he arrived to the stadium, Moore found out he was starting in left field.Moore had played over 450 games in his minor league career before even an out in left field. Two weeks before, Moore started in the outfield against Pawtucket in Syracuse and played two more games in left before his MLB debut.
"At first, it was a little overwhelming because the stands are so big," Moore, who as a kid had been to a handful of Atlanta Braves games, admits. "But, you realize it is the same game."
In the top of the second in Los Angeles, Moore grounded out in his first at-bat. In the bottom of the inning, he caught a fly ball hit by Matt Treanor for his first put out.
"To be honest, that first fly ball was more nerve wracking than the first at-bat," recalls Moore. "But the second was fine. I felt a lot more calm."
In his second at-bat in the top of the fifth against Chris Capuano, Moore drove a fastball middle in to the opposite field for his first hit in the bigs.
"I just tried to stay through the middle and stay short," Moore says of his first hit. While standing on first he says it was "kinda surreal". The Nationals fell to the Dodgers 2-0 in that contest but for Moore it was a key game in his career. He says he felt a lot more comfortable in left after playing his fourth game ever there in the big leagues.
After being sent back down to Syracuse, Moore got his second crack at the big leagues at a venue that was suppose to be his first game in a big league park: Fenway Park. While with Potomac, the P-Nats had a game in July 2010 rained out in Boston. Moore was back in a Nationals uniform at the historic ballpark: this time with a curly 'W'.
"I'm glad my first game at Fenway was in a big league uniform. I got to write my name in the Green Monster before playing in front of it. Surprisingly I wasn't nervous playing in left because I felt anything off the wall would just be over my head I wouldn't have to run," Moore said with a chuckle.
In his first game in Fenway on June 8th, Moore did something no one thought he'd in the majors: steal a base. With just six career stolen bases in 476 minor league games, Moore took second. "I am actually a little more proud of that first stolen base than anything else. I was a bit surprised to get that sign actually," Moore admits who would steal two bases in the Nationals sweep of the Red Sox.
But known for his power with a minor league leading 71 homers over the last three years, Moore's two homers in Toronto completed the first multi-series road sweep in Washington Nationals history. His five RBI in Washington's 6-2 win over the Blue Jays on June 13th were a sign Moore has arrived on the Major League Level after two years prior struggling in the Carolina League.
As the journey continues for a guy who was drafted out of high school, junior college and four-year school by Washington, Moore has a simple outlook: "To just help the team during that road sweep felt great. To just have a small part on the team this season, I feel really blessed."