Pinch-hitter starts five-run eighth inning with single in Game 2 win
By Oliver Macklin
WASHINGTON -- To excel in the art of hitting, batters often need repetition. Getting regular at-bats and playing every day tends to keep skillful batsmen in a rhythm. Adam Lind is a unique hitter. All he needs is one chance.
Lind appeared in 1,344 regular-season games without getting the opportunity to play in the postseason. On Saturday, in Game 2 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Cubs, the 12-year veteran, who has come through whenever called upon this season, got his playoff moment.
Staying true to form, Lind was summoned to pinch-hit and lead off in the Nationals' eighth inning, and he ignited a furious rally that powered a 6-3 victory. He was the unsung hero in helping the Nationals even the series.
"I can't really put into words what it's like right now," Lind said. "Probably won't be able to for a good while."
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez exited after five innings, but Washington's bullpen -- highlighted by Matt Albers' 1 1/3 scoreless frames in his equally long-awaited playoff debut -- kept it within striking distance.
Manager Dusty Baker was in search of a spark, down 3-1 to start the bottom of the eighth. Naturally, he turned to his most trusted batter off the bench, the man who seems prepared for any situation.
"I've been looking for a situation and a spot to get Lind in the game because he's saved us many, many times, and he's one of the best pinch-hitters around," Baker said.
Lind watched a fastball from Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. for a strike and then swung through the ensuing heater to go down 0-2. Edwards again went to his four-seamer, but this time Lind connected, slapping a single into left field to give Washington life. Victor Robles then entered the game for Lind as a pinch-runner, but the top prospect's speed wouldn't be necessary.
For much of his career, Lind has been a full-time player. Entering this season, he logged at least 400 plate appearances in six out of the last eight seasons. He's a lifetime .272 hitter with a .795 OPS and 200 home runs.
"He's been a big part of this club, what he's done," said outfielder Jayson Werth, unaware earlier in the week this was his teammate's inaugural postseason. "He's quite a player. To have him come off the bench like that, he's been huge for us all year. Tonight, he kind of got the whole thing rolling. It was that spark we needed."
The 34-year-old begins his preparation each game in the fifth inning, in the top of the frame when the Nationals are at home and the bottom when on the road. He disappears to take swings in the batting cage, not sure when his time will come.
Lind said he made sure to maintain the same routine on Saturday. He did not want to treat a postseason game any differently.
"I had a talk with Ryan Madson," Lind said. "[He told me] don't think about the pressure and where you're at and what's going on. Just enjoy it as much as you can."
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.