Logan lifts Nationals by Orioles
Outfielder's two-run single in eighth proves the difference
WASHINGTON -- There's one thing that could be said about Nationals manager Manny Acta: When he has confidence in somebody, it never wavers.
Switch-hitter Nook Logan has always had Acta in his corner, even though some members of the front office had doubts whether or not Logan could hit in the Major Leagues, especially from the left side of the plate. Logan is a .249 career hitter against right-handers and .322 vs. lefties entering the season. Logan didn't become a switch hitter until he became a professional in the Tigers system.
Doubts about Logan's skills as a hitter were further magnified when Washington picked up outfielder Ryan Langerhans early this month from the Athletics and Logan was on the disabled list with a strained left foot. There was even talk that Langerhans might take playing time away from Logan.
But Acta is the one guy that believes that Logan could one day hit in the top of the lineup. If Sunday was any indication, Logan could be batting second by the second half the season. Logan was the catalyst that helped the Nationals come back from a two-run deficit to defeat the Orioles, 4-3, in front of 29,281 fans at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Washington salvaged the three-game series and improved its record to 16-28.
Logan is not known as a patient hitter. His career .321 on-base percentage can back that up. But his patience at the plate played a role in the Nationals' rally in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Orioles right-hander Danys Baez came in to relieve Chad Bradford, who gave up the leadoff double to Ryan Zimmerman. Baez didn't fare any better as he gave up a one-out RBI single to Ryan Langerhans to make it a 3-2 game.
Three batters and another out later, the bases were loaded when Logan stepped up to plate. Logan was behind in the count, 0-2, and he knew Baez could throw nothing but breaking balls. Logan battled, however.
After fouling off a pitch and taking two pitches for balls, Logan began to think that Baez would start throwing fastballs. Logan fouled off two more pitches and then worked the count to 3-2. All Logan was looking for was a fastball after that.
"Bases loaded, tying run on third, I knew he couldn't go to his breaking stuff," Logan said. "I was trying to have a good at-bat."
"I told you guys in Spring Training that I would love for this kid to work himself into the top of the lineup because he has the skills to do that kind of stuff," Acta said. "Be fair to the kid, he has not hit enough from the left side. He started switch-hitting during the middle of hard A-ball. He was already over 20 years old. Despite everything that is being said, he is still around .270 [during his career]."
The eighth inning wasn't the only time Logan created havoc. In the third inning, Logan started things off with bunt single. One out later, with Felipe Lopez at the plate, Logan stole second and third. A few minutes later, Logan would come home on Lopez's RBI single.
"Stealing the bases makes the situation easier for the guys coming up behind me. With Felipe batting with the infield in, it just helped our team tremendously," Logan said. "I just get on base and create havoc. If I don't steal a base, in the back of the pitcher's mind, they are thinking about me and not making their pitches. He left it over the plate and Felipe got a base hit up the middle."
For the season, Logan is 7-for-23 (307) with a .360 on-base percentage. Logan wants to prove to Acta that he has made the right decision to leave him as the starting center fielder.
"By putting me out there, he lets me know that he has confidence in me. Even in Spring Training, when I was struggling, he had me out there every day," Logan said.
Orioles starter Erik Bedard proved to be too much for the Nationals during the first seven innings. Bedard tied a career high with 12 strikeouts, while giving up the one run in the third.
The Nationals were happy to see Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo pull Bedard out of the game because it gave Washington a chance to make its comeback.
"It was good to see Bedard go," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "It's not like we didn't think we would come back and beat him, but he had some good stuff. To comeback and salvage one of these games -- we could have won every game -- especially the last one was good for us."
Erstwhile reliever Micah Bowie started for the Nationals and threw 69 pitches in 3 1/3 innings. The two runs he gave up were scored in the fourth inning. Jay Payton singled to left to drive in Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora hit a sacrifice fly to send home Aubrey Huff.
The Orioles added to their lead in the sixth when Bedard helped himself with an RBI single off left-hander Billy Traber.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.