- Elton John blasts Russia’s anti-gay laws during Moscow concert
- U.N.: Afghanistan slow to enforce law protecting women
- Heart cancels SeaWorld concert after ‘Blackfish’ documentary
- South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower American flag for Nelson Mandela
- South Africans hold day of prayer for Nelson Mandela
- Mandela not on life support in final hours, friend says
- Ukraine protesters topple, decapitate Lenin statue in Kiev
- Kim Jong-un’s uncle removed from North Korean state documentary
- Thailand crisis deepens as opposition quits Parliament
- Campbell Soup apologizes for SpaghettiOs’ Pearl Harbor tweet
Nationals gain more ground in playoff hunt as Wilson Ramos stars
Wilson Ramos crossed home plate, pointing his fingers to the sky and then to the stands. He smiled. His 15th home run of the season bounced around in the Red Porch seats in center field as he made his way into the Washington Nationals’ dugout and was swarmed by teammates.
In the 23rd consecutive game Ramos had started — the longest stretch for any catcher in the majors this season — he soaked in the moment.
“He’s hard to take out of the lineup,” said manager Davey Johnson. “We’ve missed him for two years.”
Ramos was the unquestioned star in a game filled with them — Bryce Harper was 3-for-5, Ian Desmond was 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Denard Span went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 26 games — as the Nationals sealed an 11-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on a sunsplashed afternoon at Nationals Park.
But the full value of what the Nationals had done wasn’t felt until almost an hour later, when from within the various corners of the home clubhouse they roared while watching the Milwaukee Brewers complete a furious comeback and walk-off against the Cincinnati Reds.
“Get up! Get up!” came one voice from a largely empty clubhouse as the players scattered to various unseen corners to watch the finish to the Reds game and Sean Halton’s game-winning home run took flight. “Yeah!”
Their playoff hopes hinge now not only on their own performance, which has been exceptional of late with 25 wins in their last 35 games, but on that of the Reds. They cannot get in without help, but they also must continue to win.
“The only thing we can control right now is us winning,” said Jordan Zimmermann, who tossed seven innings and allowed two runs to earn his 18th victory of the season. “But I’ll trade all those [personal] wins in for a spot in the playoffs.”
If the Nationals’ last push for the postseason falls short, one of their biggest unanswered questions will be how much of an impact Ramos may have made had he been healthy all season. After missing most of the 2012 season with a torn ACL and meniscus, Ramos missed 58 of the Nationals’ first 84 games this season with a twice-strained left hamstring.
He’s hit .294 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI since returning.
“I believe in what I can do,” said Ramos. “I know I had two injuries and I lost 2 1/2 months. But I know if I stay healthy all year I can do a better job than what I’m doing right now. The season is not over yet.”
The coaching staff has pushed Johnson to give him a day off during this stretch. Bench coach Randy Knorr, a former major league catcher himself, frets about the 26-year-old’s twice-strained left hamstring. Ramos ices it after games and wraps it during them. He runs methodically to first base on the advice of the coaches.
But his play rarely indicates any strain this stretch is taking on him. Sunday morning, as he reclined in a folding chair in front of his locker, Ramos smiled when asked about his 23rd straight start. “I’m excited,” he said. “Because after today, I may rest.”
Then he played as if it was the first game of this string, going 4-for-4 with five RBI — including three singles and the homer. With his 15th home run of the year he broke his own Nationals record for home runs as a catcher and improved upon his totals for the entire 2011 season. As he soaked in the final out from the dugout, Ramos thought about what he had accomplished on this day.
It was, he figured, the best day he’s ever had in the major leagues.
“All through this, he’s been hitting the heck out of the ball,” Johnson said. “Catching good, throwing people out. … He’s strong like a bull. He shakes my hand every day before the game. It’s the last person I touch before a game and I feel like I got a meat-grinder on me. But he’s fun to watch. Quality at-bats. And today was an unbelievably good day.”
The streak has represented something more for Ramos, though: a chance, quite simply, to prove he could do it.
“Coming from the knee surgery, this is a good test for my knee — for myself — to show everybody I can play everyday, I can play a lot of games,” Ramos said.
“There’s no question [he’s proven it],” Johnson said. “You can get labeled as injury prone. And for him to come back and catch as good and as often as he has, just proves his point. He’s durable.”
The Nationals will welcome the Atlanta Braves to Nationals Park for three games beginning Monday, the end of a 19-game stretch against losing teams in which they went 14-5. The Reds will visit Houston to play the MLB-worst Astros. Maybe, Johnson said, when the Braves series is over, Ramos will get a day off.
“We’re in the race for the wild card and I want to keep helping the team to win games,” Ramos said. “I lost, last year, the opportunity to play in the playoffs because I had knee surgery and this year I want to help the team to make the playoffs and enjoy that moment.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Early snowfall changes to sleet in D.C. area
- Redskins' season hits bottom with Chiefs blowout
- South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower American flag for Nelson Mandela
- Dick Cheney: Family feud over gay marriage has been 'dealt with'
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Film Reviews and Articles by Kevin Williams
"Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better." - Dr. Richard Paul
Go beyond tourism's "top 10" bus tour destinations with Susan McKee as she explores the varied history, culture, food, and gardens, of the world.
When you need to know who is making business, and what business is being made, you need the Business Browser.
Let it snow
White House pets gone wild!