- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wilson Ramos wielded a pink bat Sunday afternoon as clouds rolled in over Nationals Park. He glanced at first base, where Ryan Zimmerman, the potential go-ahead run, stood with two outs in the eighth inning. Ramos thrives in these situations.

“I was waiting for one pitch in the zone,” he said.

When that one pitch arrived, Ramos pulled his pink bat toward the ball and smashed it to right field, just beyond the outstretched arms of Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis. Ramos wasn’t sure if a double would score Zimmerman from first, but it did, and the fact that the Ramos was tagged out on the basepaths shortly thereafter didn’t matter. His double had put the Washington Nationals back in front, and they went on to win the game because of that run, 5-4.

Ramos‘ second hit of the game gave Washington its first series sweep of the year, and its fourth consecutive series victory. Since Dan Uggla hit a go-ahead three-run homer in Atlanta to cap a 13-12 victory, the Nationals have won 10 of 12 games.

“I thought from the beginning we were going to get going,” said right fielder Bryce Harper, who went 2-for-4 on Sunday. “I don’t know if it was just one game that got us going, but of course that huge homer by Uggla was definitely something that sparked us a little bit. And we just kept it going.”



Ramos also went 2-for-4 on Sunday and extended his hitting streak to 13 games, one shy of his career-best. The afternoon was particularly special for the burly 27-year-old catcher because, at least to his recollection, it was the first time he’s played on Mother’s Day. The players wore pink gloves, arm sleeves and cleats for the occasion, and photos of Nationals players with their moms were shown on the jumbotron.

All day, Ramos said his thoughts were with his mother and his wife, Yeli, who gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl, in August.

“It feels great. Especially on this day,” Ramos said. “Now, got my daughter last year, and play this game for my mom and my wife, so that made me feel very excited.”

The hype this season has often surrounded Harper, who hit six homers and drove in 12 runs in a span of three games last week, but Ramos has been a valuable part of the lineup, too. His .327 batting average leads the team, and he went 8-for-18 with three doubles and two walks during Washington’s six-game homestand.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Ramos has avoided injuries and appeared in 26 of the team’s 32 games.

“For a couple years now, I’ve always said I want to see what that guy can do with 120, 130 games,” Zimmerman said. “If he can stay healthy to the end of the year, it’s another guy that can put up 20 home runs. It’s hard to find a catcher that can do that. He always has good at-bats, seems to come up big in a lot of key situations.”

Ramos hit an RBI single in the first inning to go along with his RBI double in the eighth. In between, he helped guide starter Jordan Zimmermann, who later said he struggled to locate his fastball over six laborious innings.

Zimmermann gave up two runs in the second and another in the third as his pitch count began to rise, but he managed to hold the Braves there. The game was tied when he exited after throwing 107 pitches.

“You’re going to have games like that,” Zimmermann said. “You’re not going to be perfect all the time. You just have to battle and find a way. I was able to do that.”

The same could be said of the Nationals as a whole. After trudging through the first three weeks of the season, then scoring only four runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins, their season has taken a turn. Their lineup has consistently delivered, their once-spotty defense has stabilized and their pitching has been as steady as advertised.

“We’re more excited right now because winning. We’re doing a really good job,” Ramos said. “Going on the road after this homestand, it’s really good for the team because we’ve got a lot of energy, feeling great right now. It’s‘ good for the team.”

Notes

After Sunday’s game, manager Matt Williams announced his rotation for Washington’s upcoming series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Max Scherzer will start Monday, Stephen Strasburg will go Tuesday and Gio Gonzalez will pitch Wednesday. Yunel Escobar exited Sunday’s game in the fourth inning because he was dealing with a stomach bug. … A team spokesperson said Anthony Rendon was not available to speak with reporters Sunday. The infielder has yet to field questions about the strained oblique muscle that has delayed his return to the Nationals.

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