There hasn’t been much winning lately for the Washington Nationals, whose 6-4 loss to the visiting New York Mets was their fifth in six games. Certainly Washington’s players want to be assessed on actual victories rather than those of the moral variety, but these days, minor accomplishments are about as good as it gets.
Such was the attitude from catcher Wilson Ramos, who belted two solo homers and was virtually the only offense for the Nationals. In addition to Ramos’s homers, he also had an RBI in the eighth inning to draw Washington to within 5-4. Jayson Werth provided the Nationals with their other run with a solo homer, his fourth this season.
“If we had won, I would feel more excited,” said Ramos, who went 3 for 4 with three RBI and two runs.
The Nationals have high hopes for Ramos, 23, and are grooming him to replace Ivan Rodriguez, a likely future Hall of Famer. Rodriguez, 39, has played in 11 games this season and is hitting .194. In 14 games, Ramos is hitting .378.
At the start of the season, Manager Jim Riggleman had intended on alternating Ramos and Rodriguez every other day for the first nine games. But Riggleman eventually decided to grant Ramos more playing time, and last night’s performance showed exactly the type of potential and power he possesses.
“You hate to have a guy hit a couple homers in a losing cause, but it was a good night for him,” Riggleman said. “He’s a good player, and he’s really taken to instruction real well from Pudge. He works real hard to communicate a lot. It’s a nice thing to see the relationship develop between those two guys.”
It’s not just Ramos’s offense that has been on the upswing. Thanks to guidance from Rodriguez, one of the most accomplished catchers of his generation, Ramos also has learned how to manage pitchers better.
Last night Ramos earned praise from starter Jordan Zimmermann, who lost his third consecutive game but according to Riggleman pitched at a level conducive to winning.
Zimmermann yielded five earned runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. He issued no walks and struck out one before departing for Doug Slaten after giving up consecutive singles. Mets catcher Josh Thole then laced a double into left field and fell to the ground just out of the reach of Michael Morse to clear the bases for what would be the winning runs.
“He’s great behind the plate, and he’s finally hitting some home runs and feeling good at the plate,” Zimmermann said of Ramos. “He caught a great game and did a great job and brought the bat too.”
Ramos said he had been swinging too hard in recent at-bats while trying to pull the ball. Last night, he focused on getting the ball to the middle of the field. Instead, two of them wound up over the fence for the second and third homers of his major league career.
“It feels great when I hit the ball to the middle,” Ramos said. Mets starter Chris Young “threw me a couple pitches inside, and I hit the ball pretty good.”
FROM THE POST
The Nationals belted three homers, but the Mets chased starter Jordan Zimmermann in the sixth and collected 12 hits to win the first of a three-game series.
FROM THE MINORS
Harrisburg 4, Altoona 1: Starter Erik Davis worked six scoreless innings, and the Senators used a three-run fifth for the home win.
West Virginia 8, Hagerstown 5: Bryce Harper hit his fourth career home run in the first inning and his third in four games.
Syracuse vs. Toledo, PPD.
Potomac at Myrtle Beach, PPD.