Ramos went for an MRI exam after the game as the Nationals made plans to summon a catcher from their farm system. Saturday night, they had not learned how long they would be without Ramos. But they knew, with Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Drew Storen already on the disabled list, they would face another test.
“Losing Willy is a big, big blow,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t know how bad it is. I have a bad feeling he tore something in there and it’s going to be a while. Just keep our fingers crossed. But right now, it’s not good at all.”
Ramos earlier had provided one of the game’s pivotal blows, a 409-foot home run to center field in the fifth inning, his third this season. Second baseman Danny Espinosa continued to extricate himself from a vicious, year-long slump, crushing his second homer in as many games to put the Nationals ahead in the sixth. Jordan Zimmermann made his scant support stand up, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings while striking out nine. “The best I’ve felt all year,” Zimmermann said.
Rather than bask in their third straight victory, though, the Nationals absorbed what may have been a potentially crushing development. Ramos, 24, is considered a primary piece of the team’s foundation, “our backstop for the next 10 years,” General Manager Mike Rizzo has said.
Ramos endured a harrowing kidnapping saga in his native Venezuela this winter, spending 48 hours abducted by captors. He arrived at spring training grateful and eager to move past the incident. Though he has regressed on defense, Ramos had been one of the Nationals’ most consistent hitters this season.
In the seventh inning, Zimmermann fired a 93-mph fastball beyond the right edge of the plate. Ramos lunged for the ball, which deflected off his glove and trickled behind him. As he scooped up the ball, his spike caught in the grass and his knee buckled, bending unnaturally sideways.
“He was trying to plant on his back foot,” Zimmermann said. “It twisted a little bit.”
Ramos crumpled to the ground and lay on his stomach, his face in the grass, until Nationals trainers arrived. Ramos came off the field with both arms around a Nationals trainer, no weight on his right leg.
Jesus Flores replaced Ramos, shepherding Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez — who struck out the side on 10 mind-bending pitches in the ninth — through two scoreless innings. Eight Nationals players, including many of their best, have spent time on the disabled list this year.