Before we get to some extras off the Nationals’ win, check out Ryan Zimmerman’s thoughts after he went 0 for 3 at Class A Potomac, courtesy of Chelsea Janes.
How does a hitter get thrown five balls during one at-bat in a major league game? Wilson Ramos found out Friday night. It happened something like this.
Leading off the sixth inning of the Nationals’ 9-2 win, Ramos took a ball on a 2-2 pitch. Home plate umpire Scott Barry, according to Ramos, declared the count 3-2. Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez turned and asked, “Isn’t it 2-2?”
“Yeah, Barry replied. “2-2.”
“It’s not 3-2?” Ramos asked Barry.
“No, it’s 2-2,” Barry said.
Ramos shrugged and went back to the at-bat.
“I said in my mind, ‘That’s three balls,’ ” Ramos said. “That’s okay. Five balls. I’ll take it.”
In the Nationals’ dugout, they thought something was amiss, but never acted upon their suspicion.
“You always say, ‘Hey, are we right on the count?’ ” Manager Matt Williams said. “So we all kind of looked at each and went, ‘Huh, I thought that was ball four.’ But we got a lot going on over there. We’re talking a lot about different situations. So we missed that one.”
Ramos drew a walk, anyway, and the Nationals won in a rout, so there was little controversy to Barry’s gaffe – and the Nationals’ inability to detect it.
Maybe, Ramos can still get something out of it. Perhaps a free balls in his first at-bat the next game?
“I will check tomorrow,” Ramos said.
>>> The Nationals pounded 15 hits Friday night, and in the box score Danny Espinosa’s 0-for-3-with-a-walk vanished among the offensive heroics. But when Williams ticked off the names that stood out to him, he mentioned Espinosa.
“The [at- bats] I’m probably most pleased with are Danny’s,” Williams said.
On Thursday, the Nationals had an off day. But Espinosa knew Ryan Zimmerman would be heading to the park for batting practice as part of his rehab. And so Espinosa asked hitting coach Rick Schu if he could show up, too. Schu obliged, and so Espinosa headed to work on his day off.
“There was a thing we were kind of working on,” Espinosa said. “We wanted one more day to do it. Just wanted to come back in and kind of feel it some more.”
Williams had held Espinosa out of the lineup for several days as he worked on an adjustment, not wanting him to make a mechanical change in game.
“I was stepping across my body really bad, closing myself off,” Espinosa said. “It wasn’t allowing me to get to pitches. I was just trying to keep my stride straight to where I could cover the pitches I wanted to cover.”
In his first at-bat, Espinosa smoked a two-hopper to second base. He flied out to center and he hit a sharp grounder to third for his other two outs. He had no hits to show for his extra work, but it was enough to make him confident it will come.
“I felt free,” Espinosa said. “I felt like my hands could work. I felt like I wasn’t fighting myself. I felt alright.”
“He saw the ball really good tonight and was right on everything,” Williams said.
Since he came into the majors, Espinosa has garnered a reputation for his work ethic, and sometimes swinging too much. Davey Johnson often told him to tone down his swinging, to think less. Williams had no problems with Espinosa’s extra batting practice.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little work,” Williams said.
>>> The Nationals pulled away to a degree that no single run mattered all that much, but Denard Span’s aggressive base running in the fourth inning created a run from thin air.
Span led off with an eight-pitch at-bat against Colby Lewis, which he ended with a liner to right for a single, his second hit of the game. Span took off with a pitch, and Anthony Rendon hit a slow roller to third base. Adrian Beltre charged and fired to first baseman Mitch Moreland. Span never stopped – as Beltre released it, he sprinted around second.
“My instincts just took over,” Span said. “I knew it was going to be tough for Moreland to catch the ball and throw me out at third. It’s just me being aggressive right there.”
As Span slid into third, Moreland’s throw across the diamond squirted away from Beltre. Span dashed home to put the Nationals up, 4-2, and take three bases on a soft grounder to third.
“That’s what we need from him,” Ian Desmond said. “I was kind of giving you a hard time – what took you so long? Me and him kind of push each other on the stolen bases. He’s got a little lead on me now. But my legs are starting to feel good.”