There are many factors to explain why a team goes on a roll. The big reasons usually center around timely hits, solid defense and quality pitching.
Two other factors are veteran leadership and a bench that contributes.
The Nationals are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, the longest streak in almost two seasons, dating to an eight-game streak in August 2009.
In Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Orioles, Washington displayed one of those key ingredients in successful teams: a bench that features future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has watched young catcher Wilson Ramos get more playing time in the first 70 games of the season, but has not pouted or complained.
Given a start Saturday, Rodriguez slapped a key RBI double, threw the Orioles’ Derrek Lee out at second on a steal attempt and called Jordan Zimmermann’s fifth win of the season. Rodriguez was instrumental in calming the young right-hander down when he was struggling early to get ahead in counts.
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said that is what you can expect from a player of Rodriguez’s caliber.
“He is a professional,” Zimmerman said. “I think he loves to play this game. Whether he is playing every day or or he is playing two times a week, when it is his turn to play, he is going be out there and to give you the best effort that he has. I think that is what you are going to see from him until he stops playing baseball. That is just the way he has been taught.”
The platoon favors Ramos, and Rodriguez has been his perfect tutor, especially with the biggest statistic for a catcher being caught-stealing numbers.
The Nationals have two of the best at it in the majors. Ramos has caught 12 of 24 (50 percent) runners attempting to steal. Rodriguez has gunned down nine of 19 baserunners (47 percent).
Rodriguez said the throwing game has always been a point of emphasis for him with Ramos.
“We are working very hard,” Rodriguez said.”That is very good to have two catchers that are throwing people out, (Ramos) and I. We want to try to maintain that. (Ramos) is doing a tremendous job of throwing people out, calling games and also offensively, too. I am doing the same thing.”
Rodriguez said he worked with Ramos in spring training on limiting opponents’ attempts to steal second base.
“He has the ability,” Rodriguez said. “He has a very strong arm. He is young. I am very happy for him that he is doing (so well).”