ATLANTA - While everyone around him in the Nationals clubhouse was dragging this morning - players, coaches and reporters included - Kurt Suzuki was bouncing around looking ready to play at about 10:45 a.m.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re the only position player on either team not to see action in the 15-inning marathon that went on last night.
Suzuki will be behind the plate for the Nats today, giving Wilson Ramos a break after he caught all 15 innings last night. Ramos needed to miss two games earlier in the week after aggravating a hamstring injury, but he’s gotten a heavy workload the past two contests.
Still, he’s not complaining. Far from it.
“I was ready for 15 or 20,” Ramos said of last night’s game. “Right now, I feel a little bit tired. That happens. You play 15 innings like that, you don’t feel tired in the moment. You feel tired the next day.”
Ramos says he’ll be ready to start again tomorrow, and didn’t rule out appearing in this afternoon’s series finale against the Braves, either.
“If they need me today,” he said, “I will be ready.”
It was pretty cool hearing a couple of players describe the scene in the Nats clubhouse during extra innings last night, with the three ejected Nats - manager Davey Johnson, Stephen Strasburg and Scott Hairston - and the relievers who had already pitched crowding around a clubhouse TV, watching the action.
They yelled at the TV about ball and strike calls, discussed pitch selection, and started shouting and giving high fives when Adam LaRoche crushed his game-winning homer in the 15th.
“It was like watching the game at home with a bunch of buddies,” reliever Tanner Roark said.
Roark had quite a day yesterday. He came out of the bullpen unexpectedly in the second inning after Strasburg was ejected, delivered four scoreless frames, and even smoked an RBI double to the track in left-center, his first major league hit and RBI.
That double led to sarcastic text messages from friends telling him that he only had “warning-track power” and that he needed to hit the weight room.
“That’s the most memorable thing I’ve had thus far,” Roark said. “Pitching against the Braves, too. They’re in first. And hitting a double, it’s just crazy. Unbelievable. But it was fun, and it was a great, great win.”
LaRoche might’ve smacked the game-winning homer last night, but doing so ruined another chance for LaRoche to fulfill a career-long goal: pitch in a major league game.
The Nats first baseman was twice drafted by the Marlins as a pitcher - in 1998 and 1999 - but turned the team’s contract offer down because he wanted to go pro as a position player. The scout that tried to sign LaRoche was actually sitting behind me in the press box last night, and said that LaRoche had the smoothest arm action he’s ever seen and would touch 94 mph on the radar gun.
LaRoche might not have wanted to pitch full-time as a pro, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t hoping he gets an opportunity in mop-up duty or late in extras at least once. He made two appearances in relief in the minors, getting a win with high Single-A Myrtle Beach in 2001, and would be the first position player the Nats would turn to if they ran out of pitchers and were in a bind.
He’s sure of that because he joked that if Johnson tried to give the ball to any other position player, LaRoche would flip out.
Meanwhile, last night wasn’t all roses and gumdrops. Rafael Soriano allowed a game-tying homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, his second straight blown save.
Soriano has now allowed six runs in his last three outings and would have three straight blown saves if not for Denard Span’s miraculous diving catch against the Giants on Wednesday. Still, despite Soriano’s recent struggles, Johnson said he isn’t concerned about his closer.
“He’s a heck of a pitcher and the ball was just up,” Johnson said last night. “He looked like he was throwing pretty good. These guys are swinging the bat pretty good. They hit four home runs (Saturday night into Sunday) and it wasn’t just off of him. He’ll be back, he’ll be fine.”
What did Ramos see from Soriano?
“You know, it’s hard to say something because I don’t have too many times catching him,” Ramos said. “But for me, he’s good. Fastball’s good, cutter’s good, slider’s good, too. But that happens in the game. You can’t say nothing more.”
Update: They’re calling for rain all day today, and some of that rain has just hit Turner Field.
It’s pouring here, and the tarp is on the field. It’s not looking likely that we’ll start this game on time.
Goody. Just what we all wanted after a 5 hour, 29 minute ballgame last night.