As we were conducting interviews in the Nationals’ clubhouse after today’s 11-2 Nats win, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez robbed Reds right fielder Jay Bruce of a home run to keep their game tied in the top of the ninth.
The Nats’ clubhouse exploded with excitement.
Just minutes later, former Nats left-hander Zach Duke - now with the Reds - served up a walk-off homer to Sean Halton, and the Nats’ deficit in the NL wild card race was suddenly cut to 4 1/2 games.
The Nationals did their part today, crushing the Phillies in the finale of the season series with their neighbors to the north. Wilson Ramos did the bulk of the damage, going 4-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs, this in his 23rd straight game starting behind the plate.
“I went to him after the game, I said, ‘Randy (Knorr, bench coach) wants me to rest you. How you feel?’ ” manager Davey Johnson said. “He said, ‘I feel great.’ So he don’t want no rest. He’s been, all through this, he’s been hitting the heck out of the ball. Catching good, throwing people out. He’s hard to take out of the lineup. We’ve missed him for two years. So we’ll ride him.”
Ramos missed much of the season last year with a torn ACL and meniscus, and he missed 58 games this season due to two stints on the DL with a hamstring strain. During this stretch, he’s been able to prove that he can handle a heavy workload.
“Oh there’s no question,” Johnson said. “You can get labeled as injury prone. And for him to come back and catch as good and as often as he has, just proves his point. He’s durable.
“(This streak) can be grueling. The good news is it hasn’t been that hot. It was hot a little bit early, and that was good with his leg. But he’s been getting treatment every day. And he’s strong like a bull. He shakes my hand every day before the game. I’m ready for it. It’s the last person I touch before a game, and I feel like I got a meat-grinder on me. But he’s fun to watch. Quality at-bats, and today was an unbelievably good day.”
Ramos is now up to 15 homers and 55 RBIs in just 68 games played this season.
“Huge difference,” Johnson said. “He’s been missed. (Kurt) Suzuki did a great job, but he couldn’t, wasn’t the kind of player Ramos is. Ramos is a really strong number one. One of the best catchers in the league.
“I’ll check with him tomorrow. I hate to take that weapon out of the lineup, especially, maybe after Atlanta leaves.”
Ramos, of course, wasn’t the only Nats player to do some damage today. Every starter had at least one hit, Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 26 games and Ian Desmond drove in three. The Nats trailed 2-1 after three, then put up 10 runs over their next four innings.
“We hit a lot of balls the first few innings and didn’t have too much to show for it,” Johnson said. “But we finally erupted and it was fun watching.”
Bryce Harper had three hits - including two doubles - today, and he added another outfield assist on a tremendous throw from the warning track in left to get Darin Ruf trying to stretch a single into a double. It was Harper’s 13th outfield assist of the season and third this series.
“He looks good,” Johnson said. “I had a little chat with him before the game, just told him to try to not do too much. Don’t need to hit the ball to the light tower, that kind of thing. He kept looking at me after he’d hit a line drive, hit a double. ‘That’s what you wanted.’ So it was fun. Just a fun all-around day.”
On another note, Johnson said that Stephen Strasburg responded to his throwing session favorably today and will throw a bullpen session tomorrow. Strasburg had been scratched from Friday’s start due to forearm tightness, and is scheduled to now start the 19th against the Marlins.
“He’s fine,” Johnson said. “Felt really good. He’s on track and he’s going to throw a bullpen tomorrow.”