Wilson Ramos' first big league homer came on a day when the rookie catcher wasn't even supposed to play. Ivan Rodriguez was in the Nationals' starting lineup on Wednesday, catching Livan Hernandez like he usually does, and Ramos was scheduled for a day off. When a stomach virus sidelined Rodriguez, though, Ramos got his turn.
He made the best of it, going 2-for-3 with a double and a game-tying homer in the fourth inning. The catcher, who was acquired in the trade that sent Matt Capps to the Twins at the end of July, is expected to split starting assignments with Rodriguez next year. He showed a glimpse of why the team is so high on him on Wednesday.
"When he swings the bat, the ball really jumps," manager Jim Riggleman said.
Ramos had never caught Hernandez before; in fact, he'd spent more time working with Mets starter R.A. Dickey, having caught the knuckleballer when both were in the Twins organization. But the two quickly went over a pitching plan after Ramos got word of his start minutes before the first pitch, and Hernandez turned in a quality start with Ramos behind the plate.
"It was very good," Hernandez said. "He's a big guy over there behind home plate. He gives you a good target. It's great. He's very smart."
The Nationals managed only five hits off Dickey, but having seen him with the Twins, Ramos knew how the knuckleballer's stuff looked. He was actually sitting on the knuckleball, instead of waiting for something else from Dickey. And he was the only one to do any damage.
"If you try to pull that pitch, it's a ground ball to third base for sure," Ramos said. "I was trying to stay in the middle, and I hit the ball very good today."