Wilson Ramos' appearance in the cleanup spot tonight, his second of the season, coincides with his worst slump of the season. He was in a 1-for-21 skid coming into tonight, which had dropped his average for the season to .267 after he was above .300 all the way through April.
Manager Jim Riggleman's decision to put him there had as much to do with a left-hander (Paul Maholm) being on the mound as anything else.
"I'm not looking for a classic cleanup hitter, a home run-type run producer," Riggleman said this afternoon. "We're just looking to send up as many good hitters in a row as we can against this left-hander. But I have a lot of confidence in his ability to hit. His stroke has got away from him a little bit lately, but he's such a good hitter, we feel like any day now, he's going to come out of it."
Ramos got started in the first inning, driving a Maholm fastball to left for a RBI single. The Nationals and Pirates are tied at one in the second.
Riggleman also said today the Nationals have to keep developing Ramos even when he's not hitting well and Ivan Rodriguez is having games like he did yesterday. The 23-year-old is a talented offensive player, but he's going to go through slumps as he adjusts to major league pitching. The Nationals will hope that his single in his first at-bat tonight marks a turnaround.