Lucas Giolito got most of the attention last night and deservedly so, despite the odd nature of his rain-shortened, major league debut. But there were some other noteworthy developments during the Nationals' 5-0 victory over the Mets, so let's give some of those their due ...
* Wilson Ramos continues to hit as well as any hitter in baseball. With a 2-for-4 night that included a two-run double, the Nats catcher extended his current hitting streak to 11 games, during which he's batting .383 with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs.
But this, of course, is merely an extension of a brilliant first half of the season by Ramos, who is now hitting a cool .343 (leaving him only six points behind teammate and major league leader Daniel Murphy).
Ramos also is scoring a lot of runs, 33 of them for the season, seven of those coming during this 11-game hitting streak. He bulldozed his way around the bases on Anthony Rendon's second-inning triple last night, the latest example of third base coach Bob Henley not being afraid to wave in the affectionately nicknamed Buffalo.
"I consider myself a pretty good baserunner," Ramos said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. "I'm not a fast baserunner, by no means, but I do consider myself being able to read the ball very well off the bat and being able to get a good jump and run the bases very well. I've talked to Bobby about that, and we've both talked, and obviously he says: 'If this situation comes up, and I see it's going to be a close play, I'm going to send you.' So I've been ready every time rounding the bases hard, and just in case he does send me I prepare to make sure I'm ready to go all the way home."
* The biggest blast of the game came from none other than Bryce Harper, who launched a 1-1 fastball from left-hander Jerry Blevins into the right field bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, turning a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 cushion.
It was as well as Harper has struck a ball to the pull side, particularly off a left-hander, in some time.
"It felt good," said Harper, who now has 16 homers for the season. "Coming off of that rain delay, I worked on some things, I felt good. Just came out there, tried to get a pitch up in the zone and got one from Blevy. I knew going into the at-bat that he throws that cutter, and he's pretty dang good against lefties. ... So just try to get a pitch up, got one and did some damage."
* Because of a 1-hour, 25-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fourth, Giolito had to be pulled despite his success (four scoreless innings) and low pitch count (45). A quartet of Nationals relievers, though, picked up where their rookie teammate left off and finished the shutout in impressive fashion.
Yusmeiro Petit got into a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, but Oliver Perez bailed him out by striking out James Loney and getting Wilmer Flores to fly out to center. Perez was awarded the win by the official scorer, who by rule couldn't give it to Giolito because he didn't last the requisite five innings.
Sammy Solis then continued his strong run as the club's new setup man, tossing a scoreless seventh and eighth inning, before Shawn Kelley closed out what had then become a five-run lead.
"Our bullpen did an outstanding job," manager Dusty Baker said. "Especially when they were threatening there, Perez came in and slammed the door. That was big. That was real big."
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