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Ramos hoping to build on strong series vs. Brewers

Aug 24, 2015, 9:11 AM EDT

Aug 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals know they have a long way to go before they can climb out of their current hole in the NL East standings. That said, the feeling among players after Sunday afternoon’s series-clinching win over the Milwaukee Brewers was the hope that their biggest bugaboo in recent weeks — the struggling offense — might finally start to to turn things around.

You can put Wilson Ramos at the top of that list. His mammoth fifth-inning home run off Matt Garza to right-center (measured at an estimated 436 feet) was just his third extra-base hit in the month of August and was his first long ball since July 21.

“It was a good day,” the beaming 28-year-old catcher said at his locker after the game. “That at-bat I was looking for the fastball. He throw me the fastball on the first pitch for a ball. He throw it again, and I was waiting for it.”

Ramos’ struggles at the plate have gone mostly under the radar this season, particularly when compared to the attention that the likes of Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth have received during their respective slumps. But unlike a good chunk of the lineup, Ramos’ health hasn’t been the issue all year. At 95 games played, he’s on pace to play close to a full season for the first time since his breakout 2011 campaign.

In fact, Ramos was willing to show reporters just how eager he is to return to his form from four years ago. As he was talking during his postgame interview, he pulled out one of the many sheets of paper in his locker that featured pictorial differences between his 2011 batting stance and stride at the plate versus what he’s doing recently. It was a lighthearted moment that drew laughter, but was an illustration of what he’s trying to do to resuscitate his power numbers for the season’s stretch run.

“I feel more comfortable right now,” he said. “Those pictures help me to change my approach at home plate. That helped me out a little bit. Today I was swinging great at the plate, seeing the ball good and that help me to go out there and get more confident. I need to get my comfort back.”

It’s easy to forget now, but at one point Ramos was once projected to be one of the better power-hitting catchers in the National League. Even as recently as 2013, he slugged .470 through 78 games, which would have been good for second in the NL at the position had he played in enough games to qualify. Of course, one home run doesn’t cure one’s ails, but Sunday’s moonshot was a reminder that he still has that kind of ability.

“That’s the kind of power he’s got,” said manager Matt Williams. “If he can elevate the pitch and elevate the way he hits the ball then he can do that. Good single to right in the first at-bat and then the homer. Good swings.”

Like many Nats hitters, it’s probably too late for Ramos to finish the season with big-time numbers. But a solid weekend could be the launching pad for happier times during the season’s most critical juncture.

“[It] feels great right now,” Ramos said. “After a bad day, a good day [is] coming. So we have to enjoy every good moment.”

  1. micksback1 - Aug 24, 2015 at 10:15 AM

    enjoyed the park the past 2 days. As the famous Archie Bunker once said, “you can only rent beer”

    OK, so, if Nats go 24-15 the least 39 games and Mets play 500, it is only tied. I am hoping that the fact that the Nats have 13 of next 17 at home and Mets have 13 of next 17 on the road that maybe the Mets play below 500. One thing for sure Nats have to play well above 500 period.

    • natsjackinfl - Aug 24, 2015 at 10:33 AM

      Mick, the rest of us only want to win the next game. Do that and then we can reassess what needs to happen after that. As for the Mets, can’t worry about them until the Nats show they can actually string something together and that can only start with the next game.

      As for Wilson, we’ve seen these mini hot spells for awhile. His ability to hit consistently just hasn’t materialized but we can all hope.

      • micksback1 - Aug 24, 2015 at 1:05 PM

        well said and I agree with you.

        in the mean time, there are still some cool story lines to follow and root for as far as nats fans go and i am sure others may have brought this up:

        1) possible Triple Crown for Bryce

        2) Bryce hitting 40 plus and maybe 90-100 RBI’s

        3) Max and Stras in top 4-5 KO’s

        4) long sgot, but Michael a hitting 20 HR’s?

        that is the one thing about baseball that makes it greater than all other sprts, especially since for the fisrt 99 years 1869-1968 only the AL and NL champs played post season. if your team finished 500 plus and had aleague leader in either wins, ERA, HR’ stolen bases, etc.. it was pretty good season!

  2. NatsLady - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    All you can do is root for the Fillies for the next four days. That’s not as hopeless as it sounds. Yes, today it’s deGrom vs. Adam Morgan. The Mets are heavy favorites (-205) against The Neighborhood, but we’ve seen those odds and lost them (Max, oh, Max!). The good news is the Phils are on a 3-game winning streak. The bad news is the streak was against the Marlins.

    Tomorrow it’s Thor against Jerome Williams. Williams is one of the worst MLB pitchers, with an ERA over 6–but he has managed to win four games, including his most recent effort, seven innings one run against the Padres.

    Wednesday ya got Colon against the rookie Jerad Eickhoff (yes, I had to cut and paste that name). He won his first start, six shutout innings against the Fist. Big Ole Bartolo is 1-4, ERA 6.08 in his last seven starts, and I expect him to go bye-bye as soon as they can bring up Matz, but he has one more loss in him–LET’S HOPE.

    Thursday it’s Harang again. He’s even worse than Colon, 1-5 ERA 7.82 in his last seven starts.

    The Phillies have a good chance to split the series, and if they can get to Thor or deGram, to win it.

    Tomorrow, we have Stras against Shields. Not easy, but if Stras can be what he’s been recently, that’s a good start. Teams have gotten to Shields–we can, too!

    On Wednesday, Max will need to STEP UP against Joe Cool’s brother.

    Thursday we get Cashner. Cashner has been poor this year (5-12, ERA 4.05) and about average recently. Our hitters need to clobber him, because I don’t know how TBD is gonna do. (I assume TBD is Gio).

    Bottom line, we have a reasonable chance in all three games. We can pick up 1.5 if we MAKE THIS HAPPEN (and the Phillies split).

    • NatsLady - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:15 AM

      I should have used the preview button, but you get the idea…

    • natsfan1a - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:32 PM

      Go, you cheesesteaks, go!

    • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 24, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      Hi Natslady – I know your post was intended to promote some optimism, but I think you achieved the opposite. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that Philly splits the series. In fact, I think there is a pretty good chance the Mets sweep the 4-game series in Philly. Not only are the Mets the hottest hitting team in baseball, the pitching match-ups are heavily in favor of the Mets. I think any gambler worth half his salt will certainly put their money on deGrom & Thor over Morgan & Williams in the first two. Then it’s fatolo’s chance and this will be the only opportunity for Washington to make up some ground. However, the guy is like a light switch…however its a pretty consistent light switch. He got pounded in Denver, but he’s due for a gem – or at least a quality start. The 4th and final game will be heavily favored towards the Mets as the first two. Niese has been lights out this season (minus the shelling in Denver & the day he pitched on the birth of his baby).

      As for Washington’s upcoming matchups that you cited, Shields of course will be tough. To compound that, I don’t think the Nat’s have seen him this year. Furthermore, what kind of game will the Nats get with Stras? Then its Ross vs Scherzer. Ross has pitched to the tune of 2.70 era over the last 9 games…6 of which his team won. Scherzer on the other hand has an era of 5.01 while his team has lost 6 of those 9 starts. That final game against Cashner could be the deciding factor in whether or not the Nats get swept. They should be able to hit him, but then again SD will probably get to Gio as well.

      I don’t really see all of the above as something to be optimistic about. In fact, you probably would have generated more optimism by not even posting the upcoming schedule. Washington really needs some breaks over the next 4 days or I can really see the Mets increasing their lead from 5 games to 7 1/2 games (Colon losing 3rd game).

      • therealjohnc - Aug 24, 2015 at 3:03 PM

        Wow, edgs, that’s a overflowing cup of DOOM seasoned with a few shovels of Worst Case Scenario. Recent results mean Scherzer is doomed! But recent results mean nothing for Strasburg, and so Strasburg is doomed! The common element? DOOM!! Niese has been “lights out” this year? He’s below average (ERA+ of 98) and has a 1.343 and a pedestrian K/BB of 2.4. You use that phrase … I don’t think it means what you think it does. Shields “of course” will be tough? Well, maybe. But like Niese Shields’s park-adjusted ERA is actually below average (ERA+ of 97). If you look at Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), Strasburg and Gio are between three quarters and a full run better than Shields and Cashner. Ross’s is better than both Strasburg and Gio … but he’s matched up against Scherzer, whose numbers are better.

        I’m not making any predictions of results – I’m just pointing out that you’re strongly tilting to the worst case scenario. If we assume the Nats struggle while the Mets drive all before them, then my guess is that the Mets win the Division. Going out on a limb there, I know.

        It will be interesting to see how the Mets’ offense adjusts with Lucas Duda going on the DL this past weekend with a bad back.

      • jd - Aug 24, 2015 at 3:50 PM

        Also to say that the Mets are the hottest hitting team in baseball is selective analysis. Yes they made minced meat out of some awful Rocky pitching but only a week ago they couldn’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag against the bottom of the Pirate rotation.

        Like therealjohnc I am not predicting anything. Admittedly the Mets are playing a bottom team but one that has played reasonably well since they switched managers. Let’s let it play out and then will be smarter.

      • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 24, 2015 at 5:03 PM

        Hi jd – They were the hottest offensive team in baseball prior to the rox series. As some of the more qualified baseball analysts put it…the Denver series just emphasized the point.

        Hey John – Don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, I’m just pointing out the upcoming pitching matchups between the Mets/Phillies & Nats/Pads heavily favor the Mets paddling their lead. I think you’ll also see Vegas reflect each and every “doomsday” scenario as well, even in spite of the sabermetrics you’ve provided.

      • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:19 PM

        jjjjjjjjjdddddddddddddd?

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    “. . . the hope that their biggest bugaboo in recent weeks — the struggling offense — might finally start to to turn things around.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Has the offense really been the biggest problem in recent weeks? Certainly it’s been one of two significant problems — offensive and defense — but the biggest?

    Right now, NL average scoring is essentially 4 runs/game. In 22 games in August, the Nats have scored 4 or more runs 14 times. They’ve given up 4 or more runs 13 times. If you think of the ‘bugaboo’ as being unable to either reach the league average in runs scored or to hold the other team to below league average, then I’d say the problem has been fairly evenly distributed between offense and defense.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      The bugaboo all season has been pitching. Over the course of the season every member of the starting rotation, including the $225MM Man, has, at least some of the time, performed well below expectations (you expect a guy being paid $25MM to be able to turn over the game to the bullpen in the seventh or eighth with a lead and Scherzer hasn’t been able to do that since before the All-Star break). Rizzo dismantled the BP in the off-season and got … a dismantled BP with a bunch of counterfeit parts. The bench players hit well enough in the first half of the season, in the right situations, to carry the pitching but Williams has recently been trying to integrate players into the lineup who played like the Orthopedic Ward softball team. I understand it’s necessary to work these guys into the lineup but they undid in July and early August everything the scrubs had accomplished. Strasburg has picked it up, and Ross’s start Saturday was a gem, but why should we be crossing our fingers that Scherzer will have it together by Tuesday night? They can’t get to the finish line with just three reliable starters.

      My fear is that Span’s return will be more on-the-field physical therapy under live-fire conditions. Just as Werth has begun to stabilize the top of the order, the Nats can’t afford a 1-for-24 rehabilitation when the importance of each game is so magnified. My recollection is that Span, in the past, has returned from the DL ready to contribute. But that won’t stop me from worrying.

      I remain, on balance, optimistic. Boswell says the Nats have a fifteen percent chance of making the playoffs but that can’t possibly mean the Mets have an 85 percent chance. The Rendon we saw over the weekend can make the difference on offense. He will make everyone who bats behind him in the order better. With Rendon continuing to hit, plus the home-court advantage and the six head-to-head meetings with the Mets, I think they’ll make it to the top of the division when everything is over.

  4. NatsLady - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    The last two games showed the team as it was supposed to be (less Span and Escobar). I hope our boys see it that way–this is what we are gonna be for the next 39 games!!! This is WHO WE ARE. The press is already laying out the Mets’ playoff rotation. How’s about we sneak up on ’em and show them what we got??!!!!

    • NatsLady - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:22 AM

      Plus, I think the ultimate irony would be the Mets’ fussing so much with their rotation so they’ll be ready for the playoffs–and keeping Harang in it–that they lose the Division.

      • ArVAFan - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:32 AM

        From your keyboard to the baseball gods’ ears!

        PS Good to see you in person over the weekend.

      • NatsLady - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:40 AM

        @ArVAFan, yes, that was fun! Glad I got there early and spotted you. Nice to meet the better half.

    • Met fan - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:53 AM

      The press might be but us mets fans are defidently not if you were on our blog you would think we were on pace to lose 100 games and you guys were 30 games ahead

      • therealjohnc - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:19 PM

        Yeah, I’ve noticed that on other teams’ sites. Every fan base has a Legion of Doom. And oh boy, do LoD members of every fanbase ever love to post and comment!

      • Met fan - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:31 PM

        Honestly I would like us to have clinched the divison with that last series vs you guys but if that series meant something it would make for some very exciting baseball

      • therealjohnc - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:59 PM

        Hey, if the two teams end up tied then it’s a one game playoff for the division, with the better H2H team as the home team. Trea Turner could be the Bucky Dent of 2015!

  5. scnatsfan - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    You have to keep hoping, there isn’t another good option.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      +1

  6. TimDz - Aug 24, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    Off topic (both game wise and geographically):

    This past Saturday, I took my son (along with my brother and nephew) to PNC Park to watch the Pirates/GIants game. Aside from it being a perfect weather day, it was a great game (complete with a walk off homerun) and that park is UNBELIEVEABLE…..We didn’t have the time to walk all the way around the park, but what we saw was great.

    For anyone’s future reference:

    The Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh is a great place to stay and is 4/10 of a mile from the park (you cross over the Clemente Bridge). They charged us $30.00 to park (valet, unlimited drop off and pick up), but we would have paid about that much at the park. We stayed one night ($280.00). Pricy, but all the rooms in the immediate area were that price.

    Market Square was a stones throw from the hotel and we went there after the game (we waited until later and got there before most of the places closed down). Most of the places would probably be closed after a 7PM game. Primanti Bros (not the original one on the strip, but there is one at Market Square) is something everyone should try at least once in their lives.

    Point park is visually stunning and gives you views of the convergence, the incline (along with all of the buildings atop the mountain) and both PNC and Hines Field.

    It was worth the money spent.

    • oldtownatsfan - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      +1

      I was lucky to be at PNC for the one game we won in that series with the Pirates a couple weeks back. Fantastic ballpark and overall baseball experience. Highly recommend folks make the trip…wasn’t even that bad a drive from northern VA.

  7. jfmii - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    5 back with 39 to go. Not ideal, but certainly not unprecedented. We can talk all we want about hitting, but it is pitching, and by extension, fielding, that will provide the Nationals with the chance to overtake the Mets. Scherzer and Zimmermann must return to form, and Gio too. Drew has to get out of his slump and Treinan needs to deliver as promised. Thornton has been solid all year, and I have faith Papelbon will come through when needed (which will be often if the Nats make a run).

    Defensively, sorry but Yunel should take one for the team. Danny at 2nd, Anthony at 3rd is the best alignment, with Danny not giving up too much at the plate. And if the team gets hot and has many late leads, Michael A should be inserted in Left without hesitation

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    For what it’s worth — and I think it’s worth something or I wouldn’t post this — the Nats have a 64-59 Pythagorean record, while the Mets’ is 66-57. In other words, the Nats have been a bit ‘unlucky’ (for lack of a better term) and the Mets a bit lucky. The optimist in me would like to believe that if the Nats can make up a couple of ‘real’ games over the next six weeks, maybe the baseball gods will give back a couple of those Pythagorean games.

    • fstop1970 - Aug 24, 2015 at 12:54 PM

      Every year, at least one if not two teams thought to be left for dead, manage to overtake their division. Unlike 2013, the Nats actually have a real shot at being one of those teams this year. You can believe that Werth, Mad Max and Pap are driving that very point home.

      This could be a real tense and fun ride. Go Nats!

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