After Wilson Ramos’ 0-for-4 effort on Saturday, manager Matt Williams said he was “not quite there yet, but it’s close,” in terms of his offensive production after coming back from injury.
Williams likely did not predict that the resurgence of Ramos’s bat was so “close” that he would carry the Washington Nationals’ (23-20) offense a mere 18 hours later in their 6-3 win over the New York Mets (20-23).
Ramos went 2-for-3 on Sunday with a walk and a pair of two-RBI hits – a double and a single. He and Ian Desmond, who went 2-for-4 with a huge home run that cleared the visitors’ bullpen in the second inning, were the offensive leaders. Together they smacked four of the Nationals’ seven hits, and drove in five of six runs.
Despite Ramos’ knockout performance, Williams maintained that his swing is still just close to its full potential. If what we saw from Ramos today wasn’t 100 percent, the Nationals’ upcoming opponents should be frightened of what’s coming.
Williams also remarked that Desmond has been successfully breaking out of a slump. He is hitting .346 over his last seven games with three home runs and eight RBIs. In the seven games before that, he was hitting just .130.
“Desi looks a lot better at the plate,” Williams said. “The most impressive bat for me today was him working a count, and he blooped it in there [in the eighth inning], but he sold out to try to get Wilson to third. That’s team baseball.”
Though no other Nationals besides Ramos and Desmond had multiple hits, Anthony Rendon was a quietly productive member of the Nationals’ offense. He went 1-for-1 with a single in his first three-walk game, and scored a run in the third inning.
Jordan Zimmermann kept the game close for the Nationals offense over his six-inning, 92-pitch performance. Though Williams said Zimmermann had run out of gas by the end of his outing, he pitched well down in the zone, and allowed just three runs on eight hits and two walks.
Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano – all of whom have ERAs under 2 – combined for three hitless innings, lowering the bullpen’s ERA to 2.07, second best in baseball. Storen has allowed one earned run in his last 11 appearances, and Sunday his ERA dropped to 1.26. Clippard’s outing was his 14th without allowing an earned run. Soriano closed out his 10th save, tied with Craig Kimbrel for sixth-most in the majors.
If the bullpen keeps dominating as it has been, the Nationals are in good shape to weather injuries to their starters, like Gio Gonzalez, whose encouraging MRI results were announced after the game and revealed no structural damage to his left shoulder.
With the win, the Nationals momentarily moved into a tie for first place in the NL-East with the Atlanta Braves, who beat the St. Louis Cardinals later on in the afternoon. Though their grip on first place was brief, it showed how close they could come to overtaking the division. However, the standings didn’t much phase Williams.
“There’s a lot of baseball left, I know that,” Williams said. “We have the philosophy that good, bad or indifferent today is over with, and we have to look now toward the Reds and try to beat them.”