After missing 44 games with a left hamstring injury, Wilson Ramos returned to the Majors with a vengeance, powering the Washington Nationals to an 8-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on the Fourth of July.
Ramos went 3-for-4, knocking in a career-high five RBIs in Thursday’s matinee game. His five RBIs were more than welcomed after Drew Storen spoiled a potential win situation for rookie Taylor Jordan.
Jordan’s rockiest inning was the first. After Norichika Aoki flied out to left, Jordan hit Jean Segura with a runaway two-seamer. With two outs, Jonathan Lucroy singled home Segura to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
But, the Nationals responded quickly.
Ian Desmond recorded his first of three hits on the day – a single up the middle. Bryce Harper walked and Adam LaRoche singled home Desmond to tie the game. Before right-handed reliever-turned-starter Donovan Hand (ND, 0-1) could pitch out of the inning, Jayson Werth singled home Harper to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
In the third, the Nats added another to the scoreboard with a Ian Desmond single, Bryce Harper walk and Ryan Zimmerman sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
Before the Nats called upon Ross Ohlendorf for relief, Jordan gave up one last run in the form of a Juan Francisco single that brought home Gomez to trim Washington’s lead to just one run. Jordan’s final line was decent, nonetheless: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 K with 60 of 85 pitches for strikes.
Burke Badenhop took the mound in the sixth, only to quickly allow singles to LaRoche and Werth. Then, with bit of an awkward attempt at a no-out bunt, Rendon chopped it just shy of the mound. Third baseman Juan Francisco booted it – taking away an opportunity for the Brewers to turn two, if not three – only to gift the Nats with three base runners.
Who, then, should step to the plate for the Nats but Ramos once again?
On a 2-1 count, Ramos singled up the middle to plate LaRoche and Werth, giving the Nationals a three-run cushion.
Pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi advanced Rendon and Ramos to third and second, respectively with a sacrifice bunt off former National Tom Gorzelanny.
And then, it happened. Gorzelanny intentionally walked Desmond… to get Harper.
The strategy worked perfectly – in fact, Harper grounded to first on the first pitch he saw.
Just to make things interesting, Drew Storen took the mound in the top of the seventh. After forcing Jeff Bianchi to bunt into a groundout, Storen gave up a long ball to Yuniesky Betancourt, which made it 5-3.
With two outs, Segura singled to center before Carlos Gomez socked an 82 MPH slider over the left field wall to tie the game.
While it is often said that you can’t judge a pitcher by his win-loss column, Thursday’s game proved exactly that.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Nationals handed Storen the lead, despite his three runs allowed in one inning pitched. Werth singled with two outs before Brandon Kintzler relieved Gorzelanny. Kintzler then walked Rendon, which set up the perfect opportunity for – that’s correct – Wilson Ramos.
On the second pitch he saw from Kintzler, Ramos knocked a three-run shot over the wall in left, to make it 8-5 Nationals.
Tyler Clippard provided a hitless inning of relief before Rafael Soriano took the mound in the ninth. Soriano nearly pitched into trouble, giving up a walk and a single with just one out. But, the Nationals’ closer struck out Aramis Ramirez and forced Lucroy to ground out to close the book on the Nationals’ 8-5 win.
THE GOOD: Welcome back, Wilson Ramos. After 50 days on the DL, the Nationals’ beloved catcher had one of the biggest days of his Major League career – going 3-for-4 with 5 RBIs, a run scored and one strikeout.
Ian Desmond performance was also top-notch. The shortstop went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk and one strikeout.
Taylor Jordan also should not be forgotten. His stint fell short of remarkable, but it showed promise, nonetheless. Even more than his final line – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER 3 K – his slider looked fantastic, particularly at the start of the game.
THE BAD: Drew Storen earned the blown-save-win. He pitched just one inning, allowing three runs on three hits – including two home runs.
THE UGLY: While it caused no damage to the Nationals’ performance Thursday, Jordan looked comically awkward in the batter’s box on more than one occasion.
NEXT GAME: Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET vs. San Diego Padres at Nationals Park – Andrew Cashner (5-3, 3.31) Gio Gonzalez (5-3, 3.09 ERA)