I had an opportunity to write an article that Yahoo Contributor Network chose to publish where I discuss why I think it was more significant for the Nationals to get Wilson Ramos back in the lineup than it was to get Bryce Harper back. Give it a look:
WP – C. Hamels (4-11) LP – T. Jordan (0-2)
S – A. Bastardo (2)
Cole Hammels came into the game a loser of eleven games and the Washington Nationals hitter made him look like a Cy Young candidate. He pitched eight solid innings, giving up one run on six hits, a walk while striking out four. He gave up a solo homerun to Jayson Werth in the second inning and the Nationals didn’t threaten to score again until the eighth, where Ryan Zimmerman and Werth both failed to capitalize on a bases loaded opportunity.
The Nationals scored off the closer in the ninth inning for the second night in a row but it was too little too late. Wilson Ramos drove in Anthony Rendon with a pinch hit double giving him nine RBIs in the four games since his return.
Taylor Jordan pitched an excellent game again, only to see a second consecutive good start go to waste due to errors. In the fourth inning, Kurt Suzuki was charged with an error when he dropped a perfect throw from Werth at the plate allowing Chase Utley to score. Replay showed that Utley failed to touch the plate but Suzuki never applied a tag as he attempted to throw Domonic Brown out at second base.
In the sixth inning, Jordan got Utley to ground into what should have been an easy double play to Adam Laroche, but Laroche threw the ball off of Jimmy Rollins back, allowing the ball to go into centerfield. Ben Revere scored on the errant throw, while Rollins advanced to third base. Michael Young then doubled to centerfield, scoring Rollins and Utley. This was all the Phillies would need to beat the Nationals for the second evening in a row.
The Nationals continued to struggle against left-handed pitching. They came in batting a woeful .215, tonight they continued this trend, batting .218 against Hamels and Bastardo. The coaching staff has got to figure something out, getting batters to adjust their stance against lefties as they are consistently unable to reach the outside strikes that these pitchers are feeding them. If they do not find an answer for this issue in the second half of the season then it will be difficult to reach the postseason.
The Nationals fall to 46-44, and 5-33 in games they fail to score at least three runs.
Additional: Scott Hairston had a fairly successful debut with the Nationals going 2-for-5 leading off, playing leftfield.
Robert Peterson lives in the Washington DC Metro area and has been covering the Nationals since the team moved to the area in 2005
WP – D. Storen (3-2) LP – T. Gorzellany (1-1)
S – R. Soriano (22)
Wilson Ramos has been missing from the Washington Nationals lineup since May 16th. He returned with a bang, hitting a game winning three run homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning along with a two run single in the sixth, giving him 5 RBIs for the day. Taylor Jordan had a great effort in his pursuit of his first win, pitching five and two thirds innings, giving up two runs on six hits. He was in line for the win as he left the game, unfortunately the bullpen couldn’t keep the lead. This is the second solid performance from Jordan since getting called up from AA with Dan Haren on the disabled list.
Tom Gorzellany, a former National, took the loss this Independence Day for the Brewers, as he pitched the sixth and seventh innings, giving up the homerun to Ramos. He also allowed two runners inherited from Burke Badenhop to score. The Brewers starter, Donovan Hand gave up five runs on five innings pitched before yielding to Badenhop.
Besides Ramos, who went 3-4 at the plate, Ian Desmond, Adam Laroche and Jayson Werth all had multi-hit games. The Nationals need to find a way to consistently deliver this kind of performance at the plate to be able to catch the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Ian Desmond also stole two bases in this game giving him a team leading 10 stolen bases for the year.
This is the first time in over a month that the Nationals have had what they would consider their whole lineup back for a game, so hopefully with the return of Ramos this team can win more of the games they are supposed to. It was apparent with today’s performance how much of a difference Ramos is at the plate over Kurt Suzuki.
The Brewers have consistently fought their way back into games this series, this time coming back from a 5-2 deficit with homeruns from Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Gomez off Drew Storen in the seventh inning. That brought the total runs given up by Storen to seven over the last two innings pitched, compounding the inconsistency from the Nationals bullpen that has plagued them all season. Ramos came to Storen’s rescue in the bottom of the inning with his homerun to put the Nationals in the lead for good.
Bryce Harper continues to struggle since his return. His first at bat back from injury was a homerun but Harper has gone 0-for-15 since then. Opposing pitchers seem to be pitching Harper strictly away, using breaking balls and off speed pitches to keep Harper from pulling the ball.
The win today gave the Nationals a split of this four game series, and brought their season record to 43-42. The Nationals improve to 38-10 when they score more than three runs.
Robert Peterson lives in the Washington DC Metro area and has been covering the Nationals since the team moved to the area in 2005.