In their last five games, the Nationals have scored either >8 runs or <1. At least today, they were able to score without any hits from Bryce Harper. Even without hitting, Harper contributed to the offense in a very underrated way. The Nats walked five times today, which led to two runs scored. Before today, the Nats were averaging just 2.65 walks per game. Davey Johnson preaches aggressiveness at the plate, which can be good, but getting on base is a critical part of any offense. Today was just another flash of what the Nationals are capable of, although it was a bad flash for Drew Storen. Even Taylor Jordan pitched well, allowing just two runs in 5.2 innings and falling just short of getting a quality start in his second career start. Games like today, with timely hitting and good response to adversity, are why the Nationals can still make the playoffs. Games like yesterday are why they’re just one game over .500.
Jul 4, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) takes a curtain call after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Most Important Nationals Hit: Wilson Ramos‘ three-run homer (+36.8%)
Much like Harper, Ramos came back from the DL in a big way, and his day was definitely the better of the two. After Storen allowed three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 5, Ramos came to the plate with two runners on (one via the walk!) and sent Brandon Kintzler‘s pitch deep to left and over the Milwaukee bullpen. His bat has the potential to be great, which is why it’s so critical to have him healthy, as he has been for just 15 games this season.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Carlos Gomez‘s two-run home run (-30.1%)
After Storen allowed a solo homer to Yuniesky Betancourt with one out in the seventh the seventh, the stadium tensed up. The memory of him breaking the scoreless tie and allowing four runs two days ago was still fresh, and fans (unfairly) still don’t trust him since Game 5 of the NLDS. He deserves the fans’ confidence in him, but when he doesn’t have it, he can lose confidence in himself fast, and he did. Even after recording a strikeout to put him one out away from getting out of the inning, he allowed a single and Gomez’s bomb to tie the game, eliciting heavy boos.
Champ of the Game: Ramos (+43.4%) had a career game, going 3-4 with five RBIs and a run scored. Assuming he has fully healed from the hamstring that torpedoed the first half of his season, he will be a force in the Nationals’ lineup for the rest of the season. For the Brewers, Gomez (+30.7%) was 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. He would have come to the plate with two on and one out in the ninth, but was pulled in a double switch in the seventh. Thanks, Ron Roenicke.
Chump of the Game: Storen (-32.3%) allowed three runs on three hits in one inning. He has allowed seven runs (five earned) in his past two outings, prompting some to say he has “lost it” and should be traded or demoted, but where were those people when he was scoreless in 16 of his previous 17 outings? Kintzler (-39.3%) allowed two runs on a hit and a walk, including Ramos’ homer. The third runner was allowed by ex-Nat Tom Gorzelanny, who Kintzler replaced.