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Ramos hitting (and catching) like never before

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Ramos hitting (and catching) like never before

PHOENIX — The Nationals have always known Wilson Ramos could hit, with the obvious caveat always inserted to the end of that statement: “If he stays healthy.”

Well, Ramos has stayed healthy through the season’s first six weeks. And he has hit. The question is: Could the Nationals have known he could hit quite like this, with a .320 batting average that ranks among the league leaders and a 14-game hitting streak that is the majors’ current best?

“We know he can hit,” manager Matt Williams said. “For him, it’s a question of health and being able to get out there every day. We’re trying to pick our spots in giving him days off and making sure we take care of him, too. But the way he’s hitting, he’s a vital part of our offense.”

It’s tough to fault the logic, because Ramos has been key to the Nationals’ offensive resurgence over the last two weeks. His 14-game hitting streak began four nights before the Nats’ record-setting comeback win in Atlanta, which has sparked this team to 11 wins in its last 13 games entering Tuesday.

Ramos’ .320 batting average leads all qualified NL catchers and ranks second only to Oakland’s Stephen Vogt among all MLB catchers.

“I feel comfortable at the plate right now,” he said. “I’m working in the cage with [hitting coach] Rick Schu. He helps me a lot. And I’m doing my routine. That routine helps me to concentrate and get a good pitch to hit. That’s what I’m doing right now. I have to keep it going. That’s good for me, good for the team, because I’m helping the team a lot. That’s my job. I have to keep it going.”

A career .269 hitter prior to this season, Ramos has taken his game to another level. One key: He has made progress in laying off pitches outside the zone, a longstanding issue. His strikeout rate of 14.8 percent is down from 16.1 percent entering 2015.

“I feel like the experience I’ve got the past few years has helped me to go out and play and be more patient, get a good pitch to hit,” he said. “Sometimes, I try to do too much. That’s the reason I miss a ball. But that happens in the game. The game’s emotions made me do that. But I have to keep doing what I’m doing, be more patient, get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on the ball.”

Ramos also has to keep himself in the lineup, something he’s never been able to do in his career. He has, however, worked extensively on physical conditioning, particularly in his legs, and on Tuesday was scheduled to catch his 27th game, putting him on pace for 129 games behind the plate this season. (Only Cardinals All-Star Yadier Molina has caught more games so far among NL catchers in 2015.)

“I know it’s a tough position, but I’m working every day with my legs, that helps me to be behind the plate for a lot of games,” Ramos said. “That’s what I want to do. In the beginning of the season, in spring training, I said I want to catch 120-130 games. That’s my goal for this year. I have to keep it going, keep working.”

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.