Since returning from his second DL stint of the year for yet another hamstring injury after two previous injuries to his hamstrings cost him significant time in 2013, Wilson Ramos has been on a tear offensively.
In 35 games since June 26th, the 26-year-old Washington Nationals' backstop has put up a .324/.357/.456 line with three doubles, five home runs and 21 RBIs in 143 plate appearances. Two of the doubles and two of the home runs have come in the last few weeks since he returned from a short break for the birth of his first child.
One of those doubles was a walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday night when the Nationals rallied from a 3-0 deficit with four runs in the last two innings capped off by the opposite field, ground-rule double Ramos hit into the Nats' bullpen off Pirates' left-hander Justin Wilson to bring Bryce Harper in from second after the 21-year-old outfielder walked and took second on a wild pitch.
"I hit the ball well," Ramos said after the big double gave the Nationals their first off three consecutive walk-off wins.
"I was concentrating more on moving the runner and not trying to score that run. I was concentrating, I fouled it off two times, just try to hit the ball the other way to move the runner, but the thing that I did, that's better than moving the runner."
Ramos' 2 for 4 night on Saturday left him with .297/.339/.411 line on the year and hits in four straight games and eight of ten to that point this month.
"Bryce worked a tough walk to lead off the [ninth] inning," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said Saturday night. "And then, of course, we all saw, he advanced to second on the ball that got by [Russell Martin] and then Wilson does what he does. He hits the ball up the middle, the other way so well he was able to get it over [Gregory] Polanco."
Ramos followed that up with a 1 for 5 game in Sunday's extra inings win, giving him hits in five straight games.
Last night he went 2 for 4 with a strikeout, single and home run off D-Backs' left-hander Vidal Nuno, collecting two of the five hits Arizona's starter allowed in seven innings of work on the mound.
The seventh-inning home run Ramos hit to straight-center in Nationals Park traveled 418ft and gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead, coming, as it did, one out after a leadoff walk by Ian Demsond started the frame.
Ramos grounded out in his final at bat of the game, leaving him with a .298/.339/.421 line on the year with 10 doubles and six home runs in 245 plate appearances.
In 49 PAs in August the Nationals' hard-hitting catcher, who broke the hamate bone in his left wrist on Opening Day, has a .990 OPS up from a .711 OPS in 78 PAs in July.
Over the course of his current six-game hit streak, Ramos is 10 for 25 (.400/.400/.600) with a 1.000 OPS, and a .474 BABIP.
"With the injuries that he had," Williams said last night, "it's difficult to maintain timing and approach and rhythm and all of that, but the more he plays the better it gets. Certainly can't play every day, but he's been swinging the bat well. He's doing what he does. He stays through the middle really good, hits the ball the other way really well with some power. The guy that threw for them tonight [Nuno], nobody had any history but Asdrubal [Cabrera] against him, so it took some time to try to figure him out. But Wilson got a ball out over that he was able to handle."
Ramos handled that 82 mph 1-2 slider from Nuno. He's handled the Nationals' staff well behind the plate all season. Maybe next year we'll finally get to see what he can do with a full season's worth of at bats.
Since playing in 113 games in his first full season with the Nationals in 2011, and putting up a .267/.334/.445 line with 22 doubles and 15 HRs in 435 plate appearances, Ramos hasn't come close to a full season.
He played just 25 games and made 96 PAs before he suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee in 2012. Last season the hamstring injuries he suffered limited him to 78 games and 303 PAs.
We'll have to wait until next year to see if he can get a full season's worth of at bats. Tonight, assuming he starts again, we get to see if he can connect for a hit in his seventh straight game.
• Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting daily $18,000 Fantasy Baseball leagues. It costs $2 to join and the first-place prize is $2,000. Click here for details.