I'm not sure the table on the dais in Nationals Park's media room is actually made of wood, or that knocking on wood can actually reverse a jinx, if jinxes actually do exist, but Washington's second-year manager Matt Williams has a habit of doing it on occasion when a reporter brings up the health of one his players.
He did it on Sunday night when he was asked how important it is to have Wilson Ramos healthy and available on a daily basis after several seasons of injury issues for the Nats' 27-year-old catcher.
"It helps," to have him in the lineup Williams said.
[Knock on wood]
"It helps to have him available for us and behind the plate. I think he's worked well with our starting pitchers. And he provides offense."
Ramos broke up a 1-1 tie last night with a sixth-inning home run to right field that cleared the out-of-town scoreboard.
His eighth home run of the 2015 campaign came on a 92 mph 0-1 fastball from San Francisco Giants' right-hander George Kontos. Ramos said after the game, a 3-1 win, that he thought the ball was gone as soon as he hit it.
Ramos on HR: "I felt on my bat the ball is gone, but I see the replay, it was just behind the wall. Next time I need to hit it more hard."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 6, 2015
Ramos drove in the Nationals' third run of the game too, connecting on a first-pitch slider from Kevin Strickland that he drove to the right of center, bringing Bryce Harper in after a leadoff double by the Nats' 22-year-old slugger and a line drive to right by Tyler Moore that allowed Harper to take third.
"For me the most impressive one was the RBI single," Williams said.
"That will allow him to be productive for us, to be that four-five-six guy for us that has opportunity. So, legs are good and he's been working and catching a lot, but he feels good."
"That's vintage Wilson tonight," Williams told reporters. "Man on third, line drive back through the middle. It's just -- he's got the ability to do that, that's why he hits in the middle of the order, because he's an RBI guy, he's a run-producer. So, again, he stayed on a slider, first-pitch slider and delivered."
When Ramos is on his game at the plate, he's taking the ball back up the middle or going the other way. Williams has talked about the catcher's ability to drive in runs all season as he did after a 2 for 5 game last month in Milwaukee in which Ramos homered on a line drive to right off Brewers' right-hander Jimmy Nelson.
"Hit the ball back through the middle," Williams said, "and then the homer to right, so he stayed on the baseball today. For him, it's about hitting pitches up. If he swings at those balls down, then he gets himself out oftentimes, but today he did a nice job of staying on it and hitting it back through the middle, the other way."
More importantly, however, Ramos, at least so far, has been able to stay healthy. Williams was asked just last week how big a boost the catcher provides provided he's able to stay in the lineup?
"I'll do it for you," Williams said, knocking on the table in front of him Nats Park before responding.
"The boost that he provides for us is he understands our guys, he knows our guys, he's got experience with these starting pitchers. He's one swing away from hitting the ball over the fence. He provides middle of the order run scoring and the ability to drive runs in for us. And he wants to play."
"I think that he's strong," Williams continued when asked about Ramos appearing to be slimmer than he was in previous seasons.
"The leaner he is the better flexibility he's got. Certainly wear and tear will get a catcher over the course of a season, but we're still early in the season and he feels good so we're going to ask him to play, he wants to play and he wants to be behind that plate doing what he can for us."
• We talked about Jordan Zimmermann's start, Wilson Ramos' opposite field power and more on last night's edition of Nats Nightly: