Wilson Ramos had quite the introduction to Philly on Wednesday night, and if the new Phillies catcher keeps this up, Jim Kenney could be facing some serious opposition next fall. The Phillies' win against the Red Sox seemed to be enough to wipe away the bad taste of a dismal week that preceded it, as they cleansed their palate before playing five games in four days against the Mets. A friendly reminder: The first game of today's doubleheader is exclusively on Facebook.
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Wilson Ramos' Phillies debut was delayed for nearly two weeks as he rehabbed a strained left hamstring. And if you need any indication of how severe that injury was, just look at the tattoo on his left forearm.
The new Phillies catcher has the face of a buffalo inked on his arm to represent his nickname: "The Buffalo." Ramos earned the name when he was catching for the Nationals and stayed in a game despite being peppered by a series of foul tips behind the plate.
"When I came back to the dugout, my teammate Ian Desmond said to me, 'Hey man, you're a buffalo. You have good strength,' " Ramos said after stealing the show in his Phillies debut. "I love it. Now all my teammates and even my family call me 'Buffalo.' "
Ramos is fully committed to the nickname. He has the tattoo, he will have the name on the back of his jersey when the Phillies wear their nickname jerseys Sunday, and he mimics buffalo horns by slapping his fists to his helmet after big hits. For Ramos, the nickname is the perfect representation of the type of player he strives to be.
"My mom always said God gave me strength like a buffalo because I'm a tough guy," Ramos said. "No matter what, I'm playing. If you take me out of the game, it's for a big injury, not for a regular thing."
Wednesday night was proof that the Phillies lineup was missing a productive bat such as Ramos. He was an All-Star in Tampa Bay and has been one of baseball's best hitting catchers for the last few seasons. His debut just needed some patience, as his injury was not a "regular thing."
"The dude's a stud," reliever Tommy Hunter said. "I had the chance to play with him last year in Tampa Bay, and you can't expect anything less from a buffalo. He's a welcomed addition, and we can't welcome him with more open arms."
Zach Eflin had 20,000 reasons to be peeved Wednesday when he returned to Citizens Bank Park and joined the Phillies after being demoted to triple A. But the pitcher said he understood the team's roster move, which cost him nine days of service time but will still allow him to start the second game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Mets. Eflin and Gabe Kapler hashed it out over breakfast.
A wild win over the Red Sox seemed hard to imagine when Vince Velasquez was chased after recording just seven outs. But the Phillies dug themselves out of a three-run hole and rallied against the best team in baseball thanks to "The Buffalo."
That wild win was the "biggest win of the season," Bob Brookover writes. The win came against the baseball's best team, on a night when the Phillies would have fallen another game behind Atlanta, and was triggered by a cast of new additions. Brookie is right.
Today: Ranger Suarez opens doubleheader vs. Mets, 4:05 p.m.
Tonight: Zach Eflin closes out the doubleheader, 35 minutes after the end of Game 1.
Tomorrow: A marquee matchup of Aaron Nola vs. Noah Syndergaard, 6:05 p.m.
Saturday: Jake Arrieta vs. Jacob deGrom, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies and Mets go to Williamsport for Little League Classic, 7:10 p.m.
Wilson Ramos was the first player to have three extra-base hits in his Phillies debut since Eddie Freed did it in September 1942, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Freed, who was born in Center Valley, Pa. (Hi Ohls!), played 13 games that September with the Phillies before being drafted into the Army during World War II. Freed never returned to the major leagues. Ramos turned 31 earlier this month, which should make him too old to be drafted to the Space Force.
Question: Now that we're toward the end of the season, how do you think Gabe is doing in relation to his analytics vs. his gut decisions? It seems to me that he is going more with his gut and adjusting more with in-game decisions. — emailed question from John D.
Answer: I agree, John. There was a lot of hubbub early in the season after the rough start in Atlanta and New York that Kapler didn't have a "feel" and was relying strictly on analytics. The guy played 12 seasons in the big leagues. Yes, he likes numbers, but this isn't Jonah Hill in Moneyball. He proved he could adjust, and he blended his feel for the game with a reliance on analytics.