Ankiel smacks a homer, scares a runner

The Nationals’ first baserunner of the night was only on the bases for a few seconds.

Rick Ankiel’s solo home run to deep center has given the Nats a 1-0 lead as we go to the fourth inning. Ankiel got a 2-0 sinker from Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano and crushed it over the centerfield wall for his first longball of the season.

Ankiel has also made his presence felt on the defensive side, as yet again, a runner declined to tag up on a fly ball to the Nationals center fielder.

Earlier this week, the Astros’ Jordan Schafer could’ve tried to score on a fly ball caught by Ankiel, but opted not to test the strong-armed outfielder. Ankiel’s presence intimidated another runner tonight, as Giancarlo Stanton only bluffed a tag from third on a John Buck fly out.

Stanton isn’t the quickest of runners by any means, but Ankiel definitely played a factor in the first baseman’s decision to stay put.

As I wrote the day after Ankiel’s ridiculous throw to the plate against Houston, the veteran outfielder’s arm doesn’t need to actually throw guys out to be a factor. He legitimately scares runners, which prevents guys from trying to take the extra base.

Outside of Ankiel’s home run, the Nats haven’t managed anything against Zambrano, who has looked sharp so far tonight. Ross Detwiler has also been sharp, allowing just two hits through four innings.

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