As I continue to recover from the ridiculous allergy attack I suffered in the press box during last night’s game - bar none the worst allergy experience of my life - I wanted to pass along some more notes from the Nationals’ 6-4 win over the Astros.
But don’t get any ideas about the 23-year-old pushing Danny Espinosa for the starting gig at second base. Manager Davey Johnson made sure to point out that Lombardozzi will continue to come off the bench while Espinosa will get the vast majority of the playing time at second.
“He’s a good player. Had a heck of a night,” Johnson said of Lombardozzi. “As much as I like him, Espi’s my second baseman.”
Of course, as reporters joked last night, things can always change. The above quote comes from the same manager who said that John Lannan was his fifth starter only to then option Lannan to Triple-A a little over a week later.
While Lombardozzi’s overall performance was enough to earn him a Gatorade shower from Jayson Werth last night, the game’s top play had to come from Rick Ankiel in the top of the sixth inning.
Up with no one out and the bases loaded, Houston’s Carlos Lee lifted a fly ball to medium-depth center field off Stephen Strasburg. With Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer (Houston’s fastest runner) at third, the ball should have been plenty deep enough to score a run on a sac fly. But then we saw yet again why Rick Ankiel is one of the finest defensive center fielders in baseball.
Ankiel settled under the Lee fly ball, made the catch and uncorked a throw to the plate that will be seen on highlight reels the rest of the week. The throw - which traveled about 300 feet to the plate - was so good that it hit catcher Wilson Ramos square in the mitt without Ramos needing to move an inch.
“I would have called it a strike, that’s for sure,” Strasburg deadpanned.
“That was impressive,” Johnson said.
“That was a good one,” Ankiel added, unable to contain a smile when asked about the throw.
Surprisingly, Schafer stayed at third on the play, not bothering to test Ankiel’s arm. For his sake, that was probably for the best.
It’s not often a defensive play which doesn’t even result in an out draws a standing ovation, but that’s what happened last night.
Meanwhile, Johnson said that Ankiel won’t be in the Nationals’ lineup tonight; Xavier Nady and Mark DeRosa will play the corner outfield spots with Jayson Werth sliding over to center against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
Or, as manager Davey Johnson accidentally called him last night, “Wendy” Rodriguez.