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Rick Ankiel wowed everyone at Nationals Park last night with his sixth-inning throw.
But Ankiel might have topped himself last night with a throw that won't soon be forgotten around the Nationals' clubhouse.
Even more remarkable, it didn't result in a baserunner getting thrown out or scoring.
The situation: With the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the sixth, Astros cleanup hitter Carlos Lee sent a flyball to medium-deep center field. Standing on third base, Jordan Schafer tried to pretend he was going to tag up, but he knew better than to test the mighty Ankiel's left arm.
Good thing, too, because Ankiel promptly delivered a 300-foot laser that practically hit Wilson Ramos in the chest. The catcher never had to move.
"It was a perfect throw," Ramos said.
It was, and it earned Ankiel a standing ovation from the crowd of 16,245 at Nationals Park, not to mention plenty of replays on various highlight shows.
"That was a good one," the center fielder acknowledged. "I mean, it shows a lot of respect, those guys not going there. But yeah, it was good. It came out clean and it was right on the money."
Ankiel expected Schafer -- Houston's leadoff hitter -- to attempt to score.
"I was surprised," he said. "It's one of their fastest guys on their team. With the bases loaded, I thought for sure he was going. Ball was in the air, I'm like: 'He's gotta go.' But hey, it shows a lot of respect that they didn't. So, yeah, it makes me feel good."
After spending the season's first week on the disabled list with a quad strain, Ankiel is happy to be contributing to the Nationals' cause. He hasn't done much at the plate so far, going 2-for-12 with a double, but his defensive game has never been negatively affected by any offensive struggles.
And the Nationals understand just how valuable an arm like that can be in center field.
"When you have the pitching like we have, it's hard to string together base hit after base hit," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Any time you can have an outfield arm like that that practically shuts down the running game and makes the team get another hit, off the pitching that we have, it's not easy to do."
Ankiel did have a not-so-spectacular moment later in the game, when he misread Chris Johnson's line drive hit straight at him and helplessly watched as the ball sailed over his head for a triple.
"He hit the daylights out of it," Ankiel said. "He stayed inside of it, so it was actually curving back at me. So when I started to come in I realized, 'Oh, crap. This is going to be over my head, not in front of me.' When I tried to stop, it was almost already past me."
No worries, because the Nationals hung on to win 6-3. Besides, all anyone wanted to talk about afterward was the throw Ankiel did make, a throw so perfect it could have been mistaken for a pitch.
"I would have called it a strike," starter Stephen Strasburg said. "That's for sure."