GAME 2 REVIEW: Riggleman Squeezes His Way to Win

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, April 02, 2011 | , , , | 0 comments »

What a difference a day makes.

After being shut out opening day on just five hits, the Washington Nationals bats woke up, pounding out 10 hits, including their first home run of the season, and defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-3, before 21,941 at Nationals Park.

Rick Ankiel homered and drove in a run on a suicide squeeze play for an insurance run in the seventh to lead the Nats hitters.

John Lannan went five innings for the win.  He sat through a 55 minute rain -- and hail -- delay and came back to get the three outs in the fifth inning he needed to qualify for the win.

"Lannan certainly lobbied to stay in," manager Jim Riggleman said.  "And we wanted him to continue on.  We're not going ot get overboard about who gets the win, but we would have liked him for to get through it and get three more outs."

Lannan was pretty sharp, allowing one earned run on five hits and one walk, striking out three.  He threw 68 pitches, 38 for strikes, in his first win of the season.

A parade of relievers followed the lanky lefty.  Chad Gaudin made his Nationals debut and allowed a home run to Dan Uggla in his first pitch, but Tyler Clippard -- for the second consecutive day -- came in to record multiple outs with runners on base.

Sean Burnett recorded a four out save, his first of the season.  Riggleman indicated after the game that Burnett would probably see most of the save opportunities early on in the season.

As was the case in the opener, the Nats defense played a big part of the game.  Danny Espinosa made a pair of plays early diving for balls that have some touting him for a potential Gold Glove as early as this season.  Ian Desmond had a gem, coming across the diamond to pick a ball destined for center field and made a strong off-balance throw to get the runner.

And even Burnett fielded his position well, stabbing a liner with flare for the final out that would have had any of the Capitals goalies jealous.

This Nats team isn't going to outslug anyone this year, and today showed that Riggleman feels he's going to have to massage his batting order to wring out every single run he can. 

For better or worse.

THE GOOD:  Jayson Werth went 3-for-4 with a walk and two doubles.  Wilson Ramos went 3-for-4 as well.  Ankiel drove in three with his homer and suicide squeeze.

THE BAD:  Ian Desmond continued to struggle in the leadoff spot.  He went 0-for-5, but scored when he reached on a fielder's choice.

THE UGLY:  Adam LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter, and today was further evidence of that.  He went 0-for-5, and in each at bat he left a runner in scoring position.  He stranded nine total today.

NEXT GAME:  Sunday at 1:35 pm.  Jordan Zimmermann faces Tim Hudson in both pitchers 2010 debuts.