Apr 2, 2011, 11:58 PM EDT
Associated Press photo
Rick Ankiel drops a perfect squeeze bunt in the seventh inning.
Maybe it’s a good thing the Nationals don’t have that silver Elvis wig lying around the clubhouse anymore, the one that would always go to whomever was deemed player of the game after a win last season. They would have had a difficult time figuring out who most deserved to wear the thing following today’s 6-3 victory over the Braves.
The obvious choice would be Rick Ankiel, who both clubbed a two-run homer and dropped a perfect squeeze bunt. But Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman certainly each played a role, reaching base four times a piece. So did John Lannan, coming back after a 55-minute rain delay to toss a 1-2-3 fifth inning and help bridge the gap to the bullpen.
Don’t forget about Tyler Clippard, who for the second time already this season entered in a tight spot and wriggled his way out of a jam. And then there’s Sean Burnett, summoned to record a four-out save and finish off the Nationals’ first victory of the young season.
In the end, maybe the real credit goes to manager Jim Riggleman, who deftly worked his way through a long and complicated ballgame, pulling all the strings and levers necessary to secure this win over a Braves team many have picked to win the NL East.
“It’s a great ballclub they put out over there,” Riggleman said. “We just really feel good the way we’ve played with them.”
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