The Washington Times - September 15, 2011, 12:08AM

NEW YORK — Brad Peacock pitched five scoreless innings against the New York Mets Wednesday night at Citi Field. Now, he waits.

After making a strong impression with his first major league start, there’s no firm date for his next one. Chances are, he will indeed have a next one, though. With the Nationals heading to Philadelphia next week to play four games in three days, Peacock will most likely get a start Wednesday or Thursday in that series, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

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“He’s certainly earned it,” he added. 

It’s his future after that, however, that’s what most Nationals fans are thinking about.

Along with Ross Detwiler, Tom Milone and a host of other candidates, Peacock will come to spring training next season with a shot at ending it as a member of the team’s Opening Day rotation — a lineup already expected to be anchored in front by Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan. 

“I’m not ruling anything out,” Johnson said. “But there’s a lot of guys who are competing for that job and he’s one of them.”

– Most of the time, when there’s a “Rick Ankiel defensive highlight” it comes from his amazing left arm and the ability he has to throw a strike from 400-plus feet away from a target. That was the case Tuesday night when Ankiel threw Josh Thole out at home on a rope from center field. 

But Wednesday, for a chance, Ankiel drew raves for his range — a superb but sometimes under-the-radar aspect of his defensive game. Getting a great jump on a ball hit into the gap in left center field (with two men on and two outs in a two run game in the ninth inning, by the way) Ankiel made a phenomenal diving grab to end the game and seal the Nationals’ win over the Mets.

Ankiel shrugged it off with a smile, admitting he felt he had a good jump and a good read on the ball, but also acknowledging that he’s not surprised when he makes plays like that because it’s what he prides himself on and what he practices each day.

Drew Storen, who’d walked the first two batters of the inning, had a different take on it.

“I don’t think there’s any camera angle other than the one that I had that can really describe how awesome that was,” Storen said. “It’s hit. It’s in the gap. That last 20 feet, he gets to that ball. It’s fading toward the gap. It’s incredible. That was one of the best catches I have ever seen.

“I told Rick I owe him a couple dinners. Juts hang with him… I was just going, please catch it. It’s tough to say what my emotions were but I think that’s probably the most pumped I’ve been to see somebody dive and make a catch, that’s for sure.”