After six long months of waiting, the Washington Nationals finally played a meaningful baseball game. And while it was only the first game, today’s come from behind victory over the New York Mets certainly sets the tone for the rest of the season.
The Nationals fell behind early after starter Stephen Strasburg gave up a three-run home run to Andrew Brown in the bottom of the first, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. But the Nationals got two of those runs right back an inning later on a two-run missile by Adam LaRoche, making it a one-run game.The Mets scored their fourth run of the day against Strasburg in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Eric Young.
While Strasburg’s third consecutive opening day start for the Nationals did not go as well as he hoped it would, Strasburg cruised the rest of the way. The right-hander finished the day with 10 strikeouts over six innings while allowing four runs on five hits.
The Nationals struggled all night against Mets’ starter Dillon Gee, who at one point retired 15 consecutive hitters. But once the Nationals got into the Mets bullpen in the top of the seventh, things got a little more exciting.
After Anthony Rendon made it a 4-3 game on an RBI double in the seventh, Mets’ right-hander Carlos Torres replaced Gee, only to walk Nate McLouth to load the bases for the Nationals. Left-hander Scott Rice then walked Denard Span, scoring Adam LaRoche from first and tying the game at 4.
But the Mets weren’t done as they retook the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a solo home run off the bat of Juan Lagares, giving the Mets a 5-4 lead and puting the Nationals’ opening day victory in jeopardy. Fortunately for the Nationals, the Mets’ bullpen did not seem to be in a hurry to put the game away in the top of the ninth inning.
After a leadoff single by Ian Desmond and a clutch walk by Danny Espinosa, Denard Span plugged the gap in left field against Mets’ closer Bobby Parnell, scoring Desmond and tying the game at five. As if opening day hadn’t been interesting enough already, the Nationals were headed to extra innings in Queens.
But fortunately for the Nationals, they wouldn’t need too many innings of free baseball to come away with the win, as a four-run tenth inning put the game out of reach for the Mets. The biggest damage of the inning came on a three-run home run by Anthony Rendon that made it a 9-5 game. The Mets scored two more runs against Jerry Blevins in the bottom of the tenth, but the Nationals’ southpaw shut the door the rest of the way, sealing a 9-7 opening day victory for the Nationals.
While it’s always good to win the first game of the season, especially with an off day tomorrow, today’s victory did not come cheap. The Nationals almost lost Bryce Harper in the top of the second inning after he collided with Young while trying to break up a double play at second base. Fortunately for Harper and the Nationals, he passed a concussion test and remained in the game. Wilson Ramos, however, was not so lucky.
Ramos left the game in the bottom of the seventh inning after suffering an apparent hand injury. Rumors were circling on Twitter that the Nationals’ oft-injured catcher had fractured a bone in the hand and could be out for over six weeks. One report even went as far as saying Ramos would return to D.C. for surgery tomorrow. But manager Matt Williams confirmed in his post game press conference that preliminary X-rays on Ramos’ hand had come back negative, putting some of those rumors to rest. Ramos will visit the Nationals’ hand specialist in D.C. tomorrow, where he will undergo further testing on the hand.
For a Monday afternoon game at Citi Field, opening day was certainly one to remember. The Cardiac Nats are back, Harper’s ‘run till they tag you’ offense is back and most importantly, baseball is back. One down, 161 to go.