Opening Day brought celebration before the game when commissioner Rob Manfred officially awarded the Washington Nationals with the 2018 All-Star Game. It was a day where manager Matt Williams got to send his new ace, Max Scherzer, to the mound. While Scherzer was very good today, it was the defense that did him in. Ian Desmond’s two errors at shortstop led to the three runs the Mets would get in New York’s 3-1 win at Nats Park.
Washington had a chance early in the first inning to get off to a great start. Michael Taylor led off with a single to center field. Then, Yunel Escobar reached first base on a bad throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy. However, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman would strikeout against Bartolo Colon and Wilson Ramos would ground out to Murphy to end the threat. Ramos would strand four runners on base during today’s game.
Washington would find a way to get the scoring started in the bottom of the fourth when Bryce Harper led off the inning with a home run to right field. It was Harper’s third Opening Day home run of his career.
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The Nats right fielder would have two hits against Colon, but he was the only hitter who had success against him. The 41-year old starter for the Mets went six innings, gave up one earned run on three hits, walked one and struck out eight batters to get to the win.
In the top of the sixth inning, Scherzer still had a no-hitter in tact when he walked Granderson for the second time with two outs. David Wright would hit a pop up to shallow right field which appeared to be Dan Uggla’s ball. But, at the last second, Ian Desmond called him off and could not make the play. With runners at second and third, Lucas Duda would prove the error costly with a two-run single to right that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.
That wouldn’t be the last of Desmond’s mistakes in the field. In the top of the seventh, Desmond had a throwing error where he threw it too low for Zimmerman to field at first, allowing Juan Lagares to reach base. Then, Travis d’Arnaud would hit a triple off the wall in center to extend New York’s lead to 3-1.
For Max Scherzer, he was unhittable for most of the day, despite the loss. After he walked Curtis Granderson to leadoff the game, he retired the next 17 Mets in a row. He was removed from the game by Williams in the eighth inning after two-out singles by Duda and new Met, Michael Cuddyer. He went 7.2 innings, gave up three runs (none earned) on three hits on 97 pitches. He struck out eight batters and walked two during his outing. Xavier Cedeno would come in and get Murphy to ground out to first to end the inning.
Aaron Barrett came in to pitch the ninth and gave up a single to d’Arnaud and walked John Mayberry Jr. before handing the ball to Matt Thornton, who would get Granderson to line out to second to end the inning.
Even with Colon out of the game, the Nats couldn’t get anything done against the Mets bullpen. Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, and Buddy Carlyle (who recorded his first career save) did not give up a hit over the final three innings, combining to strike out two (both by Familia).
This game also had the players who were involved in the trade the team made last Monday as Matt den Dekker struck out against Familia to lead off the eighth. As for Blevins, he came into the game to face Harper to leadoff the bottom of the ninth. Harper would fly out to right field.
After a day off tomorrow, the Nationals will be back in action Wednesday night at 7:05 PM ET against the Mets for the second game of the series on MASN2. Jordan Zimmermann will get the start for Washington against Jacob deGrom.