Nationals-Braves: Ryan Zimmerman Comes Through in the Clutch

sonny sharpContributor IMarch 30, 2008

If you thought a passed ball by the veteran Paul Lo Duca was going to end all hopes of the Nationals winning their inagural game at Nationals Park, Ryan Zimmerman proved why he will become the leader of this franchise.

Amidst the ubiquitous boo's which rifled through the stadium as President George W. Bush came out to throw the first pitch, I felt as if it was actually possible for the Nationals to lose this game.

Consider this.

Tim Hudson, a veteran who proved himself in Oakland by winning the rookie of the year award in 1999, along with an MVP award and three Cy Youngs, backed up by a potent offense led by Chipper Jones, Mark Texeira, and Jeff Francoeur, against the Nationals, led by Odalis Perez on the mound, with run support from Kearns, Belliard, and Zimmerman; an opening day David vs Goliath if you will.

As we head into the top of the 9th, you really got the feeling that the Nationals would pull it off, until Lo Duca's passed ball breathed new life into the Braves offense.

However, Zimmerman had other thoughts in the bottom of the 9th when he took a belt high fastball up the middle and sent it to nearly the exact same spot Chipper did earlier in the game, but this one was a walk-off.

It's only fitting that the Nationals won this home opener...maybe Bush paid off Peter Moylan to give up the homer. At the end of the day, it's good for baseball, but awful for the Braves, who have a chance to take control of the NL East, unless they keep losing nail-bitters to the Nationals.

As long as Smoltz can stay healthy, and they keep getting solid outings by Hudson, then it looks like they might be in it for the long haul. However, if their offense drags along like a bassett hound on a leash during a hot summer day, then they can kiss the NL East goodbye, and hand deliver it on a silver platter to Johan Santana.