Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg Shine for Washington Nationals on Opening Day
The Washington Nationals entered Opening Day looking to get a head start on their pursuit to win the NL East. They could not have started any better than they did with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg jumping all over the Miami Marlins in front of a regular-season Nationals Park record, 45,274 fans.
Harper gave the Nationals their first run of the year after a booming home run on an off-speed pitch from Ricky Nolasco. One was not enough for Harper, as he smashed another solo shot in the fourth inning off Nolasco, a no-doubt shot off the bat.
Strasburg was simply dominant on the other end, at one point retiring 19 straight batters during the game. Strasburg was helped by some nice defensive plays during the game, one of which on a fly ball to Harper.
Harper initiated a double play in the seventh inning after a perfect throw from left field which forced Giancarlo Stanton to retreat to third, leaving the baserunner at first in a pickle. After a run down, the Nats were able to get Stanton at home, who ultimately attempted to score but to no avail.
The play at the plate kept the scoreboard free of runs for Strasburg. He finished the day after only 80 pitches; He pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, three strikeouts and no runs or walks.
The Nationals' success at the plate and on the mound will be the outline for this season. A bit more offense will be expected as the season heats up, however. Ryan Zimmerman had a tough afternoon at the plate, striking out three times.
Rafael Soriano earned his first save as a National, shutting down the Marlins in order in the ninth inning. Soriano struck out the final two batters of the game, including Stanton.
The win exhibited how dominant this team can be with their pitching and their star-powered offense. Washington showed that even if they have a slow day on the offensive end, their pitching is good enough to dominate and win ballgames.
The Nationals will have a day to celebrate their Opening Day win before taking on Miami in the second game of the series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. The Nats will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound to oppose the Marlins' Kevin Slowey.
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