From being down to the last out, to a victory was one of the more exhilarating (and nerve racking) beginnings to a season since Opening Day 2008, and Ryan Zimmerman’s christening of Nationals Park.
The Nationals were able to overcome a game where they trailed through a majority of the eight previous innings, and took a victory over the New York Mets by a final of 9-7.
Being at Citi Field on Monday was an amazing atmosphere for all who were there, whether you were a Mets or Nationals fan. The cold breeze was no match for fans enthusiasm for the start of a new baseball season. This was certainly the case for me, as I grinded it out on the upper deck for all nine innings. It also is the day of hope, when all teams are even. It allows you to either gain or lose hope on how your season could potentially turn out.
Luckily for Nats fans, this season started out pointing in the direction of a division victory. After six brutal innings with no offense besides a Adam LaRoche bomb in the second inning, the Nationals finally woke up. In the seventh, it was bullpen problems for the Mets that were a catalyst for the Nationals comeback. Even though it seemed the strike zone shrunk in the later innings for the Mets bullpen, the Nationals used it to their advantage tying the game in the seventh. It was an Anthony Rendon double to right to score Ian Desmond, and a Denard Span walk to force in Adam LaRoche to tie the game at 5 up to that point. The first ray of hope of a win.
However, Juan Lagares’ solo home run in the bottom of the 8th against Tyler Clippard looked insurmountable, looking as how bad the offense was all day besides that seventh inning. Even then, it was patient at-bats that got the Nats there, not base hits.
Finally, it was the fantastic at-bat of Danny Espinosa in the 9th inning with two against Bobby Parnell that kept the game going, ultimately setting up Denard Span’s base hit to left field to tie the game at five. As a Nats fan, it was an amazing “silence” moment at Citi Field, where the hope of a possible great start against the predicted World Series Champs turned to a major breakdown, ultimately leading to what we found out might be a possible detrimental injury to Mets closer Parnell.
The final blow would come from Anthony Rendon, a three-run shot over the left field wall against Nationals ex-Opening Day starter John Lannan to put the Nationals up by four. That sent the home crowd straight through the gates before the game was over. Over three quarter of the original crowd was now gone.
It was a day of indifference and ultimate disbelief at points. First, give credit to Mets starter Dillon Gee, as he kept Nationals hitters off balance all day long, with nobody except Adam LaRoche getting good wood on the ball. Secondly, it was an up-and-down day to be a Stephen Strasburg fan. Even though he finished the game with 10 K’s, sometimes the spots he did hit got hit hard. It was a nice letter high fastball that Andrew Brown sent over the wall in the first inning for a three-run shot that did in the scoring. I think Strasburg got lucky only giving up five hits for the amount of ball that were hit hard by the Mets. Lastly, it was the scary moment of watching Bryce Harper hit the deck at second base, lying on his back. The only thing that went through my mind was Justin Morneau, and how he really hasn’t been the same player since his injury. But all this well, since he stayed in the game. Bryce, if you are reading this, thank you for the cardiac arrest.
But much to look forward to for the season, with seeing how much the Nationals can fill holes. The offense is greatly supplemented by the additions of Nate McLouth and Kevin Frandsen, along with Lobaton being a solid backup (now starter). Also, I liked what I saw from Jerry Blevins (aside from the bomb to David Wright), and love him in the back of that ‘pen. Great job getting the Curly W in Game One.