November 20, 2019

Washington Nationals Opening Day Review: Scherzer strong, defense does Nats in

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans lining up at Center Field Gate waiting for the gates to open at Nationals Park for home opener, 4/6/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Clear, azure blue skies. Temperatures in the low 70s. A full house at Nats Park, home of the 2018 All-Star Game. A 4:05 pm start, free from rush hour traffic both getting to and returning home from the park. One could not have asked for a better day for baseball in April.

Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t comply. Ian Desmond made two errors, which both contributed to unearned runs against starter Max Scherzer, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 before 42,295 at Nats Park.

Scherzer came as advertised, not allowing a hit until Lucas Duda’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and he finished with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

But the Nats were anemic at the plate, as you might envision a team missing its 1-2-3 hitters might be. The Nationals mustered a mere three hits against 40-year-old Bartolo Colon and a parade of Mets relievers, spoiling an otherwise spectacular day.

In the top of the first, Scherzer started Curtis Granderson off 0-2, but lost him to a walk. He came back to get the next three batters in succession though.

Michael Taylor led the Nats half of the first with a single, and went to second when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy threw away Yunel Escobar’s routine ground ball. But Bryce Harper struck out, as did Ryan Zimmerman, and Wilson Ramos’ grounder ended the frame.

Scherzer breezed through the second, getting a pop-up, K and grounder to third for an easy 1-2-3 inning. The Nats went just as quietly against Colon, as Ian Desmond grounded to third, Dan Uggla popped up to short and Tyler Moore flew out to right.

Both teams went quietly for a couple of innings, but leading off the fourth half for the Nats, Colon got a little too much of the plate on an 0-1 fastball and Harper turned it around quickly, depositing it in the right center bleachers for his third Opening Day homer of his career, to make it 1-0 Nats.

Scherzer came back right after the homer with another 1-2-3, this time finishing off Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud on strikes to end the inning.

Scherzer got the first two batters in the sixth, but he lost Granderson for the second time. David Wright followed with a routine pop-up to second, but for some reason Desmond tried to take it from Uggla, who was camped out under it. The ball fell for an error, with runners at second and third. Lucas Duda made the Nats pay for Desmond’s mistake, lashing a single to right center to score both runners.

 The Nats got a little something going against Colon in the bottom half. With two outs, Harper singled up the middle, and Zimmerman followed with a walk. But after running the count to 3-1, Ramos flailed a a couple of breaking balls for the third out.

Desmond contributed to another Mets run in the seventh. With one out, Juan Lagares grounded hard to short. Desmond ramped up the throw, but bounced it, and Zimmerman couldn’t come up with it for the second E-6 of the day. The next batter, Travis d’Arnaud, tripled off the wall in center just out of Taylor’s reach and the Mets took a 3-1 lead.

Colon departed after six innings, allowing just Harper’s home run and two other hits, striking out eight with one walk. Carlos Torres came on in the seventh, but the Nats didn’t have any luck with him either, as Desmond, Uggla and Moore all grounded out against the righty.

Scherzer got the first two outs of the eighth, but a swinging bunt to third against the shift for Duda, and a line single to right for Cuddyer brought the end to his day. Xavier Cedeno was called to face Daniel Murphy, and he got the lefty to ground to first.

Scherzer finished the day with 7 2/3 innings pitched, three unearned runs allowed on four hits and two walks, striking out eight. He threw 71 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

But there was no comeback on this Opening Day, as the Nats went 1-2-3 against Jeurys Familia in the eighth, and the same in the ninth against Jerry Blevins and Buddy Carlyle, who got his first MLB save at the age of 37.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Comments

  1. Ray Rheault says:

    This looked agonizingly like the end of 2014. Good pitching; Zero offense besides Harper.

    They weren’t exactly crushing the ball in the pre-season either. Hopefully it’s an anomally. You can’t win every game 1-0.

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