The Washington Nationals, fresh off of their opening night win at home, took to the road for Monday’s game in Philadelphia. The Nationals looked sharp, scoring 5 runs in the top of the 9th to defeat the Phillies by a score of 11-6. The Nationals are now 2-0 on the young season.
Matt Chico got the start for the Nationals against the powerful Phillies line up. Chico went 5.1 innings and gave up three earned runs. He held the Phillies in check until he was yanked from the game with one out in the 6th inning. The bullpen faltered a bit as Hanrahan and King both gave up runs. Saul Rivera, who threw so well last night against the Braves came on in the 8th inning today and gave up nothing to the Phillies and was able to pick up the win. Jesus Colome came on in the 9th to shut it down for the Nationals.
The bats picked up where Ryan Zimmerman left off last night. While Zimmerman went 0-4 his teammates picked him up and carried the team to a win. Lastings Milledge scored three times and scored twice as he homered for the Nats and really anchored the top of the order. In the 9th inning and the score tied at six, Nick Johnson doubled to deep center scoring Milledge and giving the Nats the lead for good. They scored five more runs in the 9th, including a pinch hit, RBI double from Dmitri Young.
These two teams will face off again on Wednesday after a day off. Tim Redding will get that start for the Nationals and Cole Hamels will take the ball for the Phillies. Game time is 7:05 EST.
The Washington Nationals opened up their new park tonight with a victory. The sellout crowd was able to see President George W. Bush throw out the ceremonial first pitch (it was a bit high) and got to see their Nationals get on the board in the first inning on their way to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The Nationals got most of their offense in the first inning. Shortstop Cristian Guzman got the first hit ever at Nationals Park when he led of the bottom of the first inning with a single off of Tim Hudson. Guzman then advanced to third on a throwing error by Hudson and was brought home on a Nick Johnson double. Austin Kearns followed Johnson with a single, driving in Johnson. Hudson was automatic from there on out, shutting down the Nationals bats for the rest of the game.
On the mound, Odalis Perez did a solid job after being a bit of a surprise opening day starter. Perez went five full innings, striking out two and allowing only a Chipper Jones home run. Following Perez was Saul Rivera who threw two perfect innings of relief. Ray King and Luis Ayala handled the 8th inning before passing things off to Jon Rauch in the 9th. Rauch came in to close things but quickly gave up a double to Mark Teixeira and later allowed a run on a wild pitch, tying things up at 2-2 in the top half of the ninth inning. To start off the bottom half of the ninth that roughly 42,000 fans saw Cristian Guzman strike out and Lastings Milledge ground out. Next up was star third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman deposited the second pitch from Peter Moylan into the center field seats to win the game for the Nationals. Not a bad way to open a park and a season.
For the time being the Nationals are leading the National League East. The Nationals will now head to Philadelphia to take on the reigning NL champion Phillies. Matt Chico (7-9, 4.63 ERA in 2007) will get the start for the Nationals. Brett Myers will start for the Phillies.
Nationals Park, the new home of the Washington Nationals, officially opens tomorrow evening. At 8:00 on ESPN the Nationals will open up their new home against division rivals the Atlanta Braves. Following the trend of most of the newer stadium it was built with a capacity around 40,000. According to MLB.com:
“Nationals Park will be equipped with state-of-the-art video and audio technology, including a 4,500 square foot high-definition scoreboard, as well as over 600 linear feet of LED ribbon board along the inner bowl fascia. In addition, the new ballpark will feature a variety of entertainment and fan-interactive alternatives to ensure a compelling and engaging game entertainment experience.”
Nationals Park is an open air stadium which should create a better baseball experience than the domed RFK Stadium that they recently vacated. There will be no seats in dead CF, just grass which is a popular look in some other stadiums around the league. Nationals Park is a nice mix of the retro stadium with the some of the newer amenities that make modern parks so popular among fans.
The Nationals management made their final roster decisions today and got their group of 25 set that will start the regular season on Sunday night. Catcher Johnny Estrada will start the year on the DL and a few pitchers were sent to the minor leagues.
Matt Chico made it onto the 25-Man roster meaning that he has a spot in the Nationals starting rotation for the time being. That Nationals also opted to keep Aaron Boone on the big league roster. Boone has always been a talented player who has been slowed by injuries. If he can play through a healthy season he should be a pretty valuable weapon for the Nats considering he can play multiple positions.
Rob Mackowiak and Willie Harris made the club as reserve outfielders. Both players have had their moments in the big leagues and are also very versatile.
The Nationals took on the Braves this afternoon in a preview of the season opener and fell by a score of 10-2. The aforementioned Chico got roughed up by the Braves to the tune of 5 runs in 5.2 innings. Reliever Ray King, who up until now has had a solid spring gave up the other five runs in the 8th inning and got only one batter out. Hopefully things go better on Sunday.
Free agent signee, Odalis Perez will be the Opening Day starter for the Washington Nationals when they open Nationals Park on March 30th against the Atlanta Braves. Perez is a former Brave and has had some pretty decent seasons in the past. He is looking to turn his career back around with the Nationals. Perez had this to say (courtesy of MLB.com):
“To hear the news that I would be the Opening Day guy, it makes me feel that the job I’ve done, I’m happy because I’m getting this opportunity that a lot of people want.”
Personally, I think it would have made more sense to go with someone like Jason Bergmann who spent the entire 2007 season with Nationals and showed some promise. He’ll get his chance in the future.
In related news, the Nats and their manager Manny Acta are still trying to nail down their starting rotation. They apparently are going to wait until the last moment to fill out the rest of the group. I guess competition is healthy.
Last spring the Manny Acta announced that John Patterson would be the Opening Day starter for the Nationals in 2007. It’s a pretty safe bet now that he will not be given the same honor in 2008. The Nationals released Patterson today as he has suffered injuries and been pretty ineffective this spring.
Patterson is 0-2 so far this spring with an ERA of 7.00. Despite his history of injuries it’s still a big surprising that the Nationals decided to release Patterson. The main reason it’s surprising is that the Nationals are just so starved for pitching. I suppose they just got tired of waiting on the guy to get healthy and decided it was simply time to move on.
My guess is that Patterson latches on with someone on a minor league deal as he tries to get himself healthy. He is still relatively young at 30 and could have a number of innings in that arm. The Nationals though, trying to keep costs down didn’t think it was worth it to pay someone who spent so much time on the disabled list.
The Washington Nationals are hoping to find success in their new stadium. Nationals Park opens on March 30th with a series against division rival the Atlanta Braves. While a new stadium is always a good way to draw attendance, having a sitting President is pretty tough to beat. President George W. Bush will throw the inaugural first pitch right before the 8:05 start time of the game.
Bush of course has a past in baseball as he ran the Texas Rangers for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is perhaps best known for trading away a young Sammy Sosa.
Bush threw out the first pitch when the Nats played their first game in DC in 2005. The good news here for Nats fans is that the Nationals play .500 ball when the President is in attendance. That opening game should be quite a spectacle.
Nationals outfielder, Wily Mo Pena is going to be out for up to four weeks with a tear of his oblique muscle. Pena was set to bat in the middle of the Nationals order this year with his powerful bat. Oblique injuries are notorious for re-injury so the Nationals will take all precautions to not let Pena back on the field until he is fully healed.
Pena was acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox last year around the trade deadline. Pena hit .293 with the Nationals last season and slugged eight home runs in only 37 games. While he is out the Nationals will probably start Elijah Dukes and a host of other outfielders.
Now that we are a couple of weeks into Spring Training, let’s take a lot at who is performing well for the Nationals so far:
Odds are Guzman and Belliard won’t hit quite that well once the regular season starts but it’s certainly a good sign that they are swinging so well now. If the Nats can get that kind of production out of their middle infield they’ll have to be very pleased.
The Nationals took on division rivals in the Florida Marlins Friday afternoon. The Nationals pitching was impressive, limiting the Marlins to only 5 hits. However, the Nats were unable to turn their own 10 hits into much, losing to the Marlins 3-2.
Given the health concerns of both Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young it was a nice site for Nationals fans to see Johnson go 3-3 with a pair of doubles. Unfortunately, those two doubles didn’t result in him scoring any runs or driving in any runs.
The Nats took a much publicized chance on both Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes this offeseason. The duo combined to go 0-8 today and left six men on base. Not exactly what they had in mind, I’m sure.
On Saturday the Nationals (4-5-1) will take on the Houston Astros. Tim Redding will start for the Nats.
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