Opening Day! Woo? Sometimes I have to question my sanity going through all this for a game (after game after game after game). My day started by layering up to sit in low 40 degree temps with a constant mist/drizzle/rain for hours to getting stuck in traffic where jerks decided they didn’t have to wait in line for the exit like the rest of us. Then I opened a soda in the Jeep which promptly exploded all over me, the steering wheel, the shifter, radio, etc. Luckily, I was wearing waterproof clothing in anticipation of the weather. The driver’s seat, however, was not so lucky. The Nats’ luck kind of followed the same course as they opened at home yesterday under less than ideal conditions.
I thought I’d make it an hour before first pitch to take in the opening day ceremonies, but traffic had other plans for me and I was going to be lucky to get in half an hour early. I headed to my usual parking area to find a gaggle of day-glo vested police officers on Segways already on the hunt and gleefully ticketing cars en masse before the first pitch had even been thrown. Oh boy! So of course I couldn’t find an open spot and my usual backup plan of the $15 lot under the Douglass Bridge was mysteriously closed. I found a 2-hour meter several blocks away and decided to take my chances since I was running out of time and didn’t want to miss the flyover during the pregame. I lost on that chance, of course, as I discovered the ticket on my windshield when I returned before getting stuck in yet more traffic.
To soothe all these frustrations, the Nats won their opening day game, right? Wrong! I may have to take up yoga or something if I continue doing this. First, there was no flyover as I sat in anticipation waiting and waiting for the rumble of approaching jets (presumably due to weather). And of course, it’s not exactly about the wins, particularly on the first day of the season (On pace to go 0-162! Panic!), though a win would have been nice. Fans did get their first glimpses of the “new guys”. They also got to puzzle over why Livo was pulled while way under 100 pitches and had seemed to find his groove. I guess it was the lefty-lefty matchup where Doug Slaten came in to face one batter and walked him (that batter being phenom Jason Heyward who had homered to right leading off the 2nd inning). [Disclaimer: I have not yet read the game stories, so maybe that was explained in post-game interviews/conference] I also wondered if Livo forgot how to bat. As a pitcher who typically has no problem “helping himself” at the plate, he looked completely – well, like a pitcher at the plate.
Did Ian Desmond have “OMG I’m the leadoff guy!” jitters as he went 0-4 with two strikeouts (one flavor of each) and grounded out to third twice? Not that many had much luck with Braves pitcher Derek Lowe. When Danny Espinosa doubled in the 7th, a fan behind me said, “there’s the leadoff guy,” presumably meaning he would rather see Espinosa lead off. I have a pretty high opinion of Espinosa, so tend to somewhat agree. It’ll be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out over the next couple months.
One bright spot – I recently raved about Sean Burnett in a podcast The DC Sports Page invited me to participate in. No, I didn’t expect to start gushing over Burnett’s pitching either, but it just kind of fell out there. But he certainly lived up to my “scouting” in his one inning of relief. Sure, he allowed a single, but promptly erased it with a double play he began. Give the podcast a listen if you want to hear more of me sounding like I know what I’m talking about (not entire sure on that one).
In the end, the Nats fell 2-0 to the Braves in a game where all the offense occurred in the first two innings before many even made it to their seats. The game wasn’t quite as dreary as the weather and traffic, however, as new first baseman LaRoche made a couple good defensive moves (I refuse to compare him to Dunn, though). Jayson Werth also caught a couple in right in dramatic fashion. Defense defense defense! Now bring me some offense offense offense!
1ST: Werth singles on a grounder up the middle (see where it bounced in front of plate?) in his first official AB as a Nat
2ND: Heyward homers right into an awaiting Braves’ fan’s hands in RF to put the Braves up 2-0 (final score as well)
7TH: After a fielder’s choice for one out (and a runner left on first), Livo is removed after only 77 pitches in the 7th inning