On Monday, to much pomp and circumstance of Opening Day, the Nationals opened their ninth season in D.C., but their first season as the reigning National League Eastern Division Champions. Awards were handed out like candy and the new division title banner was unveiled and the fun was just beginning.
Before a sell-out crowd of 45,274, the crowd got to see what they came for and it couldn’t have been written any better. There was the typical run-saving, defensive diving play by Ryan Zimmerman, his shoulder finally repaired and healed. There was the seven inning shutout start by a dominant Stephen Strasburg, unhindered by an innings limit this season. Not to be missed, there was also a strong first save by recent off season acquisition, Rafael Soriano.
But perhaps the biggest news of the day was Bryce Harper’s two home runs. Harper hit home runs in in each of his first two at-bats of the season. Harper, who hit .478 in Spring Training, launched both of his bombs to right field. In the first home run, Harper crushed a curveball from Ricky Nolasco and sent it 385-feet to right field where a Jayson Werth look alike caught the ball. The second time, he sent a 3-2 slider the same direction and brought chants of “M-V-P!” and a curtain call for Harper.
The Nationals managed six hits off of Nolasco, yet it was Harper’s solo home runs that made the difference leading the Nationals to a 2-0 win. The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year recipient is currently slugging 2.000 with a .500 average.