Today's Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Baseball is back!!!! The first pitch of the Washington Nationals' 2014 season was a fastball low and away from New York Mets' starter Dillon Gee to Nats' leadoff man Denard Span that was called ball one by home plate umpire Tim Welke. The first out of the game was a pop out to third from Span that David Wright caught. The first hit of the season for the Nationals came off Ryan Zimmerman's bat, as the 29-year-old third baseman lined a one-out single through short, but he was stranded at first at the end of the first half-inning of the year. #1sts
Andrew Brown hit a three-run home run out to right field and over the PartyCity.com deck off Stephen Strasburg for an early 3-0 Mets' lead. Adam LaRoche cut into NY's lead with a two-run home run that cleared the right field wall and sailed out between the Subway sign and the Wise Chips banner in Citi Field for a two-run blast that made it 3-2 after one and a half.
A walk, single, sac bunt and sac fly by Eric Young in the Mets' second gave New York their fourth run of the game, 4-2.
Dillon Gee retired 14-straight batters after Adam LaRoche's second inning blast, preserving the Mets' 4-2 lead through five-and-a-half innings.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 and threw 101 pitches in six innings, but left the game with the Nationals down by two runs, 4-2.
Anthony Rendon came through with a two-out RBI double to right off Dillon Gee in the seventh, cutting the Mets' lead in half, 4-3, and back-to-back walks (to Nate McLouth and Denard Span) by two different Mets' relievers (Carlos Torres and Scott Rice), loaded the bases and forced in a run, respectively, as the Nationals tied it up at 4-4 after six and a half.
The Nationals rallied in the ninth, however. Ian Desmond singled to start the inning and two outs later (after a Danny Espinosa walk), scored on an RBI single to left by Denard Span. 5-5 game after eight and a half.
Jayson Werth and Jose Lobaton hit back-to-back singled in the top of the tenth, and after both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Mets' reliever Jeurys Familia, Ian Desmond hit a one-out sac fly to center to give the Nationals a 6-5 lead. Anthony Rendon took John Lannan deep after the former Nats' lefty walked the first batter he faced and the Nats took a 9-5 lead that held up though David Wright made it close with a two-out, two-run home run in the Mets' 10th.
Nationals win, 9-7 final. 1-0 to start 2014.
4. "Opening Day" Stephen Strasburg: Washington's 2009 no.1 overall pick made his third straight Opening Day start this afternoon in the season opener in Flushing, Queens, New York's Citi Field. The 25-year-old right-hander entered this afternoon's outing with a (2-1) record, 1.88 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, eight walks (3.00 BB/9) and 31 Ks (11.63 K/9) in four starts and 24 IP against the Nats' NL East rivals so far in his career, holding the Mets' hitters to a .172/.250/.310 line in his first four major league seasons.
Strasburg's 2014 campaign started with a strikeout from Eric Young on a diving 1-2 change that Wilson Ramos had to retrieve before throwing to first for the out. Juan Lagares lined a 1-1 fastball low and inside to right for an opposite field single and the Mets' first hit of the year. David Wright hit a bloop single to center on a 3-1 fastball that didn't get all the way inside, and it fell in for a single that allowed Lagares to take third. With runners on the corners, and Curtis Granderson at the plate, Strasburg got a called strike three with a 1-2 two-seamer. Andrew Brown stepped in with two on and two out, however, and hit 2-2 fastball out to left for a three-run home run that cleared the PartyCity.com deck. 3-0 Mets after one. 26-pitch first for Strasburg.
How cool pic.twitter.com/xKy8th4cp8— Dave Jageler (@DaveJageler) March 31, 2014
Travis D'Arnaud, the Mets' 25-year-old catcher, took the first walk of the year from Stephen Strasburg in the first at bat of the bottom of the second. Ruben Tejada lined a 1-0 fastball to left for a single and both runners moved up on a sac bunt by Dillon Gee, so Eric Young's sac fly to right on a first pitch fastball brought D'Arnaud in and gave New York a 4-2 lead. Juan Lagares K'd looking for out no.3 of of a 16-pitch inning that had Strasburg up to 40 overall.
David Wright started the Mets' fourth with a single to center on an 0-1 fastball that once again didn't get far enough inside. Strasburg threw a 1-2 change by Curtis Granderson for out no.1 of the third and K no.4 in 2.1 IP. Andrew Brown K'd swinging at an 0-2 change after homering in his first at bat. Two outs, 5 Ks. Ike Davis walked with two down, but Travis D'Arnaud missed a wicked 2-2 curve. 6 Ks for Stras. 61 pitches total after a 21-pitch 3rd.
Strasburg struck out both Dillon Gee and Eric Young (with a brutal 0-2 curve) in a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left him at 70 pitches total with eight Ks after four.
Juan Lagares popped out to first on a 1-2 change. David Wright chased a 1-2 slider outside for a swinging strike three and K no.9 for Strasburg. Curtis Granderson got to a 2-2 count, but grounded out to first on a curve to end a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left Strasburg at 84 overall after five with seven in-a-row set down.
Andrew Brown worked the count full before flying out to center to start the Mets' sixth. Ike Davis too went to a full count, pushing Strasburg up to 97 pitches before the Mets' first baseman grounded out to his counterpart on the Nats. Travis D'Arnaud screwed himself into the ground swinging through a 1-2 curve that gave Strasburg 10-straight batters retired and 10 Ks. 17-pitch inning, 101 overall after six.
Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 102 P, 64 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
3. Cleanup BuffaRhino: Wilson Ramos entered this afternoon's game with a gaudy .394/.420/.723 line, 10 doubles and seven home runs in 28 games and 100 career PAs against the Mets. New Nats' skipper Matt Williams surprised some, including his catcher, when he penciled Ramos in as the cleanup man for the season opener.
In his first at bat of the game, with one on and two out in the top of the first, the 26-year-old receiver got the green light and took a hack at a 3-0 two-seamer from Dillon Gee, but grounded weakly to first to strand Ryan Zimmerman. 0 for 1. Ramos flew to short right in his second at bat and K'd looking the third time up, 0 for 3, and he left the game after six innings, with Jose Lobaton taking over behind the plate. No immediate explanation for the change. When the explanation came, it was not good news:
Wilson Ramos left the season opener with broken bone in his left hand, per a source. Bad luck for him yet again. http://t.co/V9UTuLRHI5— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) March 31, 2014
2. Gee Whiz: Dillon Gee started this afternoon's season opener with a (7-3) record, a 3.04 ERA, 22 walks (2.57 BB/9) and 56 Ks (6.56 K/9) in 12 starts and 77 IP against the Nationals in his major league career, over which he'd held Washington's hitters to a .242/.304/.428 line. Gee gave up a two-run home run by Adam LaRoche in the top of the second, but that was it through four innings of work against the Nats in which he threw 55 pitches. Three quick outs in the fifth gave Gee 11-straight batters set down after Adam LaRoche's second inning home run.
A 1-2-3 sixth gave Gee 14 batters in-a-row set down. Bryce Harper broke up Gee's string of retired batters at 15 with a one-out single off Eric Young's glove at second, but the Nats' 21-year-old outfielder was forced out at second on an Ian Desmond grounder. Adam LaRoche walked with two down to bringing Anthony Rendon up and the Nats' second baseman cut the Mets' lead in half with an RBI double to right that ended Gee's outing. 4-3 Mets. NY's relievers then gave up the lead and Gee was left with a no-decision after an impressive first outing.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams sent Kevin Frandsen to the plate for the next at bat, but burned the pinch hitter when Mets' manager Terry Collins went to the pen for right-hander Carlos Torres. Left-handed hitter Nate McLouth came up instead and walked in a pinch hit appearance against Torres, loading the bases with two down and Mets' lefty Scott Rice came on and walked Denard Span to force in the tying run. 4-4 game in Citi Field.
Jose Valverde came out next for New York. Ryan Zimmerman battled for nine pitches, working the count full before striking out to end the Nats' seventh. Still tied at 4-4.
1. Lagares! But Then SPAN!!: Drew Storen threw a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Tyler Clippard took over in the bottom of the eighth and served up a 93 mph 0-2 fastball that Mets' center fielder Juan Lagares launched to left field and into the PartyCity.com Deck. 5-4 Mets.
Mets' closer Bobby Parnell gave up a leadoff single by Ian Desmond on the first pitch of the ninth. Adam LaRoche worked the count full, but popped out to David Wright behind third. Anthony Rendon K'd looking at an 0-2 fastball outside. Danny Espinosa hit for the pitcher, got to a 2-2, then a full count and walked. Denard Span stepped up with the tying run at second and lined the first pitch to left for an RBI single that tied it up at 5-5.
Aaron Barrett, 26, made his MLB debut in the bottom of the ninth, throwing an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in which he struck out two Mets.
Jayson Werth and Jose Lobaton hit back-to-back singles off Mets' right-hander Jeurys Familia to start the Nationals' tenth. A passed ball with Bryce Harper up allowed both runners to move into scoring position, but the Nats' 21-year-old slugger K'd swinging at a 3-2 slider in the dirt. Ian Desmond stepped in next and hit a sac fly to center that was deep enough to score Werth from third, 6-5. John Lannan walked the first batter he faced then served up a three-run home run by Anthony Rendon that made it 9-5 Nationals. Jerry Blevins, in his own Nats debut, gave up a two-out, two-run home run by David Wright, but closed it out. 9-7 Nationals final.
Nationals now 1-0