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A Brief History Of Washington Nationals' Opening Day Starters.

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The Washington Nationals' Opening Day Starters...

In the first regular season MLB game ever played by the new Washington Nationals, on April 4th 2005, in the miniature ballpark, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA, in the away grays and a navy blue curly-W cap, #61, Livan Hernandez was the original Opening Day starter in the brief history of the nation's capitals' favorite baseball team. Hernandez surrendered 8 hits and 7 runs in 4.2 IP in an 8-4 loss to the Phillies, but went on to collect the second highest season win total of his career in '05, finishing (15-10) with a 3.98 ERA in 246.1 IP... 

The next year, the former Mr. National HimselfLivan Hernadez, started the '06 season on April 3rd, Opening Day in Flushing, Queens, NY's Shea Stadium against New York's Hated Mets, who put up 3 runs in 6.0 innings with Hernandez on the hill, while Tom Glavine held the Nationals to 1 run on 3 hits in the same 6.0 innings pitched, handing the ball to Aaron Heilman, who allowed a run on 5 hits in 2.0 innings, and then Billy Wagner, who closed out a 3-2 win with a scoreless ninth. 

John Patterson took the ball on Opening Day in 2007. The Nationals' first Opening Day at home in RFK Stadium, on Monday April 2, 2007 against the Florida Marlins. Patterson couldn't get out of the fourth, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs on 3 doubles, a triple and a home run in just 3.2 IP. Florida starter, lefty Dontrelle Willis went 6.0 innings, surrendering just 2 runs, 1 earned, on 7 hits in a 9-2 Marlins' win. 

2008's Opening Night starter, Odalis Perez, was on the mound opposite the Braves' Tim Hudson, for the first game ever played in Nationals Park, under the lights at night against Atlanta in a national broadcast on ESPN which saw Perez throw 5.0 innings in which he gave up only 1 run on 4 hits, handing the ball to Saul Rivera, Ray King, Luis Ayala and Jon Rauch, who blew the save and then earned the win when Ryan Zimmerman provided what many view as the high point of the '08 campaign, the walk-off home run the entire baseball world watched. 

DC Manager Manny Acta announced that John Lannan would be the '09 Opening Day starter just the other day, and "Acting" General Manager Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as quoted in an article entitled, "Nats tap Lannan for Opening Day start", that he's impressed by Lannan's, "...command of all his pitches, his poise on the mound beyond his years and his competitiveness on the mound," with Mr. Ladson adding that Lannan, "...clearly is the Nationals' best pitcher." 

Livan Hernandez was the obvious choice for the Opening Day starter as the Nationals' ace in their first two years of existence, earning the nod each time from then-Manager Frank Robinson. New Manager Manny Acta gave John Patterson the honor when he took over the reigns, and Patterson told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Patterson gets ball in Opener", that he felt he was, "...finally going to get rewarded a little bit," for all the hard work he'd done to earn the opportunity, and he considered it, "A big honor."

"Opening Night" Odalis Perez was humbled by Manny Acta's decision to give him the ball, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, who wrote in an article entitled, "Perez gets nod for Nats' Opening Night", that Perez said he was, "...happy because I'm getting this opportunity that a lot of people wanted...":

"...I know if I came to this team, I was going to have a chance to be in the starting rotation. It never crossed my mind [I would be the Opening Day starter]."

On April 6th in Dolphin Stadium against the Marlins, John Lannan will become the fourth Opening Day starter in Nationals' history. Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Nats vs Fish and other updates", reported that, "Lannan called the Opening Day deal 'a great honor.'" At 24, Lannan's the youngest Nationals' starter to get the nod...Livan was 30 and 31, Patterson, 29 in 2007, and Odalis Perez, 31 last year. But what's really important, in my opinion, is that John Lannan is the first Washington Nationals' draft pick to be given the chance to make the start on Opening Day, which is one of many signs that a franchise committed to building from within, is truly beginning to produce some results.

(ed. note - "And just wait til the whole world sees Zimmermann....")

Miniature Game Thread...Orioles at Nationals.

1:05 pm EST this afternoon for the Nationals and Orioles. Last time through the rotation Shairon Martis started after Olsen, but no official word as of 1:49 am EST if he's definite for today's game. Danys Baez for the O's according to their official site...I'll be listening along on the XM dial...")

Who's Watching Following The Nationals?

• ?'s For the DC Faithful...

For the Completists...Full (unedited) Game Report after the jump...(It's Spring, I tried, some guys didn't even have names on their jerseys...")

• With Shawn Hill gone, who do you have for the final two starting spots after Lannan, Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera? Collin Balester, Jordan Zimmermann, Martis or maybe Jason Bergmann? Pick your '09 Rotation...

• Joe Beimel's immediately being talked about as "thee" 8th inning guy? Is that what you had in mind when he signed? Saul Rivera, to Beimel to Joel Hanrahan?

• Are you going to miss Shawn Hill? 

For the Completists...Full (ed. note - "Alright, 'Partial', or 'Unedited'...) Game Report after the Jump...

 

(ed. note - "I quit trying to keep track in the 7th...and just watched the game when I didn't recognize anyone...and no one had names on their jerseys anymore...")

 

Scott Olsen gets a groundball to third from Emilio Bonifacio and a line drive from catcher John Baker to Willie Harris in left for the first two outs of the evening. Jeremy Hermida takes one in the numbers and walks it off on the way to first. Hermida takes second, but can’t advance when Javier Valentin’s throw bounces into center. Cody Ross takes Olsen deep to the gap in right, but Austin Kearns tracks it down for the final out of the Florida first....Lastings Milledge shoots a routine grounder out to second. Willie Harris lines out to left. Ryan Zimmerman takes a few from Josh Johnson and earns a walk in front of Nick Johnson. Josh gets Nick swinging over a bender to end the first. 

 

A leadoff walk to Dan Uggla to start the second. Gaby Sanchez skies one to left. Cameron Maybin steps in against Olsen. Uggla swipes second for the second SB off Valentin. Robert Andino tests Daniel Espinosa with a sharp grounder up the middle...Austin Kearns takes a low fastball inside that’s called strike three. Josh Willingham goes the other way with a grounder through second. The Hammer takes second on a wild pitch/passed ball, and moves to third on a groundout by Ronnie Belliard. Javier Valentin catches one on the fists but fights it off for an RBI bloop single to short right, Willingham scores. 1-0 DC. Daniel Espinosa has a fastball bounce off his hip. Lastings Milledge can’t lay off a bender, and a check-swing K ends the DC second. 

 

Josh Johnson gets one over Milledge’s head in center and doubles to start the top of the third...and Emilio Bonifacio goes the other way down the right field line with a second double to score the pitcher, 1-1 ballgame. Bonifacio steals third. John Baker can’t lay off a slider and can’t get to it either as it breaks over the plate. Jeremy Hermida takes another one off the shoulder on a bender inside that doesn’t bend enough. Cody Ross backs Daniel Espinosa up onto the grass, makes the grab, and then fires home to cut down Emilio Bonifacio, who must have thought he was fast enough...Willie Harris K’s swinging over a nasty breaking ball. Zimmerman’s fly ball hangs up for a while but drops into Maybin’s glove in center. 

 

Olsen’s back in the fourth to face Dan Uggla, who ? Gaby Sanchez who doubles to the gap in left center, Milledge bobbles, but holds him at second. Cameron Maybin grounds to Belliard at second. Robert Andino takes one that Olsen leaves over the plate and slices it into left for an RBI double, 2-1 Marlins. Olsen “walks” the pitcher, though he few more than a few strikes that were called balls. Emilio Bonifacio gets one all the way to the wall in left center for a two-RBI triple. 4-1 Marlins. Olsen imploding. John Baker swings at a low 2-0 pitch and pops it up to end the frame...Austin Kearns takes three swings but can’t connect on any of Johnson’s pitches. Josh Willingham takes a fastball outside for ball four in front of Ronnie Belliard. Belliard grounds into a force at second and turns his ankle at first. Jose Castillo comes on to run. Javier Valentin hammers a hanger for a single. Two on for Espinosa, who grounds to second, for a flip and force. 

 

Jason Bergmann starts the fifth on the mound. Hermida pops out to Zimmerman foul of third. Bergmann gets a check swing K from Ross? replacement? Dan Uggla chops one to third that jumps up on Zimmerman, who lifts the glove to snag it and fires to first, in time! Scoreless frame for Bergmann...Lastings Milledge rips a line drive over short for a single. Willie Harris deeeeep to right...caught by Brett Carroll! Milledge can’t get back in time...doesn’t slide...doubled up...Zimmerman K’s swinging at heat from Johnson, who looks like he’s good for nine...

 

Bergmann gives up a leadoff single in the sixth to Gabby Sanchez. Maybin grounds to short, Espinosa tosses to Castillo, to first, double play. Robert Andino gets a short fly in under a diving Kearns in short right...last out, batter before Uggla replacement?...Nick Johnson against Sean West in the DC sixth. Johnson K’s swinging at a high fastball. Austin Kearns just got hit...Willingham hits a DP grounder, Uggla to Andino to Sanchez at first, double play. 

 

Garrett Mock starts the seventh against Emilio Bonifacio, who triples to right by Austin Kearns. The backup catcher Hayes? doubles over Willie Harris’ head for an RBI double. 5-1 Marlins. Hermida unloads on a fastball for a line drive double to right. 6-1 Marlins. Mock walks Brett Carroll. Chris Coughlin grounds to Castillo at second, who tags Carroll, throws to first, double play...

 

Terrell Young on in the eighth and walks the first batter he faces. Walks the second batter he faces, but saws off Dallas Macpherson to get a DP grounder to Pete Orr at third, to Castillo at second, to Eldred at first, double play. Emilio Bonifacio beats out an infield grounder and another run crosses. 7-1...the Nationals rally in the ninth but come up short...the END.