The Miami Marlins' 23-year-old outfielder, Giancarlo Stanton, entered play today 31 for 80 in his career in Nationals Park, with a .388/.451/.913 line, 9 doubles and 11 HRs in 20 games on the road in the nation's capital. In 14 plate appearances against the Washington Nationals' 24-year-old Opening Day starter, Stephen Strasburg, Stanton was 5 for 13, with three doubles and a home run before this afternoon's season opener. Asked in an ESPN Radio interview this winter to name his toughest opponent, the Nats' 09 no.1 overall pick hesitated before acknowledging the success Miami's '07 2nd Round pick has had against him thus far in their respective careers.
"I’m really not scared of anybody," Strasburg said, "But I think a guy who would say he’s had pretty good success early on is probably Giancarlo Stanton. He’s got a lot of power, but, you know what? I throw it pretty hard too, so let’s see how far he could hit it." The first at bat between the two came with a runner on second and one out in the first after Marlins' leadoff man Juan Pierre singled to center on an 0-1 fastball and took second on a Chris Coghlan groundout. Strasburg popped Stanton up to center with a 96 mph first-pitch fastball for out no.2 and a diving play and throw by Ryan Zimmerman at third ended an 11-pitch inning in Game 1 of 162 in 2013.
Davey Johnson joked this weekend when asked about Bryce Harper's "jammed" thumb that it didn't seem to have negatively affected the 20-year-old slugger's swing. Harper finished Spring Training 32 for 67 with five doubles, a triple and three home runs in 25 games and picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2012 Regular Season, extending a nine-game hit streak that ended his rookie campaign with a solo home run to right with two down in the Nationals' first. Harper took a 1-0 curve from Marlins' starter Ricky Nolasco deep to right field and over the out-of-town scoreboard for HR no.1 of 2013 and a 1-0 lead on the Fish after one. 10-game streak extended.
Stephen Strasburg needed 14 pitches to retire the Marlins in order in the top of the second, leaving the Nationals' Opening Day starter at 25 pitches overall in 2.0 scoreless. Ricky Nolasco need 11 pitches to retire the Nats in order in the second, leaving him at 26 overall, down 1-0 after two. A 1-2 curve inside to Marlins' SS Adeiny Hechavarria got Strasburg his first K of 2013. A 98 mph, knee-high heater got Strasburg out and K no.2 in the Marlins' third. The Nats' starter fell behind Juan Pierre 3-0, but got to a full count and got a fly to right to end a 16-pitch inning at 42 pitches overall. 1-0 Nationals. Wilson Ramos walked to start the home-half of the frame, but three outs later he was stranded at third after a sac bunt, groundout and fly to center.
Matchup no.2 between Stanton and Strasburg came with one down in the top of the 4th. A 1-1 fastball got a high fly to right. A groundout to third by Placido Polanco ended the Marlins' half of the inning with the Nats' right-hander having set 12-in-a-row down following Juan Pierre's leadoff single in the first. The 11-pitch inning had Strasburg at 53 after 4.0, up 1-0 on Miami. Make that 2-0. This time it was a 3-2 fastball but it went out to right field again as Bryce Harper hit his second home run in two at bats to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead after four. 2 for 2, 2 HRs. Unreal.
A groundout to second by Marlins' backstop Rob Brantly in the first at bat of the fifth made it 13-straight Marlins set down by Stephen Strasburg. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Donovan Solano gave Ian Desmond some work.That's 14. And 15 on a groundout to second by Casey Kotchman. The 7-pitch inning had Strasburg at 60 pitches overall after 5.0 IP. Nine ground ball outs. Wilson Ramos singled to start the Nationals' fifth, moved to second on a Stras' sac bunt, third on a groundout by Denard Span and was stranded again when Jayson Werth K'd swinging to end the fifth.
Adeiny Hechavarria's fly to right made it 16 in a row set down. Ricky Nolasco hit a sharp grounder to third for out no.2 and batter no. 17 retired. A line drive to center by Juan Pierre made it 18 and another seven-pitch frame had the Nats' starter at 67 pitches overall after 6.0 scoreless vs the Marlins. 10 ground ball outs. Nolasco retired Bryce Harper for the first time today for the first out of the Nationals' sixth, and got Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the next two at bats to keep it close after six.
Stephen Strasburg's 72nd pitch of the game was a 2-2 curve to Chris Coghlan that got the Marlins' outfielder swinging for out no.1 of the 7th, K no. 3 by Strasburg and the 19th straight out, but Giancarlo Stanton ripped a grounder by third in the next AB for a one-out double that ended the streak of retired batters by the Nats' starter. Placido Polanco singled in the next at bat on a grounder up the middle Ian Desmond knocked down but couldn't handle, and with runners on the corners a fly to left by Rob Brantly started a 7-2-3-4-2 inning-ending DP. Harper threw home, Stanton decided not to test him, and Polanco got caught off first... Stanton broke for home and Danny Espinosa threw a strike to Wilson Ramos, who made the tag at the plate to end the double play and the Marlins' seventh. 2-0 Nationals after six and a half.
The National came up empty in the bottom of the seventh, and Tyler Clippard came out for the eighth, ending Strasburg's first start of 2013 after 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 80 pitches, 52 strikes, 10/5 GO/FO with the Nats and their right-hander up 2-0 on the Marlins. Tyler Clippard walked the first batter he faced in the eighth, putting Donovan Solano on to start the frame before retiring the next three batters in order in a scoreless top of the eighth. Denard Span singled for the first time as a National in his fourth at bat of the game, taking a 1-1 fastball from Marlins' lefty Mike Dunn back up the middle for a one-out single, but two outs later he was stranded at first. 2-0 Nationals after eight.
The Nats gave 33-year-old closer Rafael Soriano a 2-year/$28M dollar deal to make him their ninth inning man and the right-hander got his first opportunity to earn a save when he entered the game with a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the season opener. A 92 mph 0-1 fastball to Juan Pierre got a fly to right. ONE!! Chris Coghlan took a letter-high heater outside for a called strike three. TWO!! Giancarlo Stanton took a called strike three. Ballgame. Untuck that jersey!!! Nats win!! 2-0 final.
Nationals now 1-0.