5. Max Scherzer's Nationals debut: Max Scherzer told reporters in the nation's capital this weekend that he never skipped school to watch Opening Day baseball when he was growing up.
"No, parents wouldn't let me," the 30-year-old right-hander joked.
After signing a 7-year/$210M deal with Washington this winter, Scherzer was picked by Nats' skipper Matt Williams to start on Opening Day after three seasons of Stephen Strasburg getting the nod in the season opener. While Scherzer remarked that he would be more excited about starting a postseason game, he did acknowledge that it was a special occasion.
"Everybody is excited," Scherzer said. "Baseball is back. You feel like this is kind of a dead time in sports. So when baseball is back and it's every single day, it just feels right."
He spent a lot of time this Spring getting to know his new teammates and more importantly, his new catchers. This afternoon was, of course, the first time he worked with Nationals' backstop Wilson Ramos in regular season action.
"Just trying to get on the same page," Scherzer explained when asked if he was comfortable with the Nats' catchers.
"They're good, smart catchers, both of them. Really like throwing [to them]. [Ramos] has that big frame, I always like big catchers, it makes it easy to throw it to them. So it's just a matter of getting on the same page. How you want to work together and just different types of situational stuff. What you want to try to execute. What you feel comfortable executing."
Scherzer's time with the Nationals began with an eight-pitch walk to Mets' leadoff man Curtis Granderson. Three outs later, however, Granderson was stranded at first after Scherzer popped up David Wright, struck Lucas Duda out with a 96 mph 1-2 fastball that was tipped into Ramos' glove and induced a grounder to third from Michael Cuddyer that Yunel Escobar handled. 20-pitch first.
An eight-pitch second was followed by a seven-pitch third, and after an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth, Scherzer was up to 46 pitches and 12-straight Mets' hitters retired. A diving 1-2 slider struck Travis d'Arnaud out to make it 15-straight Mets set down. Scherzer's 10-pitch fifth left him at 56 pitches overall.
Scherzer's streak of retired batters ended at 17-straight when he issued the second walk of the game, and second to Granderson, with two down in the Mets' sixth. David Wright popped to short right in the next at bat, but Dan Uggla and Ian Desmond converged on the ball and let it drop for an E6 that kept Scherzer's no-hit bid in tact. Lucas Duda stepped in next with runners on second and third and lined a 98 mph 1-2 fastball to right for a two-run single that made it 2-1 Mets after five and a half. 20-pitch frame for Scherzer, 76 total.
Ian Desmond's second error of the game put Juan Lagares on with one down in the Mets' seventh, and NY's center fielder scored on an RBI triple to center by Travis d'Arnaud in the next at bat. 3-1. 89 overall after a 13-pitch seventh.
Scherzer came back out for the eighth and gave up a two-out dribbler toward third off Duda's bat that beat the shift and a single to right by Michael Cuddyer that ended the right-hander's Nationals debut.
Scherzer's Line: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 97 P, 71 S, 6/5 GO/FO.
4. Dan Uggla in OD lineup: With his well-documented issues with what was eventually, after a few years, diagnosed as an oculomotor dysfunction seemingly behind him, veteran infielder Dan Uggla came into camp with the Nationals on a minor league deal and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. When the Nats announced their Opening Day lineup this morning, the 35-year-old infielder was penciled in as the no.7 hitter and starting second baseman.
"I think Dan had a great spring, he worked really hard, and you know he's got many, many Opening Days under his belt," Matt Williams explained when asked about the decision to go with Uggla at second, and Yunel Escobar, who was acquired to play second before Anthony Rendon went down with an injury, at third.
"[Uggla is] not fazed by that. He had a great spring. He hit the ball well, he saw the ball well, he's a great teammate.
"So I'm happy for him. Happy for all our guys to get here and let it all hang out today. I know they're excited, optimistic. It starts today."
While Uggla got the start today, the Nationals' second-year skipper said there will be some mixing and matching as the Nats wait for some of their injured players to return.
"Well, it can change on an everyday basis depending on who we're facing," Williams said. "The situation that we're in is three of our regulars are out currently, so we'll have to mix and match that a little bit depending on the day and depending on matchups. How guys are feeling. But today, we certainly have some power at the bottom of the lineup today with Danny and [Tyler Moore]. [Michael Taylor] has been swinging the bat great and hitting in the leadoff spot, so he's comfortable there. Yunel playing third has looked great in the time that he's been over there, and it opens up our ability to play in the middle of the diamond a bit with [Danny Espinosa] and Uggla. So all of those things go into it. But for today, [Mets' starter] Bartolo [Colon is] gonna throw fastballs. It's what he does. He throws a lot of strikes. So that was the main reason we put Uggs in the lineup today.
Uggla went 0 for 2 with a K against Colon... and 0 for 3 overall.
3. Big Bart: Bartolo Colon, 41, was (0-3) in five Grapefruit League outings, with a 7.02 ERA and a .348 BAA this Spring.
In five starts against the Nationals in 2014, the veteran right-hander was (1-4) with a 4.50 ERA, but in Nationals Park, he was (1-1) in two starts with a 3.86 ERA.
Colon's first start of the 2015 campaign began with three scoreless innings in which he threw a total of 40 pitches.
His 42nd pitch ended up in the right field seats though, as Bryce Harper launched an 89 mph 1-0 fastball to right.
Harper's first of 2015, and the 3rd Opening Day home runs of his career cleared the out-of-town scoreboard and put the Nationals up 1-0 after four in the nation's capital.
Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Colon struck Wilson Ramos out to strand two and complete a 21-pitch sixth that left him at 86 pitches overall.
Colon's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 86 P, 59 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
2. Turning Points: After Bryce Harper's home run in the fourth put the Nationals ahead, 1-0, Max Scherzer was cruising through 5 ⅔ before he issued the second walk of the game to Curtis Granderson, who accounted for the Mets only two base runners to that point, having walked in the first at bat of the game as well. Scherzer looked to be out of trouble, however, when he popped David Wright up, but Ian Desmond went a long way to short right field and called Dan Uggla off before letting the ball fall into the outfield grass for what was ruled an E:6. Lucas Duda followed with the Mets' first hit of the game, driving both runners in for a 2-1 lead.
Ian Desmond's second error of the game came with one out in the Mets' seventh. Juan Lagares reached on a grounder to short when Desmond skipped a throw to first Ryan Zimmerman couldn't backhand, and scored on an RBI triple to center by Travis d'Arnaud that Michael Taylor tracked to the wall but failed to catch. 3-1 NY.
1. The Wrap-Up: Carlos Torres took over for Colon in the Nationals' seventh and retired the side in order.
Xavier Cedeno took over for Max Scherzer with two on and two out in the Mets' eighth and recorded the final out of the frame.
Jeurys Familia set the Nationals down in order in the eighth, striking out two in a 14-pitch frame.
Aaron Barrett put two runners on in the top of the ninth before he was replaced by Matt Thornton, who recorded the final out of the frame.
Jerry Blevins, who was traded to New York at the end of Spring Training, took the mound against his former team in the bottom of the ninth and retired Bryce Harper on a line drive to right before he was replaced on the mound by right-hander Buddy Carlyle.
Nationals now 0-1.