The Budweiser Clydesdales ushered in dozens of servicepeople who unfurled a gigantic American flag, completed by a Navy jet flyover.
Unfortunately, what followed was a slow-moving affair, interrupted by more rain for an hour and a half, and 11 Nats left on base in a 1 for 13 performance with runners in scoring position as the home team fell to the Marlins 6-4 before 41,650, the fourth-largest opening day sellout.
After all the pomp and circumstance, they got down to the actual game -- and starter Tanner Roark found himself in hot water early. After leadoff hitter Dee Gordon popped out to short, four consecutive Marlins hitters singled, the last of which -- by Martin Prado -- scored two runs.
After a pop out, J.T. Realmuto looped one just over Ryan Zimmerman's head at first and another run scored, putting the Nats down three before their first ups.
The Nats answered. Anthony Rendon laced a one-out double off the wall in center off Marlins starter Adam Conley. The young pitcher then walked the next two hitters, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Conley looked to get out of the inning by fooling Jayson Werth -- badly -- on a breaking ball, but Daniel Murphy followed with a line-drive triple off the top of the wall in right to plate all three runners.
Roark put two runners on via free pass in the second, but got Giancarlo Stanton to bounce out to end the frame.
Then the rains -- and wind, and hail and, eventually the tarp -- came. After a rain delay of 1:25, they went back at it. David Phelps relieved Conley for the Marlins, but Roark stayed in for the Nats.
The Marlins went back to work against him. With two down in the third, Realmuto singled up the middle under Danny Espinosa's glove, stole second, went to third on Wilson Ramos' throwing error, and scored on Adeiny Hechavarria's single to make it 4-3.
Roark made it through four innings and the rain delay. He gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits and three walks, striking out three, and gave way to long-man Yusmeiro Petit in the fifth.
It didn't matter. The Marlins picked up another run on a double by Justin Bour and a single by relief pitcher David Phelps -- his first career RBI.
The Nats put two runners on with one out in both the fifth and sixth innings, to no avail.
Miami added another run in the seventh off veteran reliever Matt Belisle. Bour doubled in front of a sliding Jayson Werth, and two batters later Hechavarria doubled off the wall in center to bring him in.
Harper livened it up momentarily in the bottom half of the seventh, crushing a 3-2 sinker (that didn't sink) off the facing of the upper deck above the Nats' bullpen for his second homer of the season and 99th of his young career. Werth walked and Murphy reached on a broken-bat single, but Ramos grounded to short to end the threat.
The Nats put runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but couldn't fin the equalizers.
The two teams take Friday off before facing each other again on Saturday at 4:05 p.m., with Joe Ross hosting Tom Koehler.
WP: David Phelps (1-0) LP: Tanner Roark (0-1, 6.75) S: A.J. Ramos (1) HR: Bryce Harper (2)
- Jayson Werth was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk. For the season, he's 0 for 6 with RISP this season with three Ks.
- Danny Espinosa walked twice and has reached base safely in 6 of 12 plate appearances so far this season.
- The Marlins issued nine (!) walks but the Nats struck out 10 times.
- Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley combined for two innings of shutout relief at the end.
- The Nationals are 2-4 in home openers when the regular season begins on the road.
- The Marlins hold a slim lead in the all-time (2005-pres.) series with the Nationals, 93-107, but the Nationals have turned the tables in recent history...Since 2013, the Nationals have posted a 37-20 (.649) record against Miami, including a 10-9 mark in last season...Since the Marlins became the "Miami" Marlins and moved to Marlins Park in 2012, the Nationals are 46-29 against them.
- When he reaches the 100-homer mark, Harper will join Ryan Zimmerman (200) and Ian Desmond (110) as the only players in WSH history (2005-pres.) to eclipse that milestone.
- Roark has worked at least 6.0 innings 34 times in 48 career starts and has allowed three earned runs or fewer 37 times, two ER or less on 32 occasions, and one ER or fewer 22 times.
- Roark entered play 2-4 with one save and a 3.32 ERA in 12 career games (six starts) against the Miami Marlins...Faced the Marlins more than any other team in 2015