WASHINGTON – On the first pitch of the game, center fielder Brad Wilkerson hit a single to right field off Philadelphia pitcher Jon Lieber on April 4, 2005.
And thus the Nationals were underway in the first regular season game in their history after the team moved from Montreal.
That first game came away from home as the Nationals played their first three seasons at RFK Stadium, which hadn’t been in use on a regular basis for baseball since 1971.
After that first hit by Wilkerson, Lieber retired shortstop Cristian Guzman, second baseman José Vidro, and right fielder José Guillén.
The other starters for the Nationals in that game 17 years ago were first baseman Nick Johnson, third baseman Vinny Castillo, left fielder Termel Sledge, catcher Brian Schneider and starting pitcher Liván Hernández.
Relievers used were T.J. Tucker, Joe Horgan, Antonio Osuna, Joey Eischen and Luis Ayala.
Sledge hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Lieber while Johnson, Castilla, and Schneider each had two hits for the Nationals.
Washington had 13 hits in the game but lost 8-4 to the Phillies.
Hernández gave up a homer to Kenny Lofton in the fifth and the veteran right-hander was charged with the loss before 44,080 fans in Philly in a game that took 3:19 to play.
The last three outs were recorded by Philadelphia reliever Billy Wagner, who was not credited with the save.
A native of Virginia, Wagner ended his career with 422 saves and has received solid Hall of Fame voting in recent years but has yet to be elected.
The Nationals, under manager Frank Robinson, were 81-81 that first season in 2005.
Wilkerson, who broke in with Montreal in 2001, played just one season in Washington. He had 11 homers with an average of .248.
He was with Texas in 2006 and ended his career with Toronto in 2008. The Kentucky native was a first-round pick out of the University of Florida by the Expos.
Other notable Washington events for April 4 include the birthday of Mike Epstein, who was born in The Bronx on April 4, 1943.
The lefty hitter spent time with the Senators for parts of seasons from 1967-71.
He ended his career with the Angels in 1974 and had 130 homers in the majors.