By: Jason Smith
After starting the season off with two straight road trips, the Nationals finally got to play a home game for their Opening Day. Weather across the region has been colder than normal and Thursday was no exception for Washington D.C. This week wasn’t what the Nationals hoped for after starting the season off with four straight wins; however, this team is notorious for heating up along with the weather.
Monday, April 2nd – The Nationals started the week off with a strong outing from Tanner Roark. We all know what the top three pitchers (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strausburg and Gio Gonzalez) will give us, but Roark will be a huge part of how successful the Nationals are in 2018. Roark pitched seven innings of one-run ball in the game to go along with six strikeouts. The offense also showed support for their starting pitcher, scoring two runs in the first inning which marked the fourth straight game the Nationals have scored in the first. The Nationals led for 36 straight innings to begin the season after this game. Their previous record was nine. Bryce Harper added a three run home run in the second inning, his third on the season. Nationals 8, Braves 1
Tuesday, April 3rd – AJ Cole broke camp as the team’s fifth starter. Looking back at the offseason article I wrote, I mentioned that finding a fifth starter was a hole this team needed to fill. This game did not change my mind. Cole got touched for ten runs on ten hits through 3.2 innings. The offense tried to keep the team in the game with home runs by Harper, Zimmerman, and even Cole, but their six runs just weren’t enough. Nationals 6, Braves 13
Wednesday, April 4th – For the rubber match against the Braves in this series the Nationals sent Max Scherzer to the mound. Typically that would play out in the Nationals favor; however, today a costly error by Wilmer Difo in the first inning gave the Braves an extra out where they made it hurt by getting to Scherzer for a two-run home run. Scherzer worked hard through five innings collecting seven strikeouts but allowing five runs (only two earned). The Nationals offense was silenced by Mike Foltynewicz and the Braves bullpen who only allowed one run all game. Nationals 1, Braves 7
Thursday, April 5th – Opening Day. I was able to attend this game, and while the weather wasn’t ideal, the game experience at Nats Park is always a good time. Stephen Strausburg got the start for the home opener against the Mets. The game went back and forth to start and the Nationals were able to keep it close until a Jay Bruce Grand Slam off Brandon Kintzler in the 7th inning broke the game open. The Nationals weren’t able to muster much offense in front of their home crowd against Jacob DeGrom and only came away with two runs. Nationals 2, Mets 8
Saturday, April 7th – Gio Gonzalez got the Mets for his second start of the season. Gio pitched 5.1 strong innings only allowing one run to cross the plate. However, the offense was once again held fairly quiet on the day. Bryce Harper added his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the 6th inning, but the Mets answered with two runs of their own in the top of the 7th. Those two runs off Kintzler would prove to be the difference in the game as the Mets bullpen was able to come in and slam the door on the Nationals. Nationals 2, Mets 3
The Nationals have a game on Sunday Night Baseball against the Mets. They will send Tanner Roark to the mound and hopefully salvage a game this series to avoid the sweep. With the off-day on Friday, Max Scherzer will get the start on Monday, skipping AJ Cole until Wednesday. The Nationals will have a strong offense this year. The last three games don’t show what they are capable of so I am not too worried about the low scoring games they have put together this week. Nationals are home all week with a three game series against the Braves then welcome the Rockies to town for a four game series to end the week.
Current Record – 4-4; Third Place in the N.L. East
This week’s STUD – Bryce Harper – 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 runs, 8 walks, 1 SB