The Washington Nationals won Opening Day in a thriller as most 1-to-0 games are for 8 innings. For 8 innings the Nationals carried that lead with Max Scherzer and the “The Firm” throwing zeros the whole game to finish with a 2-to-0 victory. Pitching and situational pitching seemed to rule this day on both sides. The Nationals scored both of their runs on “productive outs” which you rarely see in modern baseball. It took a hard slide at 2nd base from Bryce Harper to break up a potential doubleplay to score Adam Eaton, and the second run scored in real small-ball as Michael Taylor bunted for a singe then stole second base and went to 3rd base on a groundout and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly from Brian Goodwin.
“The little things matter in this game,” Dave Martinez said about the small-ball approach to score the only two runs in the game. “As I said, we will play aggressive, and we did.”
To start the game, Max Scherzer cruised through the first 3 innings with 8 strikeouts, but had to labor through a 29-pitch 4th inning to continue his day and finished 6 innings with no runs and 10 strikeouts with only 1 walk. For the 7th through 9th inning, it was the relievers a.k.a. “The Firm” of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle who finished up the game to preserve this win for Dave Martinez who earned his first win of his career.
“[Davey Martinez] got a bit of a [beer] shower,” Sean Doolittle said in a celebration of his first win.
For the Nationals offense, they had their chances with 7 at-bats with RISP (runners-in-scoring-position). As mentioned the Nats two runs scored on outs, but they could not capitalize on the opportunities to blow the game open as they had runners on second base and first base with no outs and the heart of the order up and could not score anyone. All Nats starting position players got on-base via hits or walks except Ryan Zimmerman who left five runners on base. The Nationals put 10 runners on-base during the game, and it is hard to complain too much when you win.
Max Scherzer finished the game with 100 pitches thrown, and Dave Martinez said they were monitoring his counts and were not going to let him go any deeper because it is a long season.