Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg give Nationals Opening Day win over Marlins

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

For years, the Washington Nationals and their fans waited for this day.

Sun splashed over their ballpark with bunting hanging from its facades. Awards recognizing the talent that made last season so special handed out en masse. A banner unveiling.

SEE ALSO: FENNO: Clint Romesha’s quiet Opening Day tribute a reminder of true heroism

And their two phenoms on the same field performing the way they envisioned back when being favored to win a World Series was something meant for other teams. This is the year it’s all supposed to come together for the Nationals, starting with their otherworldly ace and their fiery 20-year-old outfielder.

In the Nationals’ 2-0 Opening Day victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday afternoon, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg issued their opening salvo to the rest of the major leagues: We’ve arrived.

“You just sit back and watch it,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche. “Let Harper and Stras go to work. They didn’t need us. It was fun.”

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds  first base as he hits his second home run of the game in the bottom of the 4th inning as the Washington Nationals play the Miami Marlins on opening day at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 1, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Enlarge Photo

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds first base as he ... more >

To be sure, they had help. Multiple sharp defensive plays and two scoreless innings of relief to close it out. But when Harper hits two home runs in his first two at-bats, and Strasburg tosses seven dominant innings, it’s hard to focus on much else.

“You couldn’t really have scripted it too much better,” said right-hander Tyler Clippard. “Offensively I’m sure these guys would have loved to have scored 10 runs, but that’s not going to happen every night. With Harp getting in there with a couple and Stephen pitching the way he did, it was really fun being out there.”

Harper strode to the plate in the bottom of the first inning with two outs. He watched a split-fingered fastball from Ricky Nolasco go by. Then he crushed a curveball into the right-field seats and burst into the Nationals’ dugout doling out high-fives so forceful third baseman Ryan Zimmerman playfully told him to ease up.

In his second at-bat, he did it again.

This one was a slider, a 3-2 pitch from Nolasco. It, too, went to the right-field seats.

“We’re just laughing,” LaRoche said. “I look at [manager Davey Johnson and bench coach Randy Knorr] and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ We shouldn’t be surprised anymore with some of the stuff both of those guys have done, but you’re just like, ‘Wow.’”

Harper added a strike to home plate from left field in the seventh to start an inning-ending double play on the Marlins’ only real threat of the afternoon.

“You just shake your head in amazement,” center fielder Denard Span said. “You don’t see that too often from anybody, period. But to see him, as a 20-year-old, it’s like he’s just writing a book. … I think he believes he can do anything and I think he shows that, too.”

The 45,274 at Nationals Park, the largest regular-season crowd in the park’s history, stood and cheered Harper at every opportunity. They roused him from the dugout for a curtain call, after he’d gotten the permission from veteran Chad Tracy to take it. They showered him with their praise the rest of the afternoon, the thought of what else this season could bring dancing in their minds.

“The first one was very cool,” Harper said. “I think being able to share that with these fans, my family and this organization was a great moment. The second one I didn’t really take full advantage of. It was over and I’m done. I think the first one really caught me. I was really excited.”

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • Hall of Fame Inductees, KISS, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley speak at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    KISS rocker Gene Simmons touts 1 percent life: ‘It’s fantastic’

  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama