Donovan Solano pulled up outside Miami International Airport on Monday night and waited. The Miami Marlins infielder had just finished the eighth full day of his major league career and here he was to pick up his brother, Jhonatan, whom the Washington Nationals had summoned for his first shot in the majors.
It won't be until Tuesday or Wednesday, but at some point this week, Ross Detwiler will take the walk from the Washington Nationals' dugout to their bullpen. After nine starts, six exceptional and three mediocre, Detwiler's current stay in the starting rotation is over.
The difference between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals since baseball returned to D.C. has been easy to spot and vast. Losing 30 more games than you win against your rival to the northeast will do that. And the Nationals spent the first few years of their existence playing doormat to the perennial National League East champions.
The moment the ball hit his bat, Wilson Ramos knew. He flung his arms out, dropped his bat and lifted his hands above his head. He held the pose all the way to first base, as his teammates poured out of the Washington Nationals' dugout, the clock inching toward 11 p.m., and the raucous Nationals Park crowd showering them with adulation.
Gio Gonzalez walked into the dugout at Petco Park Tuesday night, six more scoreless innings in the books for the left-hander, and knew his night was likely over. With the Washington Nationals scraping for every run they can get these days and the San Diego Padres doing the same, he knew his upcoming spot in the order would likely go to someone else.
The first time he did it, Chad Tracy was a good story. A journeyman infielder who'd traveled halfway around the world and back to keep his career alive. He was one of the final players to earn a place on the Washington Nationals' 25-man roster, on the second-to-last day of spring training.
For seven innings Thursday afternoon, the worst fears of the Washington Nationals were realized. Opening Day, their ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound and one hit on the board.
The outcome of the game — and we'll get to that in a moment — seemed almost incidental Thursday for the Washington Nationals. Of much greater import was the performance of Stephen Strasburg, who was starting the first of what the club is hoping will be a career full of season openers. Did Strasburg look like Strasburg?
Taking a look at the roster the Nationals will break the 2012 season with.