The Washington Times - April 10, 2009, 03:54PM

Good afternoon from Turner Field in Atlanta, where the Braves are celebrating their home opener tonight and hoping the weather cooperates.

It rained earlier today when I arrived in town, and the skies have looked menacing ever since. But it appears the worst of the storm that is bearing down on the Southeast today is staying north of here, so we might be in the clear.


That’s good news for the Nats, who could use some sunshine right now in the wake of their 0-3 start in Miami earlier this week. The task doesn’t get any easier tonight, with new Braves ace Derek Lowe (who absolutely dominated the Phillies on Opening Night) on the mound. Lowe has had plenty of success against the Nats in his career, owning a 5-1 record and 2.77 ERA in 12 appearances (six starts) against the franchise. In two starts last year against Washington, Lowe (then pitching for the Dodgers) allowed only two runs and seven hits in 16 innings). Gulp.

Thus, there will be some pressure on Nats starter Shairon Martis to come through with the rotation’s first quality start of the young season. Martis, of course, is 22 years old and has made all of five big-league appearances. But the good news is: He made his major-league debut right here last September, and acquitted himself quite well in the process. Though he suffered a hard-luck, 2-0 loss to the Braves, Martis allowed only two runs and four hits in five innings.

I’ll have lineups and (hopefully) some updates on the status of Ronnie Belliard (who came out of Wednesday’s game with a back injury) and Anderson Hernandez (who is eligible to come off the DL tomorrow but I believe is still a little ways away from returning.