If you felt like the Nationals’ 2009 debut looked an awful lot like one of the 17 games they played against the Marlins in 2008, you’re not alone. From an offense that couldn’t figure out Florida starter Ricky Nolasco (who gave up three runs in 13 innings against Washington last year) until it was too late to a defense that prolonged innings with misplays and errors and got burned for it, this didn’t leave a whole lot of reason to believe the Nats will be much different this year.
We say this, of course, with the realization it’s just one game. Things could well be different by tomorrow, but it’s worth pointing out how many of the game’s themes were much like last year’s. The one silver lining in this game is that the Nationals put up six runs and drew within three of the Marlins in the sixth inning after it looked like the game was over. If you were waiting to see what kind of a difference Adam Dunn will make to the lineup, you could see it there. The left-handed slugger drove in a run with his fourth-inning double and absolutely crushed a 1-1 pitch from Nolasco in the sixth inning for a three-run homer.
“He did his part,” manager Manny Acta said. “Not too many games are you going to see a team score five runs in six innings off a guy like Ricky Nolasco. We gave him a battle there, but unfortunately, we got ourselves in a hole.”
The day was also uncharacteristically bad for John Lannan, who didn’t do much of what made him successful last year. He only threw first-pitch strikes to five of 16 batters, and never got the foundation with his fastball that he has on days where’s he’s rolling.
“I was struggling today, and it’s not how I throw, you know?” Lannan said. “I usually get ahead with my two-seamer. Today it wasn’t sinking. I wasn’t myself, I guess you could say.”
Scott Olsen against Josh Johnson tomorrow. Say this for the former Marlins left-hander: He must have answered every question he could have about facing his old team (including a couple from me). To sum up: Yes, he enjoyed his time in Florida. No, he’s not nostalgic about being here because he knows it’s a business and the Marlins helped launch his career.
Back with more tomorrow night.
— Ben Goessling