Postgame analysis of the Nats' 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in their second game of 2016:
How it happened: Sometimes big plays can come from the places you least expect and that was true for the Nationals on Wednesday. Left off the Opening Day roster, Matt den Dekker was called up earlier on Wednesday afternoon to replace Ben Revere, and he arrived just in time to notch the go-ahead RBI in the Nats' 3-1 win over the Braves. That made the difference on a night the Nationals' offense otherwise struggled, and it helped award Stephen Strasburg the win in his first appearance of the 2016 season. Jonathan Papelbon also recorded his second save just in time for his official return to Nationals Park for the home opener. Will that make the home fans be nice to him during introductions? We'll see.
What it means: The Nationals are off to a good start with two wins against a team they should beat up on a lot this season. The opener may have been a difficult one to pull out, but the Nats can now turn to their first homestand against the Marlins and then Braves again. The Braves will play four at Nationals Park before the Nats go to Philly.
den Dekker comes through: With Revere landing on the disabled list earlier with a right oblique strain, den Dekker was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to take his place and a late arrival at the stadium prevented him from taking his normal batting practice. But that apparently did not matter, as the outfielder came up huge as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He delivered the most costly strike against Braves' starter Bud Norris, a two-RBI double off the wall in right-center field. den Dekker brought home both Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead.
Strasburg sets record in strong outing: Strasburg may look on the three walks he issued with regret, but overall it was a very solid season debut for the Nationals' right-hander. Strasburg went six innings, allowing just one run off six hits with four strikeouts. The lone run he gave up was in the fourth inning on an RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski. That hit came after back-to-back walks to Nick Markakis and Hector Olivera. Strasburg's second strikeout broke Jordan Zimmermann's all-time team record for career strikeouts. The previous mark was 903, but Strasburg now has the most with 906.
Rivero and Kelley much better this time: We saw Nats relievers Felipe Rivero and Shawn Kelley combine to pitch an inning for the second straight game, but this time the results were much different. Kelley again faced one batter, this time starting off the seventh inning by getting Olivera to fly out. Rivero took over from there and got a quick groundout by Pierzynski before he struck out Gordon Beckham. Rivero then went back out there for the eighth and got three uneventful outs. It was a nice rebound for the pair of Nats' pitchers who had a lot of time to think about their disappointing debuts with the off-day on Tuesday.
Early impressions of new-look Braves: The Braves underwent another offseason of significant change and through just two games it's hard to get a full read on them, despite the fact they played the Nats closely. Here are a few thoughts, however. For one, Ender Inciarte is pretty darn good. He was acquired in the Shelby Miller trade with Arizona that also netted the Braves Dansby Swanson, the reigning No. 1 overall pick. Inciarte is an elite defensive center fielder and hit .303 last year. Bud Norris ran into some trouble in the seventh, but overall had a nice debut. He may be back to his 2014 form. Erick Aybar, though, might be a problem for Atlanta at shortstop. There is a noticeable drop-off from Andrelton Simmons, whom they traded to the Angels this winter. Then again, there's a drop-off from Simmons to just about every other MLB shortstop when it comes to defense.
Up next: The Nationals return to Washington for their 2016 home opener. Tanner Roark gets the ball for the Nats, while lefty Adam Conley is set to start for Miami. The Marlins are still searching for their first win of the season after dropping two to the Detroit Tigers.