There must be something about Nationals managerial debuts.
Much like Matt Williams' first game on Opening Day of 2014, Dusty Baker's maiden voyage as Nats skipper had just about all you could ask for in a baseball game. There were plenty of positives in the extra innings victory, including another home run by Bryce Harper and a bullpen that helped make up for its own mistakes.
There were also plenty of frustrating moments including a bullpen disaster in the eighth inning and an injury to Ben Revere. The end result, though, was a win and that left Baker off to a good start with his new team.
“It’s kind of like the game telling me: ‘Welcome back.’ There were a lot of highs and lows in that game. Boy, that was some ballgame," Baker said.
Baker saw his team take one-run leads twice in the first four innings on solo home runs, only to give them back on homers against Max Scherzer one frame later. Then, at 2-2 in the eighth inning, Felipe Rivero loaded the bases. His replacement, Shawn Kelley, promptly walked home a run to make it 3-2 Braves.
The very next inning saw the Nationals plate the equalizer on a sacrifice fly to center field by Michael Taylor. That set up a go-ahead RBI double by Daniel Murphy - also new to the Nats - in the 10th inning.
On top of all that, the Nationals also became the first team to benefit from MLB's new rule outlawing off-the-bag takeout slides. All in a day's work.
Afterwards, Baker was given a gameball for his first victory as Nats skipper. It will go down as one of many mementos he's collected through his six decades in Major League Baseball, but it's one he will cherish nonetheless.
"I felt very flattered that [Jonathan Papelbon] and the team, they gave me my first victory ball in a Nationals uniform, so it can go to the house with all the other ones."
Nationals players were happy to deliver Baker the win in his first game with Washington, even if it wasn't as easy as they would have preferred.
"He's going to be a big part of our leadership, and kind of just setting the tone," Scherzer said. "He's already done that in spring, and he's done it here today. For us to go out there and get a big win, a comeback win especially here late in the game, we found a way to get the ball to him pretty nicely."
Only so much can be drawn from a single game, but Bryce Harper thought the way the Nationals beat the Braves - by coming back to tie it and force extra innings - spoke to a larger message Baker has been preaching since he took over the team.
"Dusty's been great for us," Harper said. "He reiterates every single day to keep battling, keep grinding, throughout the whole game and thats' what were going to do. We're going to fight to the end no matter if it's eight to one or whatever."
Over the course of this 162-game season there will be plenty of highs and probably plenty of lows as well. It just might be a while before this many all come in one game.