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The perfect mix of new and old propels Nationals to Opening Day victory

The perfect mix of new and old propels Nationals to Opening Day victory

WASHINGTON — The Nationals got the 2017 season started off on the right foot thanks to some deft fielding and two big swings on Monday afternoon. 

Stephen Strasburg gave the Nationals seven innings of quality work and his teammates did the rest, defeating the Miami Marlins 4-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 42,744 at Nationals Park.

How It Happened: Edinson Volquez and Stephen Strasburg didn't bring a lot of heat on Opening Day, but the two aces kept the ball in play for the first three innings. But in the top of the fourth inning, Strasburg allowed the Marlins to make contact one too many times. Catcher J.T. Realmuto doubled to center field, and after Christian Yellich filed out, Giancarlo drove in the first run of the season, sending the ball over the head of center fielder Adam Eaton, who was in shallow position. Stanton advanced to third base on a ground out from Justin Bour, before Marcel Ozuna drove him in on a single to center.

The Marlins nearly doubled up their lead in the fifth with two men on, but Bryce Harper came to the rescue. With Vloquez on second and Realmuto on first, Yellich sent a Strasburg pitch deep to right field. Harper had to sprint to the right field wall and make an acrobatic catch to end the inning and prevent the Marlins from taking a commanding 4-0 lead.

The Nationals finally took the offensive in the sixth inning, thanks to Bryce Harper, who belted the fifth Opening Day home run of his career.The very next inning, manager Dusty Baker pulled Strasburg and inserted offseason acquisition and pinch-hitter Adam Lind, who took David Phelps deep for a two-run home run.

A Daniel Murphy single drove in Eaton in the eight to give the Nationals a security run in the eighth inning.

New Faces Deliver: Three of the newest Nationals made big impacts on Opening Day. Adam Eaton, who the team acquired in a trade from the White Sox, finished 1-for-2 with one hit, one run and two walks. Former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters also made his Nationals debut. He singled in the seventh inning, putting a runner on base for the final member of the Nats' new trio, who gave the Nationals the lead for good with a two-run home run.

Bryce Harper Day: Bryce Harper sure does love Opening Day. The Nationals superstar became the first player in the Live Ball Era to hit five Opening Day home runs before his 25th birthday. He also became the only player in franchise history to hit a home run on Opening Day in three consecutive seasons.

Closing It Out: Blake Treinen entered the game in the top of the ninth inning with the Nationals leading 4-2. It marked the first save opportunity for him since being named the team's primary closer. Treinen got dangerous slugger Giancarlo Stanton to pop out in foul territory and struck out Justin Bour on a full count before striking out Ozuna to end the game.

Final Line: Strasburg (W, 1-0): 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?


Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.


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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season


Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.


National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

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