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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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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.