Nats Sweep Miami Marlins (April 1-April 4)

The Washington Nationals swept the once-pesky Miami Marlins in three straight games at Nationals Park during the opening week of the 2013 season.

During the three-game series, the Nats outscored the Marlins 11-1 and had three solid starts from the top of the pitching rotation in Stephen Strasburg (seven shutout innings), Gio Gonzalez (six shutout innings), and Jordan Zimmermann (one unearned run in six innings).

Newly-acquired closer Raphael Soriano notched two saves while star outfielder Bryce Harper led the team with hits in all three games, including a two-homerun game on Opening Day in front of the second-largest crowd in Nationals Park history. The 45,274 fans in attendance were the most ever for a regular season game.

In the briskly cold second game, starting pitcher Gonzalez brought the crowd to their feet with his second career homerun in the fifth inning to cap off his first start of the season.  

Game 3 was highlighted by Jayson Werth’s towering blast in the seventh inning to put away the game and the series. In the series, the three starters gave up no earned runs for a perfect ERA of 0.00.

The Marlins had a virtual fire sale of all of their premium talent this off-season, making them an easy target for the better team in Washington. Yet it was still a good sign to see the Nationals making light work of a weaker team, especially considering how Washington often had problems closing out games against bad teams last season.

Nats Split with Reds (April 5-April 7)

Washington visited Cincinnati’s very “homerun friendly” Great American Ballpark to battle the former National League MVP Joey Votto and the defending NL Central champion Reds.

The opener on April 5 was one to forget. Starting pitcher Dan Haren made his Nationals debut and wasn’t very sharp, as he and the other relievers gave up six homeruns in a 15-0 loss, the most lopsided defeat in team history.

The next day could be considered a lot of things: it was a gut check, an instant classic, a heart attack, and dagger all in one. Ian Desmond atoned for his two costly defensive errors when he hit the go-ahead homerun in the 11th inning. Wilson Ramos followed Desmond’s blast with a homer himself, his second of the game and first since he suffered a devastating ACL injury last year in that same park.

Harper and Jason Werth also contributed homeruns as the Nats overcome the loss of their 5-0 lead and blown save by Rafael Soriano to win, 7-6.

Player of the Week: Harper slugged three homeruns and hit at a .381 average. But he did make a poor decision in the field during the April 6 game against the Reds by not throwing to the second baseman, and instead trying to show off his arm, only to throw the ball behind the catcher and allow two runners to advance.

Next Week: Interleague play kicks off as former Nat Adam Dunn and the Chicago White Sox come to town for three games starting April 9. The Nats will then take on divisional foe Atlanta Braves for three more games through the weekend of April 12 to April 14.


Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO