Nationals Sweep Mets, But Lose to Braves in Opening Week


Mar. 31-April 3: Nats Open Season with 3 Game Series Sweep over Mets
The Washington Nationals opened their 2014 season with a series against the New York Mets, and didn’t waste any time getting in the win column.

The Nationals outlasted the Mets, 9-7, in Game One of the series on March 31 at Citi Field in New York. It was the first game as manager for Matt Williams, who replaced Davey Johnson after his retirement following last season. Williams’ debut was definitely one to remember, as the Nationals went into the 10th inning with the Mets before pulling away for the victory.

Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg overcame a shaky start to tally 10 strikeouts with four earned runs in six innings of work. Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon both hit homeruns; LaRoche also had two RBIs while Rendon had four.

The Nationals went on to sweep the Mets with a 5-1 win on April 2 and an 8-1 win on April 3. Gio Gonzalez showed flashes of his potential as an ace pitcher by burying the Mets in Game Two, giving up just three hits and one earned run in six innings; he also hit a surprising homerun in the fifth inning. Ian Desmond also smashed a homerun for the Nationals.

Game Three of the series was supposed to showcase Jordan Zimmermann, perhaps the most consistent starter for the Nationals last season. But Zimmermann was scratched from the lineup due to flu symptoms, and Tanner Roark filled in at starter. Roark did a decent job, allowing six hits and two earned runs in six innings pitched. Ryan Zimmerman was excellent at the plate, recording four hits, two RBIs and a homerun.

April 4-5: Braves Take First Two of 3 Game Series
The Nationals failed to find the same success in their home-opening series against the Atlanta Braves, a team that has consistently beaten them over the past few seasons.

Washington couldn’t get its hitting going against Atlanta and lost 2-1 in Game One on April 4. Jordan Zimmermann, once again healthy, returned and pitched a strong game, allowing just four hits and one earned run in five innings. Down 2-1 in the ninth inning, the Nationals had a chance to tie game but Bryce Harper, LaRoche and Zimmerman each struck out to end the game.

Game Two was a far more ugly loss for the Nationals, who fell 6-2 on April 5. Strasburg was back up in the rotation, but lasted only four innings after giving up eight hits, three earned runs and six total runs to start the game. The Nats again struggled at the plate, recording just five hits. Atlanta, on the other hand, collected 13 hits and five RBI as they advanced their overall record to 4-1.

Nats’ Player of the Week:eek: Gio Gonzalez
Gonzalez was easily the most impressive player for the Nationals this week despite pitching only one game for the team so far. With just three hits and one earned run in six innings, Gonzalez showed why he might be on the brink of one of the best seasons of his career.
 

Analysis:

Washington opened the season strong with an impressive series sweep over the Mets. But just like last season, the Atlanta Braves simply have their number. The Nationals’ starting pitching and batting seems a little inconsistent, as it was for much of last year. 


Next up:
Washington will complete their Atlanta series on April 6 before taking on the Miami Marlins in a three-game at home series from April 8 to 10. They will thereafter travel to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Braves in another three-game series on April 11 to 13.

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Nationals Sweep Mets, But Lose to Braves in Opening Week

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