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Game 1: Braves at Nats

Mar 31, 2011, 2:00 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park is ready to go for Opening Day.

It's cold. It's damp. It's barely fit for man or beast outside. But it looks like there will be baseball today on South Capitol Street, and what could be better than that?

Actually, the forecast is much better today than it looked yesterday. The chance of rain from 1-4 p.m. is only 10 percent (though it skyrockets to 70 percent at 4 p.m., so you better hope they don't go extra innings). Temperatures will be in the low 40s, so bundle up, but be ready for baseball.

Livan Hernandez gets the ball for the Nationals, making the ninth Opening Day start of his career. Amazingly, there's only one other active pitcher with as many: Roy Halladay, who also makes his ninth Opening Day start tomorrow in Philadelphia.

Veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe starts for Atlanta, a bit of a surprise considering Tim Hudson's dominance over the Nationals franchise (10-2, 1.91 ERA in his career) vs. Lowe's career numbers (8-7, 3.64 ERA). Lowe, though, was huge for the Braves down the stretch last season, going 5-0 in September. And Hudson will start Atlanta's home opener next week.

Plenty of updates to come, so be sure to check back often…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Chance of rain late, 42 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF

SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche


  1. Knoxville Nat - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Sure would be nice to start the season with an error free game by the Nats. With all the emphasis placed on improving the defense in the offseason it would be great to see some positive results.Go Nats.

  2. Manassas Nats Fan - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I have to be teaching today, but can check my computer ever few minutes so I am looking forward to reports of the game. Thanks Mark

  3. Brian Benson - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Will be watching the Nats and about 5 other games…chilly for baseball, but I am happy the season is starting…

  4. sunderland - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    In the Bullpen bar. Cold damp but psyched.

  5. Theophilus - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Would be nicer to start the season in April.

  6. edward - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    best day of the year, hope we get a win to keep it like that

  7. Tcostant - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Tickets are on stubhub for less than a buck right now, not just singles either.

  8. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    We already way ahead of the game: 1)The stadium is not under occupation by enemy fans. 2)The pitching match up is not hopeless. 3)We are tied for 1st place. 4)No Willie Tavares. 5)No Brian Bruney. Go Nats,

  9. Theophilus - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Hoping that Gaudin's and Coffey's high jersey nos. are indicative of their dispensabilty.

  10. HabsProf - Mar 31, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Ah, 'tis Opening Day. Across the land, the sun is shining, fans are smiling…Hope springs eternal.Except for me, where 3 of my players in my fantasy team have landed on the DL in the two days since the draft.Sigh.

  11. The Adventurers - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Sending good vibes the Nats' way from Nebraska. Vive les Natspos!

  12. DFL - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Unpleasant weather in Washington. Skies are dark and everything is wet although the rain has stopped. It is 43 degrees. Miserable conditions to play baseball. Miserable conditions to watch baseball. Today is proof that starting the baseball season on March 30 is foolish. Who can blame the fans from staying away for Opening Day?And for proposals. Start the season around April 7. Design the schedule to have as many games in warm-weather or domed sites. In the NL, Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Arizona, Los Angeles and San Diego play the bulk of early April at home. As do the Angels, Tampa, Texas, Minnesota and Seattle in the AL.

  13. Knoxville Nat - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    Stuck in the office today with no XM to listen to. Does anyone know if WJFK or WFED broadcasts the game over the internet?

  14. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    DFL, The only way to start later and to finish before Christmas is to schedule 5 or 6 double headers for each team; this was the norm in the past (I don't remember when it stopped) but teams are no longer willing to lose the gate receipts which the 2 for the price of 1 necessitates.

  15. natsfan1a - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    I don't think so, Knoxville. Maybe it's possible to subscribe to gameday audio for one game via the MLB site?

  16. A DC Wonk - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    JD wrote:=======We already way ahead of the game:1)The stadium is not under occupation by enemy fans.2)The pitching match up is not hopeless.3)We are tied for 1st place.4)No Willie Tavares.5)No Brian Bruney.==========Here, here!Also: 6) no Nieves as backup catcher7) JZimm and Marquis healthy

  17. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    This year again, hope will have to spring from the minors … wondering if Doug Harris has released the minor league rosters yet?

  18. Nattydread - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    Wishing the Nats well from Nairobi!

  19. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Knoxville- they can't since MLB owns the rights. Gameday audio is only $20 for the whole season. Sign up at if you're interested.Iowanats

  20. Knoxville Nat - Mar 31, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Iowanats,Thanks for the tip.

  21. waddu eye no - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!i'm so immature on opening day

  22. dj in Fl. - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    It is wonderful to see a full stadium !But, it was not necessary to send us cold rainy weather so we could feel a part of big day.

  23. cadeck13 - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    waddu eye no – we're all so immature on opening day! it's so much fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. phil dunn - Mar 31, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    Not a good start for Desmond batting leadoff. He's hitting like Nyjer.

  25. Les in NC - Mar 31, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    The ump must be thinking the batter's box lines are what makes up the strike zone… and he is calling low balls also, no wonder Lowe is able to K so many…

  26. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    I think everyone just wants to get out of the cold.

  27. Tcostant - Mar 31, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    It's opening day for the plate ump too :)

  28. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    Why did he have to take Livo out??

  29. The Joker - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Sure could use Adam Dunn in this banjo hitting line-up.

  30. Les in NC - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    what for, Joker? so he can strike out with the game on the line? We're doing a fine job of that without him.I liked Dunn too, but the pining for him has to stop! The team will be just fine without him, thanks.

  31. Tcostant - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Time for Mark to leave the press box and take some pics, that way we can get some runs!

  32. Mr. Doggett - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    I agree with Les and with the scout that called Dunn a "range-less behemoth."Just google that phrase and look what comes up first and second.

  33. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    I hate the pinch hitter choices in the bottom of the 7th. I would have gone Ramos and Stairs.

  34. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Mark! You have to leave the press box in the bottom of the 9th. It's all up to you!

  35. Les in NC - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Oh it's so good to see that cocked hat look that Burnett likes so well! And a great job pitching the 9th! C'mon boys lets get those bats warmed up!

  36. A DC Wonk - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    Clippard — two-on, one-out, full-count change-up for the strike out. Gotta like that!

  37. Opener - Mar 31, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    What a boring game! It did illustrate very well the weaknesses and strenght of this team.

  38. Cwj - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    I gotta say, this was one of the easiest losses to swallow I've ever seen from the Nats.Pitching and defense were great. The Braves are a very good team, and well, it's just great to watch baseball again :)

  39. Big Cat - Mar 31, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Never thought I'd say this…..but that was a good, well played game. Nats look like a pro team. Pitched well, fielded well. Didn't hit that well, but the Braves have some nasty pitching. I think they are coming back with Hudson on Sat. He owns us. We very well could be 0-2 on Sat night, but I feel good about this team. First time I've seen Coffey in person. Man, he really fills out that uniform doesn't he

  40. JaneB - Mar 31, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    I wanted to tell Mark to get out of the press box today too! We needed done Zuckerman effect!I dont think I have willingly spent four hours outside in weather this cold and damp in my adult life.Fun to be there for the first Opening Day for Espy and Broderick, and even the Braves' new skipper. Missed the Dunn when they as ounces Adam….. LaRoche. But loved LaRoche's defense. Liked that we honored Japan, another baseball loving country. Go Nats!!

  41. dryw - Mar 31, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    I have to agree with Cwj and Big Cat. Of course, I'd rather have started the season with a curly W, but to lose a close, well-played game to one of the real powerhouses in the division is no shame. The Nats were neither blown out nor embarrassed, and I continue to have hope for the season as a whole.Les in NC, I guess I can see your point about not pining for Dunn. But I'm also going to say that as long as the people sitting in my section persist in commenting every time LaRoche makes a play at first (routine or otherwise), I'm going to persist in commenting every time LaRoche fails to hit a home run. Just saying.

  42. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Mar 31, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Just back from the game, longjohns off and I gotta say I'm really impressed. The Nats defense was out-freaking-standing, kept us in the game. Werth is a real pro. So is Ankiel. This game would have been 5-0 or worse last year. They ran into a buzz saw with Lowe on a cold day with his hot sinker. But overall, very impressed with the professionalism, no errors, didn't give one extra out. This is going to be just fine. I'm happy with my 82-victory prediction, even if that puts me in company with Ladson. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

  43. JD - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Just a couple of things which irritated me today: 1) Why take Livo out with 1 man on base after he retired 15 in a row having only thrown 77 pitches? 2) If you won't use Stairs with a man on down by 2 in the bottom of the 7th against a righty then why is he on the team? Not based on today's game but overall I don't think Desmond at leadoff will work; doesn't take a walk, doesn't work the count, doesn't scratch and claw to get on base. I am not really upset at the loss but it did serve as a reminder that Riggleman isn't gonna win any games with his in game managing.

  44. Theophilus - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    dryw –No offense, but if you'd commented every time Dunn left runners on base you'd be known as "loquacious."

  45. Theophilus - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    JD — Reasons for not using Stairs in the 7th: there were two down, runner on third, first base open. No incentive to pitch to Stairs, just let him take his walk (unintentional intentional kind) and pitch to the right-handed Desmond. I think Stairs is going to get 90 percent of his ABs when Riggleman thinks it's going to be the Nats last ABs of the game. Either to win in the eighth or tie/win it in the 9th. Or when he thinks he can force the other manager to take a pitcher out of the game that Riggleman really wants to see gone.

  46. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    After all the hype of spring training, they just laid a gigantic egg.

  47. Feel Wood - Mar 31, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Riggleman's managerial decisions absolutely confound me. No reason whatsoever to pull Livo when he did. But beyond that one, you have a guy in Stairs taking up a spot on your roster whose only reason for being there is to be a big pinch hit bat off the bench in clutch situations. You're behind 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh, two out, man on third, pitcher's spot up. This is the critical turning point of the game. Why are you not pinch hitting with Stairs? Unless you can get past this spot, there will be no later opportunity to use him. And so what if they walk him? That keeps the inning going for the top of your order. If you're unwilling to play your trump card in situations for which it is tailor-made, you don't deserve to have that trump card. Do that kind of thing enough and you don't deserve to be managing. Perhaps there's a reason why Rizzo's not rushing to pick up Riggleman's 2012 option.

  48. Golfersal - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Couple of thoughts after going to opening day and frankly they are negative. Mark, if your reading you should follow up on this.First and the worst decision for the fans, they have taken out Five Guys burgers in the Miller lite walk area behind center field. Sorry but this was the best food at Nationals Park, the lines were 10 times longer than the other food stores in the area. People loved it and it's being replaced by "Shake Shack" Sorry this is not right and I can smell the odor of the Nats weren't happy with the success of an outside vender probably making more than a Nats vender. Guys you blew it, I will be packing my own sandwiches from now on.One of the reasons I am packing, the Hot Dogs have been raised to $6 from $4.50. Granted they are Hebrew National and a better dog than the crap they had last year but $6 for a Hot Dog? Other price increases, Coke went from $5 to $5.75, what a rip off and it's a crappy souvenir cup that nobody will take home. One other outrageous increase, Popcorn, yes a little tub of popcore is now $6. Last year on opening day the same popcore was $4.Another complaint, most of the beer plugs at food stations weren't working. Now Beer is still the same at $8 but because none of them were working you had to buy your beer from the vendor that came to your seat, they are charging $8.50. That's fine with me, if they want to charge 50 cents for the service, I won't give you a dollar tip, screw you.Other than that the Nationals still fielded a crappy opening day team, they have now lost 6 of 7 opening days and again won't celebrate being in first place, even if it's for a day.

  49. LoveDaNats - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Coldest opening day since 2008. But am impressed. Last year the score would have been 8 – 0. Much better defense. Opening day jitters for offense. I'm still optimistic. The feeling of being back at NatsPark was worth everything! Loved it!

  50. rmoore446 - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Wow, Golfersal, you are a regular little miss sunshine. Did you make a check list of all the things you hate so you can compare it next year? I for one was stuck working 200 miles away and sort of envied those who could take off and get to the game.

  51. Mary in Springfield - Apr 1, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    Golfersal (and others), instead of buying ballpark hotdogs, get them from one of the vendors outside the ballpark — the fellow on the corner across from the centerfield gate has great hotdogs, I think $2 or $2.50 each? And large bottles of water for that same price (often partially frozen during hot summer months). My husband & I often get 2 'dogs each from him, plain (though he does have condiments) then use the mustard, onion, etc dispensers inside the ballpark and maybe get a cup of Boardwalk fries to share. The vendor's name is "Ali" and if you become somewhat of a 'regular' he may occasionally give you a discount or a free bottle of water on a hot day. He's not a friend or relative, just a vendor whose business we've enjoyed since the days at RFK.

  52. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    And if you're craving Five Guys, go a couple of blocks over by the Dept of Transportation before the game and get your burgers and fries for half the price they charged in the ballpark.

  53. dryw - Apr 1, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Theophilus,Yes, but I wouldn't be the only loquacious one! My point was that after EVERY play at first, no matter how routine, I heard comments around me about how it's a good thing we didn't have Dunn any more. Of course Dunn didn't hit a homer every time up–but he also didn't miss every play at first. As I recall it, he even made a nice one every now and then.So, Dunn is gone, we wish him well. I would've loved to continue to watch him hit bombs here, but I'll still love watching my Nats play. My only point was that if we're going to move on, we need to move on completely and stop talking about what he would or wouldn't have done in ANY situation.

  54. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    As long as they allow us to bring food in, they can charge whatever they want inside for the food.But the beer prices are outrageous. I was skiing in Vail last month, a place not known for low prices, where the customers are as captive as in the ballpark, and high quality draft beer on the premises was $5.50, versus $8 or $8.50 for Miller Lite, which barely qualifies as beer at all. They'll keep charging it as long as people keep buying it, so bring in bottled water.

  55. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Waaaaa! Waaaaa! They took 5 guys away! Waaaaaaaaaaaa! Just stay home then



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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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