The Washington Nationals started their 2013 campaign with a bang on April 1st. Bryce Harper, coming off of National League Rookie honors, provided the power at bat with a back-to-back homers in the 1st and 4th innings. Stephen Strasburg was magnificent through seven shout out innings. With these two players leading the way, the Nat’s have a great one-two combination of excitement that should carry the team to another NL East crown.
After it was all said and done on a clear April fools afternoon, Harper was hearing chants of “MVP-MYP-MVP”, while the Miami Marlins had no answer for Strasburg. At one point, he recorded 19 consecutive outs. That was all the Nats needed to secure a 2-0 win against Miami. Nice way to open the 2013 campaign. Washington couldn’t have scripted it any better.
There will be no innings limitations for Strasburg this season, who made his debut of what should be his first full season in the majors. The All-star ace was medically shut down during the teams’ final stretch run in September and division series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. His dominance over the Marlins should be the start of something special this season for the Nationals. Many predict this team to make it all the way to World Series.
Monday’s game was Harper’s first opening day start, and he did not disappoint. He sent two solo shots over the right-field wall, off of right-hander Ricky Nolasco. After his second homer, he climbed out of the dugout and pumped his fist to a packed house in DC. A regular-season Nationals Park-record crowd of 45,274 gave Harper a standing ovation while at bat in the sixth inning.
Strasburg and Harper are only the second pair of No. 1 overall picks in the Majors’ June amateur draft to start an opening-day game for the team that picked them. The picks are now starting to pay off as Washington went from back to back 100 loss seasons in 2008 and 2009, which ultimately gave them the rights to pick the two young stars, to winning a major league leading 98 games in 2012.
Look for Washington to be a 100 win team and make a strong title run in the playoffs.
By Keith Madyun