After Ian Desmond led off the game with a hit on the very first pitch of the baseball season for the Nationals, we all got a glimpse of the type of baseball the Nats will have to play all season: not a lot of offense combined with incredible pitching. It’s a stressful and tense way to watch baseball, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.
First, the incredible pitching. Stephen Strasburg came out and did everything that anyone could expect of him. He threw just 14 pitches the first two innings and finished the day on 82 pitches in 7 innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits. He walked just one and struck out five. Tyler Clippard did exactly what we’ve come to expect from him: throw strikes and get outs. He allowed nothing on 14 pitches in the 8th inning.
The Nationals offense decided to wake up in the 8th inning, and the player of the game proved to be Ian Desmond. If you take Desmond out of the equation, Nats starters didn’t record a single hit. The only other player in the lineup to get a hit was Chad Tracy’s blast off the right field wall in the 9th inning. Without Ian Desmond, the Nationals wouldn’t have had a chance. Jayson Werth walked in the 8th with the bases loaded to score a run, and Desmond singled to right in the 9th to score Brett Carroll, which turned out to be the game winner.
Brad Lidge showed what he’s capable of in the 9th inning, and why he’ll probably earn most of the save opportunities until Drew Storen returns from the DL. With his devastating slider and fastball, he was able to record the first save of the 2012 season, but not without some drama. Lidge did allow a triple to Ian Steward with just one out in the 9th with the Nationals up 2-1. On a well timed ground ball to third, though, Ryan Zimmerman threw out pinch runner Joe Mather at home to keep a blown save off of Lidge’s stat sheet.
After this 2-1 win, expect more of the same for the Nationals for a while as they work on their offense throughout the season. Their starting pitching will keep them in games, but the team’s lack of offense is going to create lots of moments like you saw throughout the opening game of the 2012 season. Watching winning baseball can sometimes be stressful, and the Nats will rarely give their fans the opportunity to see a blowout. Being able to hang on every pitch as if it were life and death for the team will be a different experience for Nats fans, because at the end of all the heartache throughout the season, their could be a light at the end of the tunnel. And that could make all the heartache worthwile.