162-0 is an impossible dream, and more recently an annoying twitter campaign for every fan after Opening Day. It was, however, nice to keep the dream alive for an extra game this year. The Nationals will have to settle for 161-1 after dropping the final game of their opening series to the Marlins 4-3 in extra innings on Thursday night.
The game dragged — including over two hours worth of rain delays — and evidently got too long even for the umpire, who got a little lazy with his balls and strikes at the end of the game. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the only cause of the absurdly long game. The Nationals’ bullpen had a hand in it as well giving up four runs over the final three innings and allowing a late lead handed to them by home runs from Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman to slip away.
It’s no secret that the bullpen was a question mark heading into the season. Closer by committee is not the official stance, but it seems there’s a bit of a wink and a nod there. After a solid start from Gio Gonzalez, the bullpen couldn’t close the deal.
The good: Gio looked excellent in his season debut. After struggling for the majority of last season it’s good to see him get in an early groove. Adam Eaton continues to impress and if I’m not mistaken will quickly become a favorite with the home crowd. Koda Glover tossed a scoreless inning of relief and looked sharp – watch for restless fans to call for him to replace Blake Trienen because that’s how people are.
The bad: The offense looked a little stagnant (if you can call three solo homers stagnant). It seemed they couldn’t get any rhythm going because of the late start and the weather delays. The bullpen struggled in general but not in a way that should cause any undue concern yet. Unfortunately for that group they will need to be above average most nights to avoid that kind of scrutiny from a fanbase that is still writing sappy poems to Mark Melancon.
The main takeaway for me was Gio’s start. The Nats will go as far as their pitching can take them this year, and having a strong Gonzalez at the back end of the rotation will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the season especially if other starters struggle to remain healthy down the stretch.
The bullpen will figure things out and the fans ought to have enough confidence in the team’s management to believe that the proper pieces will be put in the proper places. These things often take time and that is the one thing, in early April that we have plenty of.Tags: Adam Eaton, Gio Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, Koda Glover, Nationals, Nats, Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals