By STEPHEN RECHTER
It was a tough opening day for the Nationals. They lost 3-1 to the Mets as they embarked on what many believe to be a promising 2015 season. The newly signed $200 million man, Max Scherzer, got the start against the 41-year-old, 285-pound Bartolo Colon. Colon shut down the Nationals’ offense, an ongoing concern for the pitching-oriented team that scattered just three hits throughout the game. Despite the outcome, there were still a number of positives for Nats fans to take away from this game.
First off, of course, was the stellar debut of Max Scherzer, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. If it were not for the fielding errors by shortstop Ian Desmond in that inning, it is entirely possible that Scherzer could have kept the no-hit train rolling. After recording two outs, Scherzer walked a batter in the sixth, followed by a high infield popup that looked like an easy play for second basemen Dan Uggla. For some reason, Desmond called him off at the last second, resulting in the ball dropping between both players. This set up runners on second and third with two outs. Lucas Duda would then single, the first hit allowed by Scherzer, to give the Mets a 2-1 lead that they would never surrender.
Desmond would make another error in the seventh inning: a throwing error that also led to a run. Scherzer would pitch into the eighth inning, throwing 97 pitches before consecutive soft singles knocked him out of the game. His final line was 7.2 innings pitched, four hits, two walks, eight strikeouts and no earned runs due to the errors. That is a fine debut for any pitcher, but it’s unfortunate that errors came in to play.
The heavy Colon was highly impressive for the Mets as well. He struck out eight batters over six innings of work, allowing just three hits and a single walk. It hurts a bit when this sort of pitcher beats out a $200 million investment, but it happens from time to time. The worry is that the Nationals’ offense may not be capable of properly supporting their stellar pitching staff throughout the season, and this game only raised further questions there.
The only offensive output for the Nats was still a much-welcomed sign, as Bryce Harper launched a long homer into right field in the fourth inning. He seems to relish opening day, as it is the third opening day homer of his career. He ended his day 2-4, also collecting a single in the sixth. The rest of the Nationals went 1-27. That is a bit of a scary sign of things to come, especially against a pitcher like Colon. Regardless, with positive debuts from two of the Nationals’ biggest players in Scherzer and Harper, things do not look all that bad.
The Nats will face off against the Mets again on Thursday. After Jordan Zimmerman got the start against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom on Wednesday, the Thursday game should be a fun one, as Stephen Strasburg will face off against the powerful Matt Harvey, who has finally made his way back from Tommy John Surgery.