Well, It didn't take long for the optimism of Opening Day to burst.
Former training partners and good friends Josh Johnson and new Nat Scott Olsen squared off tonight for the second game of the season. Josh Johnson won the duel. The Nationals fell for the second time to the Marlins, 8-3.
Olsen struggled with control, allowing 8 hits in 3 innings pitched with 8 earned runs. For a second night in a row, a young, revamped Florida line up showed the Nationals just how powerful they aim to be this year.
Olsen came out flat and unimpressive, with ‘highlights' including a four pitch walk to the opposing pitcher, and a "curve ball" that Cantu lifted 400 ft. into deep left field.Offensively, the former National Emilio Bonifacio continued to thwart his previous team. Going two for five, Bonifacio continued to haunt his former team with almost another inside the park home run.
Not all was as woe-filled as we are painting it. The Nationals bullpen sured-up what could have been another long, painful day for Nats pitching. Julian Tavarez came in and provided 3 spotless innings, saving the bullpen after yesterdays use, and facing a noon game tomorrow. Following Tavarez, the freshly acquired Joe Beimel pitched his first inning in a Nationals uniform, a refreshing sight to the Lerner wallets and Nats fans hearts. Hanrahan got his work in as well, showing much promise in a still erratic arm.
At the plate the Nationals showed both equal promise as fear. Milledge and Zimmerman both continued their hitless stretch, where as Guzman, Johnson and Flores continued a nice little start. The Nationals actually out hit the Marlins 11 to 9, but stranded 18 and failed to drive in runs in several opportunities. Kearns did provide one bright spot to the game, however. In the 8th inning, Kearns showed a glimpse of the power he has been projected to have for years and blasted a 2 run home run in to the upper deck of Dolphin Stadium. A rally in the ninth would also provide a run off of an RBI Guzman double.
Despite the late production, The Nationals showed what this year could be. The line up has shown that it will hit, and runs will be scored. It is a question of how many runs will be needed. Last year that number was 1-3 on most days. This year it looks to be much, much higher.