WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins opened the 2013 season Monday full of hope, but that hope was dashed by the bottom of the first inning when starter Ricky Nolasco gave up a home run to Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper.
The 20-year-old Harper became the youngest player in 93 years to hit two home runs on Opening Day, which was more than enough run support for Nationals ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg as the Nationals knocked out the Marlins 2-0.
At one point in the game, Strasburg mowed down 19 consecutive batters as he picked up his first win of the season. Strasburg’s first start was the beginning of a season where he will not be limited in the number of innings he can pitch.
Harper and Strasburg are only the second pair of No. 1 overall picks in baseball’s June amateur draft to start an opening-day game for the team that chose them, and the 100-loss seasons in 2008 and 2009 that gave Washington the right to those selections seem quite distant nowadays.
Before the game, the Nationals celebrated their 98-win 2012 by unveiling a sign atop the outfield scoreboard that proclaims them “NL East Division Champions.” They also honored Harper for his rookie honor, Johnson for his NL Manager of the Year award, and recipients of Gold Glove and Silver Slugger trophies.
A regular-season Nationals Park-record crowd of 45,274 roared during player introductions and kept on clapping and yelling through the game. They gave Harper a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate in the sixth inning for his third at-bat against Nolasco (0-1). Ever unpredictable, Harper squared up to bunt, taking a ball, and wound up with a flyout to left.
Nolasco gave up two runs and three hits in six innings, with five strikeouts and two walks. While Nolasco’s performance was solid; it was nowhere near enough for a team that struggled to get a hit Monday.
The series will take Tuesday off before starting up again on Wednesday with Kevin Slowey taking the mound against Gio Gonzalez. Slowey has a career ERA of 4.66.
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