Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Dan Haren leads the Nats into Disney's Wide World of Sports tonight.
Haren will be facing many, though not all, of the Braves' regulars. He'll have his full Nats starting lineup behind him, though, as Davey Johnson continues to crack the whip and puts his regulars out there for the second straight day. Look for Wilson Ramos to catch the full nine innings, the first time he's done that since he tore his ACL last May, the last real milestone for Ramos to cross in his return.
Tim Hudson, named Atlanta's Opening Day starter by manager Fredi Gonzalez, gets the nod tonight. And you're in luck, because the game will be televised on MLB Network (picking up the Braves' broadcast). Be sure to check back here for updates and analysis, of course...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Disney's Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
Gametime: 6:05 p.m. EST
TV: MLB Network (Braves' broadcast)
Radio: Braves radio via MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Mostly sunny, 68 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Dan Haren
SS Andrelton Simmons
CF Reed Johnson
RF Jason Heyward
LF Justin Upton
3B Juan Francisco
1B Chris Johnson
2B Tyler Pastornicky
C Matt Pagnozzi
RHP Tim Hudson
5:55 p.m. -- Before we get started, the Nats have announced Opening Day festivities. Barack Obama won't be attending, but Teddy Roosevelt's great-great-grandson will announce "Play ball!", so there's there. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by former Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha, who received the Medal of Honor for some truly heroic acts in Afghanistan.
6:08 p.m. -- And we're underway with a ball low from Tim Hudson to Denard Span. It's "Pirate and Princess Day" here at Disney. If you'll excuse me, I need to go track down Rafael Soriano's dentist and see if I can get root canal.
6:12 p.m. -- And Hudson sets the Nats down in order in the top of the first. He struck out Span on a sinker that may or may not have caught the inside corner of the plate. He then got Jayson Werth to foul out and Bryce Harper to ground out. Lot of Nats fans here tonight. Fairly impressive for a road game.
6:20 p.m. -- Looks like Dan Haren is back to normal. He consistently threw 89 mph in the bottom of the first and topped out at 90, so looks like the dead arm is no more. He also ended the inning with a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, with Wilson Ramos firing off a nice throw to third to nail Andrelton Simmons. Scoreless after one.
6:29 p.m. -- Well, that was quite an eventful top of the second for Adam LaRoche. He was greeted by old pal Hudson with a 47 mph eephus pitch and had to step out of the box to stop himself from laughing. Awesome stuff. LaRoche then drove the next pitch (at normal speed) into right field for a single. He took second on a wild pitch, then took off for third on Danny Espinosa's base hit to right. But then Trent Jewett inexplicably waved him around and LaRoche was thrown out by Jason Heyward by a good 20 feet. Bizarre send there by Jewett. After all that, it's still scoreless.
6:43 p.m. -- The second inning wasn't nearly so kind to Haren. He was roughed up for three runs on four hits and a walk. No problem with his velocity, which was even better than last inning (he reached 91 mph a couple of times). The Braves just hit Haren hard. It's 3-0 as we move to the third.
6:56 p.m. -- Better stuff from Haren in the bottom of the third. He retired the side on 14 pitches and struck out both Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. In fact, he's got five strikeouts in the game already. Nats still trail 3-0 after three.
7:10 p.m. -- Make it seven in a row retired by Haren, three via strikeouts. He's bounced back nicely from that ragged second inning. He's at 70 pitches (46 strikes) overall, so he's probably got one more inning in him. Hudson, meanwhile, is taking the mound for the top of the fifth, having yet to allow a run to the Nats.
7:21 p.m. -- Haren continues to cruise, retiring the side on eight pitches in the fifth, resulting in three groundouts. He's at 78 pitches, so perhaps Davey will let him go another inning. Davey wouldn't mind a little offense out of his everyday lineup, either. Still 3-0 as we go to the sixth.
7:29 p.m. -- Nothin' doin' in the sixth for the Nats. Hudson is doing what he usually does to these guys: Mow 'em down.
7:44 p.m. -- On "Pirate and Princess Night" here at Disney, it's of course appropriate that Capt. Hook made an appearance. Davey came out to take the ball from Haren, who served up a gargantuan homer to Upton and then a couple of singles before reaching the 90-pitch limit. So Craig Stammen entered and got out of the inning. It's now 4-0 Braves moving to the seventh. Roger Bernadina, by the way, is making his Nats season debut, now in center field.
8:21 p.m. -- OK, we've reached the top of the ninth here, the Nats having scored three times in the seventh to cut the deficit to 4-3. Just got back from the clubhouse, where Dan Haren said he felt "1,000 times better" tonight than last time. Adam LaRoche also said he called for Tim Hudson to throw him a knuckleball in the first inning. Apparently Hudson makes a tradition out of doing something funny with LaRoche every time they face in spring training. Said LaRoche: "That was great."
8:25 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. The Nats lose this one, 4-3.