Dateline: Browns Chapel Field
It started out rainy in the morning, but it turned into a picture perfect day for the 2016 Nationals home opener. Before the game we asked Coach Grossman about the team and he said, “Well you never know until you actually play these games, but we have a young team this year – but I like their enthusiasm for the game. The American League has some awfully big kids, so it’ll be fun to see if we can keep up with them. Our team has worked hard in the pre-season and I think we are ready to see where we are.”
Top of the first and with two outs Jake walked and Frankie singled. The starting pitcher for A’s settled down and picked up his third strikeout. Bottom of the first and Jake looked sharp on the mound. The first batter walked and advanced to third on two wild pitches. The next batter popped out to Jake for out one. Jake quickly struck out the next batter. The cleanup hitter walked and stole second. With runners at second and third, Jake struck out the last batter. After one it was 0-0.
Top of the second and the Nats went to work. Anthony led off with a single. Michael walked. DJ singled to score Anthony but Michael was out at third trying to advance to third on the play. CJ singled and Ben walked to load the bases, but the starting pitcher settled down and picked up his 5th strikeout on the day. Bottom of the second and a hit batter and two walks loaded the bases with no outs. The next batter singled to score a run. Jake settled down and struck out two batters and had the leadoff man at a 3-2 count with the bases loaded but walked him to score another run. Shane came on in relief and induced a popup to second for out three. After two the A’s led 2-1.
Top of the third and Khalil led off with a single. Jake grounded into a force at second for out one. The next two batters struck out to end the threat. Shane looked sharp in the third. After a single, the runner advanced to second and third on wild pitches. The next batter grounded out to Jake at short who fired across the diamond to get the runner. The next two batters struck out. After three it was 3-1 A’s.
The Nats came right back in the fourth. Anthony walked and advanced to second and third on wild pitches. Joseph T. picked up a huge RBI with a ground out to first to score the run. Michael was hit by a pitch. The next batter struck out. DJ walked. The runners advanced on a wild pitch. The A’s tried to pick Michael off at third and threw the ball into left field to score Michael. The pitcher settled down and struck out the last batter. Bottom of the fourth and the first batter walked. Shane struck out the next batter. The next batter grounded out to Frankie who made a nice play at first. Two outs and the next two batters walked to load the bases. The leadoff man hit a grounder to Joseph T. who tossed to Jake at short to just get the runner at second. There was quite a bit of confusion on the play as the field umpire called the runner safe and two runs appeared to score on the play, but alas, the home plate ump said the field ump made the wrong call and called the runner out. This reporter has to admit that it sure looked like the runner was safe but it was a close play. After four it was all tied up at 3-3.
Top of the 5th and with two outs Jake walked. The A’s closer settled down and struck out the next batter. Bottom of the 5th and it had been decided that the 5th would be the last inning due to time constraints so the A’s only needed a run. Frankie looked sharp but an infield hit put a runner on first The runner moved to second on a wild pitch and the next batter singled to left to score the run and end the game.
Coach Grossman has very little time for his postgame interview as he had to begin preparations for a rare three game week due to the rainout on Saturday. He said, “Well I think all of the American League teams are going to be very tough, but I was glad our guys hung right in there. Our pitchers threw plenty of strikes. We had seven different players hit the ball today off of some pretty good pitching. Our defense looked great. We certainly have things to work on — baserunning can be improved and our defense still needs a little work, but I think we’ll be fine the rest of the week. Our team is a lot of fun to work with and we have some tremendous assistant coaches.”