I don’t think anything particularly earth-shattering came out of yesterday’s opening day 2-0 loss to the Braves at Nationals Park.
We’ve seen Livan Hernandez throw similar games many times. I doubt you need any additional proof that a pitcher need not throw very hard to get the other side out consistently. When you can change speeds as much as 20 mph from pitch to pitch, you’re confirming the old adage that the art of pitching is keeping the hitter off balance.
Derek Lowe’s velocity isn’t what it used to be, but he’s got no shortage of smarts. Keep the ball down in the zone and the hitter will have real issues squaring it up. A vintage outing.
One thing, though, was obvious: Even on a very chilly - low 40s - damp and misty day, these Nationals looked much better in the field. Adam LaRoche made the plays at first, Danny Espinosa flashed some serious leather at second and Jayson Werth didn’t mind hitting the turf in right. Improving the defensive end of things was an offseason priority, and first glance indicates they took it seriously.
The players insisted that the weather was no factor, and I’ll take their word for it, though a pitcher not wearing sleeves when it’s that chilly still seems a little silly, just as it does in the NFL in outdoor games played in late December and early January. Some of those guys might as well be saying, “Well, I paid for these tattoos, so I’m making sure everyone gets a good look at them.”
One other thing: I had a splendid time chatting with the folks at NatsFest on Wednesday. It was nice to bring some stuff out of my collection that hasn’t been seen by that many people in decades. The response from those fans who weren’t alive when Washington had Major League Baseball prior to the current Nats was particularly heartening. I hope the opportunity presents itself again in that type of setting. I collected all that stuff to be seen, not to simply be locked away.