Ranking the Nationals' previous 11 home openers

After an oh-so-quick, two-game road trip to Atlanta to open the season, the Nationals have returned to D.C. and today will get to celebrate their home opener.

That's weather permitting, of course, and the forecast does not look good for today's scheduled 4:05 p.m. game against the Marlins, with heavy rain predicted pretty much all day. If this one gets postponed, look for it to be made up Friday (major league clubs purposely schedule an off-day following the home opener specifically for this possible scenario).

Whenever it takes place, this will be the 12th home opener in Nationals history. The previous 11 have run the gamut of emotions, from the highs of the 2005 opener at RFK Stadium and the 2008 debut of Nationals Park to the lows of ugly losses to the Phillies in front of tens of thousands of visiting fans. Most of them have been memorable, some of them have been completely forgettable.

Here's a very subjective ranking of all 11 Nationals home openers, from worst to first ...

11. APRIL 5, 2010
Phillies 11, Nats 1
Attendance: 41,290
Recap: For a franchise that has endured through some pretty low moments, this ranks very close to the bottom. On the heels of a 103-loss season, the Nationals had reason for mild optimism in 2010, most notably with Stephen Strasburg set to debut two months later. But opening day was a nightmare. President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch, wearing a Nationals jacket but then pulling a White Sox cap out of his pocket as he stood on the mound. Tens of thousands of Phillies fans who purchased group tickets en masse and road buses down Interstate 95 to see the game packed the ballpark, booing Nats players as they were introduced for the first time. As for the game itself ... well, John Lannan gave up five runs in the top of the fourth, while Roy Halladay tossed seven innings of one-run ball, much to the delight of the, uh, visiting crowd.

10. APRIL 13, 2009
Phillies 9, Nats 8
Attendance: 40,386
Recap: The scene was similar the previous year, with plenty of Philly fans invading Nationals Park, but the visitors played the game with broken hearts. Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame broadcaster best known to the nation as the voice of NFL Films but best known to southeastern Pennsylvanians as the voice of the Phillies, collapsed in the press box a couple of hours before first pitch and died shortly thereafter. The game became secondary at that point, but it was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Phillies pull ahead with four runs off Saul Rivera in the top of the seventh. With the loss, the Nationals fell to 0-7, an awful beginning to an awful season.

9. APRIL 2, 2007
Marlins 9, Nats 2
Attendance: 40,389
Recap: Opening day 2007 had an uplifting backstory, with Manny Acta and Fredi Gonzalez squaring off in the first matchup of Latino managers in major league history. There was nothing uplifting about the game from the Nationals' perspective, though. The Marlins jumped out to a 6-0 lead on John Patterson by the third inning and cruised to victory behind Dontrelle Willis' six strong innings and homers by Miguel Cabrera and Dan Uggla.

8. APRIL 11, 2006
Mets 7, Nats 1
Attendance: 40,530
Recap: This was a completely forgettable ballgame. The Mets scored twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth off Ramon Ortiz and never looked back. The Nationals managed a grand total of three hits off Brian Bannister, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner. One of those three hits was an Alfonso Soriano homer, already his third of the season en route to a club-record 46.

7. APRIL 4, 2014
Braves 2, Nats 1
Attendance: 42,834
Recap: Following a season-opening sweep of the Mets at Citi Field, the Nationals and new manager Matt Williams came home with confidence sky-high. This was a tense game, though, a taut pitchers' duel between Jordan Zimmermann and David Hale. The Braves wound up scoring the winning run via an eighth-inning sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard, but this game would be remembered most for Ian Desmond's overturned inside-the-park homer in the bottom of the fifth. Desmond's hard shot into the left field corner rolled under the padding of the fence, and Atlanta's Justin Upton threw up his hands to suggest the ball was lodged under there. The umpires initially let the play continue, with Desmond racing 360 feet around the bases to a thunderous roar from the crowd, but after Braves manager Gonzalez challenged the ruling, the umps reversed the call and made Desmond go back to second base.

Max Scherzer front white.jpg6. APRIL 6, 2015
Mets 3, Nats 1
Attendance: 42,295
Recap: Last year's opening day featured a matchup of what would develop into a really good rivalry by season's end. At the time, few expected the Mets to beat out the Nationals for the National League East title, but most acknowledged New York's pitching staff was going to be tough. Turns out the old man of that young group (Bartolo Colon) stole the show on opening day. The ageless Colon outdueled Max Scherzer in the latter's Nats debut, though none of the three runs Scherzer allowed were earned. That's because Desmond, in the first game of his contract year, committed two errors, including one on a miscommunication with Dan Uggla on a popup behind second base. On the bright side, Bryce Harper homered to kick off his MVP season in style.

5. MARCH 31, 2011
Braves 2, Nats 0
Attendance: 39,055
Recap: If you believe in the notion of encouraging losses, this qualified as one. The Nationals entered the 2011 season with legitimate optimism. They knew they weren't ready to contend quite yet, but they also knew they were finally on the right track. And this game underscored that. They got a quality start out of Livan Hernandez, then 2 2/3 scoreless innings out of their bullpen. They made several sterling plays in the field. They ran the bases well. They simply couldn't take advantage of the few opportunities they had to score a run off veteran starter Derek Lowe and the Braves bullpen. A lack of offense would become a recurring theme throughout the 2011 season, but it did ultimately prove to be an encouraging year and set the stage for the franchise's breakthrough 2012 campaign.

4. APRIL 12, 2012
Nats 3, Reds 2 (10 innings)
Attendance: 40,907
Recap: After a successful 4-2 road trip through Chicago and New York to begin the season, Davey Johnson and the Nationals began to capture the D.C. fan base's attention with a dramatic victory in their home opener. Adam LaRoche's two-run single in the fifth gave them a 2-0 lead they would hold until the ninth, thanks to Gio Gonzalez's two-hit, no-walk start against a good Reds lineup. Dusty Baker's club, though, rallied to tie the game in the ninth, capped by Ryan Ludwick's two-run single off Brad Lidge. No worries, because the Nats managed win it in the 10th when Alfredo Simon plunked Ryan Zimmerman, then later let him score the walk-off run on a wild pitch.

3. APRIL 1, 2013
Nats 2, Marlins 0
Attendance: 45,274
Recap: If you could have drawn up a storyline to opening day 2013 for the Nationals, this is exactly what you would have drawn up. Fresh off their first division title the year before, Johnson proclaimed the goal for 2013 was "World Series or bust." That looked very much in reach on opening day, when the Nats' two biggest stars shone brightest. Harper homered not once, but twice, off Ricky Nolasco, briefly leaving the 20-year-old a perfect 2-for-2 with two homers and a 5.000 OPS on the (extremely young) season. Strasburg, in his first appearance since the previous September's controversial shutdown, put only three Marlins on base in seven dominant innings. Clippard and Rafael Soriano finished off the shutout, and at that moment anything seemed possible for this team. Little could anyone have realized at the time things wouldn't exactly work out to perfection.

Ryan Zimmerman walk-off inaugural Nats Park.png2. MARCH 30, 2008
Nats 3, Braves 2
Attendance: 39,389
Recap: The first game played at the sparkling new Nationals Park featured an all-time ending. A sellout crowd including President George W. Bush (who threw out the first pitch) and a national TV audience watched as the Nationals carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth. But then Jon Rauch, subbing as emergency closer after Chad Cordero felt shoulder pain during pregame warmups, let the tying run score via a passed ball called on Paul Lo Duca with two outs in the ninth. The shell-shocked crowd didn't have to stew for long, though, because Zimmerman stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and proceeded to belt Peter Moylan's pitch into the Red Porch seats beyond the center field fence. As the young "Face of the Franchise" pumped his fist rounding first base, the crowd roared with delight having witnessed the perfect ending for such an occasion.

1. APRIL 14, 2005
Nats 5, Diamondbacks 3
Attendance: 45,596
Recap: This was the night grown men and women openly cried, witnessing an event many thought they'd never see again: a major league baseball team playing a home game in Washington. There was so much emotion at RFK Stadium that evening. Nine members of the 1971 Senators took their old positions in the field, then handed over their gloves to the nine members of the 2005 Nationals who started the game. President Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch, using the same ball that was in play when the Senators' final game 34 years earlier was called due to forfeit. And then the game itself was a raucous event, with Vinny Castilla coming a single shy of hitting for the cycle (prompting fans to make the old, hollow stands at RFK bounce up and down like hadn't done in decades) and Hernandez carrying a one-hitter (yes, a one-hitter) into the ninth inning. Cordero wound up recording the final two outs, setting off fireworks and a roar from the packed crowd which would have been thrilled enough merely to see the Nationals' first home game, but now found itself rooting for their first-place ballclub.

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