Harper starts 2013 off with a bang (more Harper, more Strasburg)

Bryce Harper might just do some things this season.

In his first at-bat of the season, just some 20 minutes after receiving his 2012 National League Rookie of the Year award, Harper crushed a 1-0 pitch from Ricky Nolasco into the right field bleachers.

Two pitches, one home run and a lot more talk about what could be to come from Harper in his age-20 season.

The homer came on a hanging curveball over the inner half, and it left the park in a hurry. It’s 1-0 Nationals.

Harper sprinted around the bases as Nats Park went nuts, then was received by smiles and high fives in the Nationals dugout. He wound up and slapped Davey Johnson’s hand with full force as his manager came up to greet him on the top step of the dugout.

This guy sure has a flair for the dramatic, huh?

Harper is battling a sore left thumb, but you sure wouldn’t know it by how he’s been hitting the ball lately. He went 11-for-11 with a walk and a sacrifice over the final stretch of spring training, prior to making an out in his final two spring at-bats.

Now he crushes a line drive homer to right in his first plate appearance of the regular season.

A decent start, I guess.

Update: This is just unreal.

Harper just homered for a second time, taking a 3-2 Nolasco slider into the right field seats to make it a 2-0 game in the fourth.

Two at-bats into the season, Harper received a curtain call from the Nats Park crowd.

This is the third multi-homer game of Harper’s career, and his second against the Marlins. The first came on Aug. 29 of last year. Harper is also the first Rookie of the Year to homer on opening day the next season since Ryan Howard did it in 2006.

The Nationals have two hits so far today. Both have come from Harper, and both have come down in the seats. Harper is now on pace for 632 home runs.

Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is in a zone. He’s retired 12 straight hitters since allowing a leadoff single to Juan Pierre to begin the game.

The Nats’ two young stars are putting on a show in the opener.

Update II: Harper failed to go yard in his third at-bat of the game. Might as well cut him.

No, hold off on that. Harper reminded us in the seventh inning that he’s a heck of a defensive player, as well. With runners on the corners and one out, Harper caught Rob Brantly’s line drive to left, and fired an absolute strike to the plate, holding Giancarlo Stanton at third.

For some reason, though, Placido Polanco, who had been on first base, tagged up and ran towards second. Catcher Wilson Ramos spotted Polanco and got him trapped in a rundown, resulting in your standard 7-2-3-4-2 double play.

The play was the last with Strasburg on the mound, as Davey Johnson went to the hook after seven innings.

Strasburg threw just 80 pitches (52 for strikes), but Johnson has gone to Tyler Clippard here to begin the eighth. Johnson tends to ease his starters into action at the beginning of the season, and he probably wants to get some of his other guys some work, with a day off tomorrow and the Nats having the last two days off, as well.

Still, it sure looked like Strasburg had plenty left in the tank. His 2013 debut was a stellar one.

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