THE RESULT: Nationals opening day starter John Lannan was rocked for six earned runs in three innings, including two homers, and former Nat Emilio Bonifacio ran rampant, going 4-for-5 with four runs, three steals and an inside-the-park home run (first on opening day since 1968) as the Florida Marlins cruised to a 12-6 victory before 34,000-plus at Dolphin Stadium.

THE TAKEAWAY: The coincidence of Bonifacio looking like the second coming of Lou Brock today notwithstanding, today certainly illustrated many of the Nats obvious faults right from the get-go. This will be one of the league's worst fielding teams, though the traditional stats might say otherwise, since you have to get your glove on the ball in the first place to get awarded an error.

And the bullpen has a chance to be even worse than last year's mess. Ledezma keeps getting chances, but he's never prospered. Tavarez is rubber-armed and willing, but there's not much left in his tank. And the idea that this team is sending better players to the minors because of options is a little silly. Mock and Bergy will be back soon.

All in all, a disappointment on opening day, especially if you came into it with delusions of grandeur. But it is just one day, however magnified it is. If (when) this happens in the middle of July, it's just another day. This team will have its share too. There's enough pop (when the right line-up is on the field) to scare some people. This season is all about looking for the bright spots.

THE GOOD: Adam Dunn. As advertised, Dunn hit a mammoth home run, scored twice, drove in four, struck out and misplayed a fairly routine fly ball into a two-run double.

THE BAD: Lastings Milledge. The newly-appointed lead-off hitter went 0-for-4, struck out twice and swung at the first pitch of the game. Also misplayed a fly ball that turned into Bonifacio's home run.

THE UGLY: Plenty of candidates. Julian Tavarez, Wil Ledezma and Steven Shell offered no relief today. Lannan was hammered (not the good kind of hammered). Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with two Ks. Josh Bard pinch-hit while Willingham and Dukes sat on the bench.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:10 pm. Scott Olsen (8-11, 4.20 in 201.2 IP in 2008) takes on Josh Johnson (7-1, 3.61 in 87.1 IP) and the rest of his former mates in game two of 2009.

7 comments

  1. Wil Nieves // April 6, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

    I think that unfortunately this post should include an Emilio! tag. Or does one lose the ! after leaving the Nats?

    Love the return of TGTBTU!

  2. Anonymous // April 7, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

    Also misplayed a fly ball that turned into Bonifacio's home run.

    Really? I heard the play on the radio, and Charlie and Dave made no comment about him misplaying the ball. All they said was that he was playing way in on Bonifacio - and although they didn't say it we all know that defensive positioning is dictated by the coaches on a play-by-play basis. I later saw the replay on TV, but they didn't pick up Milledge until he was in full chase after the ball so it was hard to tell if he broke the wrong way off the bat. But playing so far in, somehow I would doubt that he did. As it was, I think he would have had to make a Willie Mays basket catch to get that one. Milledge isn't perfect, but on this play I'd have to say the blame goes to the coaches and Bonifacio himself. They did not think he could hit it that far, and he surprised them. Maybe the wind helped too.

  3. Anonymous // April 7, 2009 at 8:07 AM  

    "Josh Bard pinch-hit while Willingham and Dukes sat on the bench."

    Dukes pinch hit late in the game, and looked pretty bad in striking out.

  4. Dave Nichols // April 7, 2009 at 10:27 AM  

    thanks Wil. you're right, it should have the Emilio! tag on it.

    anon(s), thanks for the comments. watching the replay it appeared to me Milledge froze at the begining of the play. he might now have been able to catch up with the hit regardless, but that's how i saw it.

    as for the pinch-hitting, bard pinch hit in the 5th when the game was still in doubt. Dukes was sent up with one out in the 9th with the score 12-5. i'll stand by my critique that we should have seen Dukes or Willingham ealier in the game instead of Bard.

  5. Anonymous // April 7, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

    And I'll stand by my critique that Dukes looked pretty damn bad at the plate when he did get up. Smiling to start off the AB, but God that was an ugly swing at a bad pitch to end it.

  6. Cheryl Nichols // April 7, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

    Reminder that there were 11 games yesterday and Nats were one of ten other teams that posted their first loss of the season. Here is the good news....Cleveland and Detroit both lost by more runs than the Nats!

    Everyone needs to pace themselves - it is a long season and this was just one game. We are not going to win 162 games so there will be lots of losses. Every team will have lots of losses. We can't freak out over each one. Hopefully we'll learn from each loss and make improvements and move on.

    I'm not going to give up on my beloved Nats. Michael J. Fox isn't the only incurable optimist!!

  7. Cheryl Nichols // April 7, 2009 at 12:20 PM  

    And for those still upset that we didn't get Tex, this might make you feel better. Tex went 0-4 with a walk yesterday while Dunn went 2-4 with 4 RBIs and 1 homerun! Sweet.