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Thom Loverro: With Opening Day victory, Nationals just saying a mouthful

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Thom Loverro

Davey Johnson's 1997 Baltimore Orioles were in first place from the first game of the regular season to the finale -- wire to wire.

Just saying.

On Day One of the 2013 baseball season, the Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East.

Just saying.

Stephen Strasburg looked every bit the efficient, mature, smart and powerful pitcher everyone has expected him to be, pitching seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball on the way to a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

He looked every bit the pitcher who won't be shut down this season until his team's last game sometime in October.

Just saying.

Bryce Harper, who finished spring training with a batting average that Ted Williams would have been proud of (.478), hit home runs in his first two at-bats, sending the standing room-only crowd of 45,274 at Nationals Park into a frenzy.

He looked every bit like a player who is a Triple Crown challenger this season.

Just saying.

Shock and awe, baby.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was all smiles as he headed for the clubhouse after the Opening Day win over the Marlins. It would have been hard for him to script a better opening act.

His two superstars took center stage -- Strasburg Unchained, with a masterful performance, throwing just 80 pitches over seven innings, a pitcher at work at his craft.

"Stras was amazing," Johnson said after the game. "He pitched a great game. Outstanding."

Johnson said he likely would have sent Strasburg out to pitch the eighth inning if it wasn't Opening Day.

"Originally I was going to let him go to 90 pitches," Johnson said. "But I think Opening Day, with all the ceremonies and the crowd, takes a little energy out of you."

His 20-year-old man-child, Harper, hit two home runs. If he hadn't already done so after his rookie of the year season, he made his at-bats must-watch events throughout baseball.

Finally, the two biggest newcomers to the team -- center fielder Denard Span and closer Rafael Soriano -- produced as well. After grounding out in his first three at-bats, Span drove a single up the middle, avoiding going hitless in his first game before the hometown fans. And Soriano locked down the win with a perfect ninth inning -- an important showing before Nationals fans who still love the reliever Soriano replaced in the closer role, Drew Storen.

"You couldn't draw it up any better, no question," Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said.

It's Day One of the 2013 season. The Washington Nationals are in first place. Stephen Strasburg is 1-0 and unscored upon. And Bryce Harper has two home runs and is batting .500.

Just saying.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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