Washington Nationals fans set sights on October after Opening Day win

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Local,DC,People,Matt Connolly

A red sea of optimistic fans poured into Nationals Park on Monday for Opening Day in what baseball experts and fans alike think could be a special season.

The result, a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins, did little to temper their expectations.

"I don't want to say we're going to the World Series -- that just jinxes things," said D.C. resident Jen Karr, who has had season tickets since the team arrived in Washington in 2005. "It's great to see everybody getting on board."

The game's official attendance was 45,274, a regular season record for Nationals Park. The stadium's overall record of 45,966 was set in the team's playoff exit last October.

"I was at Game 5," said Jamie Lawrence, shaking his head. "The thing about baseball is there's always a new season."

A sellout crowd, however, meant there wasn't quite enough space to go around. Over the sound of fireworks from inside the stadium and scalpers outside hawking tickets for hundreds of dollars, Arlington resident Dennis Lopez and his family tried to figure out a way in.

"I was expecting to get here two hours ago," he said. "If we can't get in, it'll have to be [Nats radio announcer] Charlie Slowes."

Even the lack of tickets wasn't enough to keep Lopez's spirits down, though. "World Series or bust," he said. "Ryan Zimmerman's gonna be MVP."

Those who were able to secure seats were treated to a pair of solo shots from 20-year-old wunderkind outfielder Bryce Harper. Chants of Harper's name rang out from the park gates to the Navy Yard Metro station after the game had ended.

"The first one was awesome, then the second one was pretty much pure joy," said Josh Fanaroff, of College Park. "I was hoping for three. I got greedy."

Frederick resident Meg Dionne said Harper's performance, along with Stephen Strasburg's seven shutout innings, were good omens for the rest of the year.

"It was just fabulous," she said. "Watching Harper hit those two home runs was a great start to this season."

Fans also got to see William Howard Taft's first Presidents' Race after being unveiled by the Nats in January. The pressure may have gotten to the portly president, who ended the race in fisticuffs with lovable loser Teddy Roosevelt.

"I'm still not sure how I feel about Taft," Karr said. "You gotta give the guy some time."

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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Matt Connolly

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner