Bryce Harper was the talk of the town last season when he became the Washington Nationals starting outfielder at the ripe age of 19. But despite being a teenager, Harper showed he has what it takes to hold his own against the best ball players in the world, and has already become a fan favorite in the Nation’s capital.
Harper picked right up with where he left off last season and blasted back-to-back home runs in his 2013 Opening Day debut, and it was those two home runs that ended up giving Washington the boost they needed to get the season started on the right foot. There is more expectation entering this season than ever before for the Nationals, as the team marched to their first postseason birth since moving from Montreal, and became the first Washington baseball ball team to make a postseason appearance since 1933.
So far, so good for the Nationals as Harper is letting everyone know right off the bat that this team isn’t a fluke. Washington is hoping that their dynamic duo of young and budding superstars in Harper and pitcher Stephen Strasburg can pay off and take them to new heights in 2013. Strasburg was infamously put on an inning limit in 2012 and was shut down before the season ended and wasn’t a part of the team’s postseason roster.
But Strasburg was unshackled today and threw seven innings of shutout baseball on only 80 pitches. New closer Rafael Soriano came in and finished off the game after the Washington bullpen relieved Strasburg after his seven innings of work.
The story on the other side of the diamond isn’t as pretty, as the Miami Marlins are a team in turmoil. Marlins management gutted the team in the offseason to save face on the massive debts their getting into, and the product on the field isn’t drawing in fans to the behemoth of an eye sore that is the Marlins new stadium. Luckily for them, they were on the road to start the season, but it will be interesting to watch where this team goes in 2013.
But for the Nationals, things are looking up, and the lore of Bryce Harper only grew with his epic OPening Day performance. The only question is how long the Nats can keep this going.