Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Nationals News

Box score of the day: Mr. Walk-Off's epic blast

@HarriganMLB
March 30, 2020

Although the Expos/Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington D.C. in 2005, it wasn't until three years later that the team moved into its new ballpark. For their first three seasons in the nation's capital, the Nationals played at RFK Stadium, a multi-purpose venue that has been in use since

Although the Expos/Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington D.C. in 2005, it wasn't until three years later that the team moved into its new ballpark.

For their first three seasons in the nation's capital, the Nationals played at RFK Stadium, a multi-purpose venue that has been in use since 1961.

The 2008 season was a forgettable one for the Nationals, who went 59-102 and finished 32.5 games out of first place. But on this date 12 years ago, the club opened Nationals Park in style, with a 3-2 win over the Braves on a walk-off homer by Ryan Zimmerman (Who else?).

As we await baseball's return, let's look back at Opening Day 2008 for today's box score of the day.

Player of the game: Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals

The man who has come to be known as "Mr. National" and "Mr. Walk-off" wasn't going to let his opportunity to christen the Nationals' new home pass him by.

After Atlanta tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the ninth, Braves reliever Peter Moylan retired Washington's first two hitters in the bottom of the frame, bringing Zimmerman to the plate. The third baseman slugged the second pitch he saw to center field for a home run, giving Nationals Park a proper welcome with the first homer in its history.

Zimmerman, the team's first Draft pick after moving to Washington, has more walk-off home runs (eight) at Nationals Park than any other player, one of many team records he holds.

Remember him? Nick Johnson, 1B, Nationals

Selected in the third round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Yankees, Johnson was a top 20 prospect in Baseball America's overall rankings every year from '99-2002, but he was rarely healthy for a full season in his big league career. The Yanks dealt the first baseman to the Expos in December 2003 along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate for Javier Vazquez, and he was still with the franchise in '08, its fourth season in Washington D.C.

March 30, 2008, marked Johnson's first game in more than a year, as he missed all of '07 while recovering from a fractured right femur. His first-inning double scored Cristian Guzman for the first run in Nationals Park history.

Johnson would play just 38 games in 2008, as he suffered a wrist injury in May that sidelined him for the rest of the year. His final season came in 2012 with the Orioles, and he finished his career with a lifetime .268/.399/.441 batting line over 832 games.

He wore THAT uniform? Mark Teixeira, 1B, Braves

Teixeira is best known for his time with the Yankees and Rangers, but he also played for the Braves and Angels. The first baseman joined Atlanta on July 31, 2007, as Texas traded him and reliever Ron Mahay for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Teixeira was an excellent addition for the Braves in 2007, hitting .317/.404/.615 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs in 54 games, but it wasn't enough to get the club to the postseason.

In this game, Teixeira delivered a one-out double to set up the tying run in the top of the ninth inning. He continued to excel for Atlanta over the course of 2008, posting a .283/.390/.512 slash line with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs in 103 games. But with the switch-hitter headed for free agency after the season and the Braves playing sub-.500 baseball, the club sent him to the Halos on July 29 for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek. Teixeira then signed an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees in January 2009.

Before he was big: Martín Prado, IF, Braves

Prado pinch-ran for Teixeira in the ninth inning, moved to third on a groundout and came around to score the tying run on a passed ball. It marked just the 53rd game of the infielder's career, though he debuted in 2006.

Prado became a regular for the Braves in 2009, and he made the All-Star team and finished ninth in the National League MVP voting the following year, when he hit .307/.350/.459 with 15 homers over 651 plate appearances.

In January 2013, the Braves sent Prado, Nick Ahmed, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill to the D-backs in a trade for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. Prado spent time with the Yankees in 2014 and was a member of the Marlins from 2015-19.

Last call: Paul Lo Duca, Nationals

Lo Duca made the NL All-Star team in four straight seasons from 2003-06, with three different teams (Dodgers, Marlins, Mets). But 2007 saw the catcher record a .689 OPS over 119 games for New York, and that winter he signed with the Nationals.

Although Lo Duca started for the Nats on Opening Day, he played just 46 games for Washington before being released in July. He was later picked up by the Marlins and played 21 more games before calling it a career.

Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HarriganMLB.