CINCINNATI -- When Nationals manager Dave Martinez entered his office in the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after Friday's game, he had no idea what his players had planned for him -- a beer shower that drenched him and his office in celebration of his first victory as
CINCINNATI -- When Nationals manager Dave Martinez entered his office in the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park after Friday's game, he had no idea what his players had planned for him -- a beer shower that drenched him and his office in celebration of his first victory as Nationals manager, a 2-0 shutout over the Reds on Opening Day.
The idea was hatched by right-hander Brandon Kintzler, and it was one that left Martinez in need of another shower to clean off after the unexpected one.
"It took me by surprise," Martinez said still wiping his eyes postgame. "But, hey, what a game. ... It was a lot of fun."
Washington begins this season as the favorite to win the National League East, and as a team with aspirations to win the World Series. Martinez has encouraged this club to embrace those expectations, but to first focus on the present day. The Nats responded with a crisp season opener that showed off why they have such lofty expectations this season.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out 10 in six brilliant innings, which tied a Nationals record for most strikeouts on Opening Day (Stephen Strasburg -- 2014) and included a streak of seven consecutive strikeouts from the second and into the fourth inning.
Scherzer then put the game in the hands of the bullpen trio of Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, who each turned in scoreless innings of their own in the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, to seal the victory. The Nationals' offense did not give them much room to work with, but Adam Eaton scored a run in the first inning after Bryce Harper broke up a double play with a slide into second, and Michael A. Taylor created a run after a bunt single in the ninth.
"It was a little bit like a baptism by fire: Get in there, this is how it's going to be all year," Doolittle said. "This is how we drew it up. And for it to work perfectly the first game, where you don't have any room for error in a [close] game on the road, I think that's really big for us moving forward and having that one under our belt."
It was also the first win under Martinez's belt for what the Nationals hope is a long career as manager. Prior to his first game, Martinez said he did not feel nervous, as he did before Opening Day as a player, but rather excited. Martinez knew his team had been itching to get the season started, and he was proud of the way they did so on Friday.
"He's probably waited a long time to be a manager in the big leagues and to have that," Eaton said. "I think he really enjoyed it, and I think all our guys enjoyed it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Starting off right: Playing in his first game in roughly 11 months after a torn ACL, Eaton began the game with a single off Reds starter Homer Bailey. With one out, and two on, Ryan Zimmerman grounded to third base for a potential inning-ending double play, but Harper made a good slide into second baseman Scooter Gennett that forced a throw in the dirt as Eaton scored.
"Really proud of Harper going to second base and getting a bad throw," Martinez said. "That's key. That started off right there. The guys were excited about it." More >
Taylor creates havoc: Before Taylor came up to bat to begin the ninth inning, Martinez insisted he only offered a suggestion to Taylor that it would not be a bad time for a bunt. He credited Taylor for the execution, a perfect bunt down the third-base line for an infield single. Taylor then promptly stole second, reached third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly from Brian Goodwin.
"We're going to play aggressive," Martinez said. "I said that from the beginning."
"I really try not to give pitchers credit, but today I have to just tip my cap to him. I just feel he puts the ball where he wants it. We kind of had him on the ropes and he just got out of it, fairly easily. I guess he just executes his pitches. I'm looking forward to facing him again. As a rookie, as anybody, those are the matchups you look for -- Max Scherzer, the aces of anybody's staff. Hopefully I can build a better of a book, results-wise, against him next time." -- Reds left fielder Jesse Winker, on facing Scherzer
"I knew I was getting some swings and misses, but I also knew [Joey Votto] was going to come up aggressive, that you've got to execute a pitch right now. Really, it was just a product of working ahead in the count and throwing the right pitch with two strikes" -- Scherzer, on striking out seven in a row
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the second time Scherzer has struck out seven consecutive batters in a game. The other came during his no-hitter against the Mets in October 2015, when he struck out nine in a row at one point. The MLB record is 10 straight by the Mets' Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970.
Strasburg makes his 2018 debut -- against the Reds on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET -- coming off one of the healthiest seasons of his career that earned him a third-place finish in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award. The last time he took the mound in a meaningful game was his masterful performance in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs.
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Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.