The Opening Day game is filled with excitement and new opportunities for the season ahead, highlighted by fanfare and even first pitches thrown by U.S. Presidents. Whether at home or on the road, the Nationals have had memorable moments from the first game of the year.
1. March 30, 2008 vs. Braves
The gates of Nationals Park opened to commence the 2008 season in a nationally televised matchup against the Braves. The evening began with President George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to manager Manny Acta. Nine innings later, Ryan Zimmerman belted a walk-off solo home run against Peter Moylan to clinch the first "W" at Nats Park, 3-2. It was also the first Opening Day victory in Washington Nationals history.
2. April 1, 2013 vs. Marlins
Speaking of home runs, Bryce Harper smashed a pair in the Nats’ 2-0 win over the Marlins on Opening Day 2013. He put Washington on the board in the first with a line drive off Ricky Nolasco, and he sent another Nolasco pitch out of Nats Park in the fourth. At 20 years old, Harper became the youngest player to hit two homers on Opening Day.
3. March 31, 2014 at Mets
There was no shortness of excitement in the Nationals’ 2014 Opening Day showdown at Citi Field. Tied at five apiece after nine innings, Ian Desmond put Washington ahead by driving in Jayson Werth with a sacrifice fly against Jeurys Familia. Then Anthony Rendon gave the Nationals the insurance they needed by smacking a three-run homer off former Nats pitcher John Lannan for a 9-5 lead. That shot was enough to fend off the Mets’ comeback attempt in the bottom of the 10th when David Wright hit a two-run home run against Jerry Blevins. The Nats won, 9-7.
4. April 5, 2012 at Cubs
For seven innings, the Nationals trailed the Cubs, 1-0, on Opening Day 2012. There still was enough time to turn the game around at Wrigley Field. Jayson Werth plated Ian Desmond with a bases-loaded, game-tying walk against Kerry Wood in the eighth. In the following frame, Desmond hit a two-out single off Carlos Marmol and drove in Brett Carroll for the go-ahead run, 2-1.
5. April 4, 2016 at Braves
Following his 2008 heroics, Ryan Zimmerman had another memorable Opening Day moment against Atlanta in ‘16. The game at Turner Field entered extra innings locked in a 3-3 tie. In the 10th, Zimmerman reached second base on a throwing error, and Daniel Murphy doubled off Eric O’Flaherty to drive home Zimmerman for the 4-3 go-ahead run. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save.