Inside Pitch: Opening Day A Bust

Well, at least Vice President Dick Cheney didn't misfire on the first pitch - much. The Nationals home opener lacked the excitement of last year's home opener and the team didn't turn things around, losing to the Mets 7-1.

One year later, the hoopla surrounding the Nationals' home opener was nowhere to be found. So was the club's impressive play on the field.

Washington dropped its second-season home opener to the Mets on Tuesday, a lifeless 7-1 game that didn't elicit much reaction from a tame RFK Stadium crowd of 40,530 (well below capacity).

"They didn't have anything to get rowdy about," manager Frank Robinson said.

Robinson was spot-on correct. His Nationals managed a total of three hits against Mets rookie Brian Bannister and two relievers. The pitching performance wasn't much better, with starter Ramon Ortiz giving up four runs and then the bullpen helping New York pad the lead.

The environment inside the ballpark wasn't nearly as exciting as it was a year ago, when President Bush threw out the first pitch to the roar from the sellout crowd. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney was booed as he bounced his first pitch to the plate, with many among the smaller crowd still not even in their seats.

REPLAY:
Washington's offensive woes continued in Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. A club that struggled all spring to produce runs has continued the trend through the first week of the season.

On Tuesday, the Nationals racked up a scant three hits against rookie Brian Bannister and two relievers. That wasn't going to get the job done, certainly not when the pitching staff surrendered seven runs on 12 hits.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • Manager Frank Robinson spoke to his players before Tuesday's game against the Mets, making sure they didn't get caught up in the heated beanball war that escalated between the two clubs last week in New York. The umpires for this series have been told to have little tolerance for any extracurricular activity, especially with Pedro Martinez on the mound Wednesday night. Robinson wants his team focused on baseball, nothing else. "Go out and play the game the way they're normally going to play," he said. "Don't worry about anything else. Everything else will take care of itself. It's almost out of our hands anyways."
  • Jose Vidro was held hitless Tuesday for the first time in eight games this season. Vidro, who went 0-for-4, did hit two long shots to the warning track, but both resulted in flyouts at spacious RFK Stadium.
  • OF Alfonso Soriano homered in his first home game as a National. Soriano clubbed a solo shot off the facade of the mezzanine down the left-field line at RFK Stadium, drawing a loud ovation from the crowd of 40,530. It was Soriano's third homer of the season, perhaps one reason why he was warmly welcomed by the Washington crowd Tuesday despite his spring-training troubles.
  • Brandon Watson continues to struggle atop the Nationals' lineup. The rookie center fielder and leadoff hitter went 0-for-3 Tuesday against the Mets, leaving him with a .174 batting average (4-for-23) for the season. "He's not doing what he did in spring training," manager Frank Robinson said of Watson, who beat out Ryan Church for the job after showing he could take pitches, beat out bunts and get on base consistently.
  • RHP Ramon Ortiz looked better in his second start of the season Tuesday, but he struggled the second time around the Mets' lineup. After giving up just two hits in the game's first three innings, Ortiz was tagged for four runs and six hits over the next two en route to a 7-1 loss to New York.


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