Nationals rally after Braves batter Max Scherzer in COVID-delayed season opener

Jason Owens
·3-min read

Welcome to the 2021 season, Washington Nationals. 

After a COVID-19 outbreak forced multiple delays to their opening day, the Nationals took the diamond for the first time on Tuesday, five days after their season opener was originally slated for last Thursday. 

It got off to a rough start before the Nationals rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves. 

Braves batter Scherzer early

Washington started 36-year-old ace Max Scherzer. He was greeted by Braves slugger Ronald Acuña Jr., who promptly sent the first pitch of Washington's season over the left-field wall.

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The solo shot was the first home run of the season for the 23-year-old All-Star. It was also a sign of things to come. 

Two batters later, reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman also notched his first long ball of the season, sending a 3-1 Scherzer offering into the second deck in right field. 

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Scherzer got out of the inning with a 2-0 deficit. But Dansby Swanson opened the second inning with another home run, this one over the right-field wall.

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That was the end of Atlanta's scoring in the second. But it wasn't the end of Atlanta's batting-practice effort against the three-time Cy Young winner. The start of the Scherzer's second time through the Braves lineup looked a lot like the first. Only this time, Acuña waited for a full count to send Scherzer's pitch into the left-field stands.

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The only saving grace for Scherzer is that they were all solo shots.

Acuña's first blast continues an unfortunate trend for Scherzer, who has now allowed an opening-inning home run in three consecutive seasons.

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But it's the three ensuing home runs that will have Nationals fans worried about how much the 14-year veteran has left in the tank. 

Nationals rally for the win

Fortunately for the Nationals, their bats kept pace to tie the game at 4-4 in the third. And that was all the damage Scherzer would incur as Washington rallied for win. Scherzer pitched through the sixth inning, allowing just one hit beyond the four home runs while striking out nine Braves batters. 

Reliever Daniel Hudson picked up the win while Victor Robles and Jonathan Lucroy each tallied two RBI to lead the comeback and secure a 1-0 start.

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer watches as Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of an opening day baseball game at Nationals Park, Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer watches as the Atlanta Braves' Dansby Swanson rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of an opening day baseball game at Nationals Park on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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