So it wasn’t surprising that the two phenoms were the keys to victory on Opening Day.
Harper hit two home runs in his first two at-bats, and Stephen Strasburg recorded 19 consecutive outs in the Nationals 2-0 win over Miami on Monday in Washington.
“Let Harper and Stras go to work,” Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “They didn’t need us.”
Harper, 20, and last season’s NL Rookie of the Year, slugged solo homers in the first and fourth innings in his first opening day game after starting last year in the minor leagues.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Harper said. “Just going out there and having some fun on opening day for the first time.”
Strasburg, who was shut down last September before the playoffs, pitched seven innings, allowing three hits and no walks with three strikeouts. He needed only 80 pitches to get through seven shutout innings before being pulled for a reliever.
“If it wasn’t opening day, or the first start of the year, it would have been a different story,” Strasburg told the Washington Post.
The Nationals, who won a major-league best 98 games last season before losing to St. Louis in the playoffs, believe Harper and Strasburg will lead them to bigger and better things this year.
“They’re both just scratching the surface,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “They’ve got a lot more epic things in them.”
Opening Day highlights:
The Houston Astros started their first season in the American League with an 8-2 win over Texas before a sellout crowd of 41,307 at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday night. It was also the Astros’ 4,000th win in franchise history, the 18th highest total in baseball.
Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run on opening day in 60 years in the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 win over San Francisco on Monday. The last pitcher to do it was Bob Lemon, for Cleveland in 1953.
Derek Jeter wasn’t in the Yankees opening-day lineup for the first time since 2001, and New York went on to lose 8-2 to rival Boston. The loss snapped an 11-game, season-opening win streak at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees first such loss since 1982.
Detroit’s Justin Verlander won his first opening-day game in six attempts, 4-2 over Minnesota.
The Los Angeles Angels won their fifth straight opening-day game, 3-1 at Cincinnati.
Atlanta won its fifth consecutive opener by a 7-5 score over Philadelphia, at home.
Felix Hernandez struck out eight batters as the Seattle Mariners won their opening-day game 2-0 at Oakland.
Arizona had 15 hits, including seven doubles, to beat St. Louis 6-2, in Phoenix.
Diamond Notes: Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has a new agent in Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z. Cano, who is in the final season of a $57 million contract, formerly worked with agent Scott Boras…Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus agreed to an eight-year, $120 million extension… The Dodgers have placed RHP Chad Billingsley and LHP Ted Lilly on the disabled list retroactive to March 22. The team is beginning the season with a four-man rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu…Cincinnati OF Ryan Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder on a slide on Opening Day…Red Sox DH David Ortiz will play in some rehab games in Ft. Myers, Fla. this weekend. He hasn’t played since March 10, suffering from inflammation in both heels.
Copyright © 2013 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.