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Opening Day is less than stellar for Nats

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President Obama threw the ceremonial first pitch to kick off baseball season at Nats Park.

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By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Can Donovan McNabb switch uniforms and pitch in the summers?

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The way the ex-Eagles quarterback feels about Philadelphia these days, maybe somebody with the Nationals can sneak into his Redskins news conference Tuesday and beg him to start against the Phillies on Wednesday in the Nats' second game of the season.

He can't do worse.

The way John Lannan, Miguel Batista and Jason Bergmann got shelled by the National League champs in a gruesome 11-1 opening day eyesore on Monday afternoon, throwing spirals to the plate might get better results.

Conventional deliveries, the kind reminiscent of last year's worst-in-class Nats staff, produced every kind of Phillie fireworks, from a grand slam homer by tiny Plácido Polanco to an upper-deck blast by big Ryan Howard.

All were received with cheers from a sellout crowd of 41,290 that Commissioner Bud Selig guessed was one-third visiting fans.

Last year, President Stan Kasten invited Phils fans to "come on down" for the opener to help fill the stands. Come on, Stan, now that they know D.C. is south of Philadelphia, you never know when they'll show up. Even Phillies fans can't get lost on I-95.

"When I was standing with the president before the game, I heard all this cheering," Selig said. "I said to Ted Lerner, 'What are they chanting?' And he didn't know. Fortunately, he didn't know because they were chanting, 'Let's go Phillies!' "

"That was impressive," said the Phils' Jayson Werth. "It felt like all of right field was only Phillies fans. This has kind of started to be our home away from home a little bit."

Does anybody have the clubhouse phone number in Harrisburg? There's a rookie up there who isn't so hospitable.

The Nats' last best chance may have come when President Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch -- high and over the left-handed batter's box. You can't hit what you can't reach. Nats pitchers didn't follow the hint, the worse for them.

From the first strike thrown by Lannan, which Jimmy Rollins lashed into left for a hit, the Phils acted like every Nats pitch was their personal request.


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