03/31/08 12:30 AM ET
A night of firsts at Nationals Park
Exciting walk-off win ushers in new era in Washington
By Michael Phillips / Special to MLB.com
Would Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run have left RFK?
"It would have bounced," first baseman Nick Johnson joked.
If the stadium planners had built the walls just a few feet closer, Zimmerman wouldn't have had the stadium's first walk-off homer Sunday. A few feet nearer to home plate, the Braves would've got a home run from Brian McCann in the third, and Zimmerman might never have had a chance to be the hero.
"I squared up good," McCann said. "It was just one of those things where a few inches is a home run."
It was a night of discovery at Nationals Park and a night of firsts, beginning with President George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. That was followed by these other achievements:
First pitch: Thrown at 8:21 p.m. ET, when Odalis Perez delivered to Kelly Johnson of Atlanta. Johnson fouled the ball into the backstop.
First strikeout: Four pitches later, Perez struck Johnson out on a 2-2 pitch.
First walk: Perez again wrote his name in the record books when he walked the second batter, Yunel Escobar.
First hit: Cristian Guzman delivered the ballpark's first hit on the first pitch in the bottom of the first. Tim Hudson was the pitcher who allowed it.
First error: This one went to Hudson, who botched a pickoff attempt on Guzman, allowing him to take second and third base.
First run: Guzman scored soon after and was greeted by his teammates as he returned to the Nationals' dugout with fireworks going off.
First RBI: First baseman Nick Johnson sent a blooper into shallow right field, keeping it just fair and plating Guzman.
First double: Johnson's hit that scored Guzman in the first.
First home run: Braves All-Star Chipper Jones sent one to left-center field in the top of the fourth inning. The 2-0 pitch went two rows deep, just above the "Welcome Home" painted on the wall.
First pickoff: Perez got Atlanta's Johnson leaning too far to record the final out in the top of the third.
First Presidents Race: The Presidents Race has a slightly longer course this year, going from center field to the first-base dugout. Fan favorite Teddy Roosevelt was foiled once again, running straight into the outfield instead of around the warning track. George Washington won as Thomas Jefferson tripped and took down Abraham Lincoln with him.
First injury: Elijah Dukes left the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his right hamstring and will be put on the disabled list.
First pinch-hitter: Rob Mackowiak hit for pitcher Perez in the fifth. He grounded out to second base in his first at-bat with the Nationals.
First relief pitcher: The Nationals' Saul Rivera pitched two innings of relief in the sixth and seventh.
First win: It goes to the same man who got the first blown save, Jon Rauch, who yielded a run in the bottom of the ninth on a passed ball but was the beneficiary of Zimmerman's blast.
First loss: Braves reliever Peter Moylan was hung with the first "L" at Nationals Park.
Michael Phillips is a contributor at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.