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Nats come back to earth quickly
Nationals open season at home

 Washington catcher Ivan Rodriguez slides into second base for a double ahead of the tag from Jimmy Rollins.
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Date published: 4/6/2010

BY RICH CAMPBELL

WASHINGTON

--Since the Washington Nationals came into existence in late 2004, they have come to realize exactly how fleeting the optimism of Opening Day can be.

The fanfare on this annual rite of spring has a way of making all of a team's best-case scenarios seem a bit closer to reality. So it was at Nationals Park yesterday on a glorious afternoon for which the baseball gods surely scripted the weather.

President Barack Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch wearing a Nationals jacket and Chicago White Sox hat. Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was presented with his Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards from last season. There were elaborate player introductions, oversized American flags and fireworks--more than enough to put a twinkle in the most cynical fan's eye.

All the positive vibes, however, were ruthlessly crushed by the mighty Philadelphia Phillies. By the time Spotsylvania native and reigning Miss America Caressa Cameron sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch, the Nationals were well on their way to a buzz-killing 11-1 defeat.

A palpable sense of "same ol' Nats" spread through the park long before the legions of Phillies fans in attendance stood and cheered in anticipation of the final out. It spawned from nine walks by the pitching staff and a listless day at the plate against new Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay.

"Even if we do get out to a bad start, we know what people are going to say, but we cannot allow that to get into our heads and frustrate us or cause us to play any differently," Washington outfielder Willie Harris said. "We've just got to continue to play baseball and try to get some big wins, get on a winning streak and go from there."


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