WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The new MLB replay rule came up and bit the Washington Nationals during their home opener April 4, as the hosts fell, 2-1, to the defending National League East champion Atlanta Braves.
In the bottom of the fifth, Washington's Ian Desmond hit a hard shot down the left-field line and came around to score as Atlanta left fielder Justin Upton, a Virginia native, put up his arms as the ball got lodged under the padding in foul territory.
After reviewing the play, the umpires made Desmond take second base for a ground-rule double, which brought Washington manager Matt Williams out of the dugout to argue -- but he lost that argument. Desmond was later caught stealing.
Several of the Nationals' runners were thrown out on the bases.
"I've seen [those calls] go both ways," Desmond said after the game. "I'm not too concerned with that. There were some other mistakes that were made, especially by me, that were more the story of the game than that. We had opportunities to win the game, and we didn't."
The starting pitcher for Washington was Jordan Zimmermann, whose start was pushed back a day after he had flu-like conditions April 3 in New York and could not pitch against the Mets. He allowed one run in five innings against the Braves.
"I was going out there expecting what I always expect out of myself," Zimmermann said, "and that's to go deep into the ball game. When skipper wants to take the ball out of my hand, that's his choice. That was my mentality today -- go out there and go as deep as you can, and when he wants the ball, he'll come and get it.
"I didn't feel weak or anything, so it was good. … I don't know if it was something I ate or the 24-hour flu, but it started about 2 o'clock in the morning. Pretty much went all day, so it would have been tough for me to go out there yesterday."
Washington was 6-13 last season against the Braves.
"They're always good games against these guys," Zimmermann said. "We have 18 or 19 games against them this year. It's going to be a battle every time. There's going to be a lot of close games like this. Hopefully, we come out on top for most of them."
A 19-game winner last season, Zimmermann faced 20 Atlanta batters and threw 81 pitches, 58 for strikes.
"He was good," Williams said of Zimmermann. "That last inning, he really started to labor. He didn't eat much yesterday, and very little this morning, so he didn't have a whole lot of energy going out there. So the last inning, he really started to labor out there a little bit. He started to get up in the strike zone. For what he could give us today, he was good. … You just don't have any stamina when you get sick like that."