Opening Day: Nats fall to Braves in 2023 opener

Opening day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Jose Umaña)
Opening day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Jose Umaña)
Opening Day gets underway at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/ Dave Preston)
Opening Day gets underway at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/ Dave Preston)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans pose with George Washington, one of the National's famous "Racing Presidents." (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans pose with George Washington, one of the National’s famous “Racing Presidents.” (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
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Opening day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Jose Umaña)
Opening Day gets underway at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023. (WTOP/ Dave Preston)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans pose with George Washington, one of the National's famous "Racing Presidents." (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fans streaming into Nationals Park on Opening Day March 30, 2023. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

It’s time to play ball!

The 2023 regular season for the Washington Nationals officially got underway Thursday with large crowds streaming into Nationals Park in Southeast D.C. to see the team take on the Atlanta Braves.

The team played on a new field with new grass and clay, plus brand-new bases — 3 inches bigger this year than last — and fans were able to enjoy a number of new food offerings at the park.

But the enthusiasm of starting a new season wasn’t enough to propel the Nats to a win, with the team falling to the Braves, 7-2.

There was plenty Opening Day pomp-and-circumstances ahead of the first pitch shortly after 1 p.m.

Pregame ceremonies kicked off Thursday morning,

Fan favorite and World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for his “Baby Shark” walk-up music during the team’s 2019 World Series run, helped kick off the new season by riding with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood.

Other pregame festivities, including the United States Armed Forces Color Guard presenting the colors, singer DC Washington performing the national anthem and a flyover from the 121st Fighter Squadron from the D.C. Air National Guard.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Nats also honored former managing principal owner Ted Lerner, who died in February, by putting him in the team’s Ring of Honor.

While the losing the opener surely stung, fans were treated to sunny and pleasant weather with blue skies, light winds and temperatures in the 50s.



How exciting is opening day? WTOP’s Kyle Cooper asked Nationals mascot Screech and Teddy Roosevelt on their “thoughts” on the upcoming season.

What’s new at Nationals Park?

There are a number of new additions inside the ballpark such as local vendors for food, such as the new slow-cooked ribs, handcrafted sandwiches and homemade crab dip.

Jonathan Stahl, vice president of experience and hospitality for the Nationals, told WTOP’s Kyle Cooper that these are some new ways to get your food fast.

“When you come to a concession stand, you’ll see the food freshly prepared on the heat slide,” he said, adding that fans can easily grab their food and check out on a nearby kiosk, which will “get you back to their seats faster.”

Also, there will be grab-and-go drink options and new lines of premium products, such as T-shirts and new bobbleheads.

John Turnour, the Nats’ director of field operations, said that the team will be running on a new field this season, which began growing in January. Other minor adjustments were made to accommodate the new bases, which are three inches bigger this year.

See more of the new additions to Nats Park here.

WTOP’s  Jack Moore, Tadiwos Abedje and Kyle Cooper contributed to this report.

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WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: Baseball fans and passerby congregate outside the ballpark before gates open prior to the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: Baseball fans and passerby congregate outside the ballpark before gates open prior to the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: Baseball fans and passerby congregate outside the ballpark before gates open prior to the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: A general view outside of the ballpark before the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: A general view as the grounds-crew prepare the infield before the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: A baseball fan walks the concourse in front of displayed baseballs before the Atlanta Braves playing against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: Opening Day merchandise is displayed in the team store before the Atlanta Braves play against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 30: Beer and snacks are displayed before the Atlanta Braves play against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Nationals Park on March 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
An Opening Week logo is painted on the field before an opening day baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Groundskeepers prepare the field before an opening day baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Outside Nats Park on Thursday morning. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Nationals Park is ready for opening day with the home team taking on the Atlanta Braves. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
The mascots Teddy Roosevelt and Screech excited for opening day. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
The Nationals Park sign inside the ballpark. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
The “2023 Opening Week” sign sprayed onto the field. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
The “2019 World Series Champions” inside the dugout. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
Inside the dugout at Nationals Park. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
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