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Play Ball! -- LIVE

          FINAL: This Opening Day is history. Marlins win 12-6 (Kensing gave up a run in the ninth). Lots of fireworks, and I'm sure the day's major figures -- Bonifacio and Ramirez -- should have plenty to say. Four home runs for the Fish, three of which left the park and one that remained inside.

          Thanks for joining in today and we'll do it again soon!

          8th INNING: A 1-2-3 eighth for left-hander Dan Meyer. So the pen is off to a good start. Things have quieted down here, finally, and it appears quite a number of fans are heading for the exits, secure in the belief that the 12-5 lead will stand up.

          7th INNING: Kiko Calero pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. And -- STOP THE PRESSES! -- the Nationals have finally retired Bonifacio, who grounded out weakly to first to end the seventh.

          DID YOU KNOW? Bonifacio's inside-the-park homer was the first such home run on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski did it for the Boston Red Sox at Tiger Stadium on Opening Day in 1968.

          6th INNING: The Marlins are out of hand! Hanley Ramirez has just hit his first career grand slam, extending the lead to 12-5. So, to recap: the Marlins today have a grand slam, inside the park home run, three stolen bases from one player, and two curtain calls. Coming into today, Ramirez had gone 7 for 27 without a home run with the bases loaded. Ramirez becomes the third Marlin to hit a grand slam on Opening Day, joining Preston Wilson in 2002 and Juan Encarnacion in 2005. MARLINS 12, NATIONALS 5.

           EMILIO BONIFACIO UPDATE: He beats out a sixth-innng bunt for a single, stole his third base, and is now 4-for-4. Unable to confirm rumors that Nationals have asked for a re-do on the November trade that sent Bonifacio to Florida for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham. Will continue checking, however.

          Attendance Update: Just announced: 34,323 -- better than what the Marlins were anticipating, but about 4,000 fewer than last year's opener when the Mets were in town and Johan Santana was on the hill.

           6th INNING: We suddenly have a game. Adam Dunn has launched a bomb to right, a 3-run shot off Nolasco that cuts the Marlins lead to 8-5. And, just to prove he's human, Bonifacio is charged with an error right before the blast, failing to come up with Zimmerman's line drive. We might get a chance to see what the bullpen can do (and Lindstrom in the 9th if the score remains at this 3-run margin). MARLINS 8, NATIONALS 5.

           5th INNING: The eight runs scored so far by the Marlins would not be an Opening Day record for the franchise. The Marlins won their '98 opener, 11-6 over the Cubs (then proceeded to lose their next 11 games en route to a 108-loss season), won the 2005 opener over the Braves, 9-0, and won the 2007 opener over the Nats, 9-2.

           Have been unable to confirm reports that Dan Marino Boulevard has been re-named Emilio Bonifacio Avenue.

          4th INNING: The shutout bid is gone, too. Dunn doubled off the Teal Monster to score Guzman and Kearns doubles in another run. Inbetween, Cantu reached to his right to grab Nick Johnson's hard shot and touches the bag for the out.Not sure if Mike Jacobs makes that play last season. In fact, I'll go ahead and say it: Jacobs does NOT make that play 90 percent of the time. MARLINS 8, NATIONALS 2.

          ********* It's no longer just Opening Day. It's Emilio Bonifacio Day. The little guy is making fans fast. He just hit an inside-the-park home run -- I kid you not -- on a fly ball over the head of Nats center fielder Lastings Milledge. The Herald's own John Devine, who is sitting with us in the press box, had just remarked on how shallow Milledge was playing when Bonifacio lofted a fly ball over his head and raced around the bases for the insider. Bonifacio is now 3-for-3 with two stolen bases, three runs scored, and an inside-the-park homer. Fans asked for a curtain call and Bonifacio obliged, re-emerging from the dugout to acknowledge their cheers.

          3rd INNING: There will be NO no-hitter for Nolasco. Jesus Flores singled with one out. No harm done, though. Washington fails to score. Bonifacio makes a diving catch in front of Nolasco on Lannon's terrible bunt try, which was popped in the air.

          ******** Think Nolasco can protect a 6-0 lead? That's what he has at the moment after the Marlins just erupted for four runs. Home runs by Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida, and Bonifacio is putting on a show. He singled to right once again (2 for 2) and stole third. I would venture to say he is leading the majors in both hitting and stolen bases at this very moment. He ends up scoring when Ramirez fisted a double over the first baseman's head to shallow right. Cantu smashes a 2-run bomb on a 3-0 pitch off Lannan, who doesn't look long for this game,and Hermida caps off the scoring by lining a home run shot over the wall in right. Marlins 6, Nats 0. 

          2nd INNING: Three up, three down for the Nationals in the second. Nolasco looks very sharp right now. He's already notched four K's. Got Dunn looking on a slow curve and struck out Austin Kearns on a high fastball.

         ****** Quiet half-inning for the Marlins, though Cameron Maybin beat out a ground ball that was bobbled for an error by Washington second baseman Ronnie Belliard.

         1st INNING: No-Hitter Alert! Ricky Nolasco throws a 1-2-3 inning, whiffing Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman to end the frame. (By the way, time has officially begun. At least if you ask esteemed Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell, who wrote the book "Why Time Begins on Opening Day." He's sitting in the press box today)

           ***** Marlins break out to 2-0 lead, begin to envision first 162-0 season in baseball history. Seriously. Newcomer Emilio Bonifacio put to rest -- at least temporarily -- concerns that he doesn't reach base enough to justify his status as the team's leadoff hitter. He led off with a sharp single to right, stole second, and scored on John Baker's double over the head of Adam Dunn. Then we had Hanley Ramirez drop down a BUNT (yes, BUNT), advancing Baker to third. Baker ended up scoring on Jorge Cantu's ground ball. Marlins 2, Nationals 0. 

           INTROS -- Nice round of applause from the fans for former Marlins Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham when they were introduced....Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria presented Hanley Ramirez with the Silver Slugger Award for his offensive prowess last season...Uniform number update: infielder Andy Gonzalez will wear No. 13. He told me that's his mother's favorite number.

          PRE-GAME: Welcome to the 2009 season. Thought spring training would never end. Seven weeks was a bit much. But here we are, basking under the sun and preparing to enjoy some hardball, unlike fans in Boston and Chicago. Red Sox and White Sox were postponed due to inclement weather.

         I plan on popping in now and then throughout the game with observations, insights and just plain meaningless minutia. The stands are filling, the grounds crew is watering the infield, the flags are flapping..... 

          Here are the lineups, just to get things started:

          Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p.

          Nationals: 1. Lastings Milledge, cf; 2. Cristian Guzman, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, lf; 5. Nick Johnson, 1b; 6. Austin Kearns, rf; 7. Ronnie Belliard, 2b; 8. Jesus Flores, c; 9. John Lannan.

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