Now that the first one is over the Atlanta Braves can finally put the first game without Bobby Cox as manager since the 1990 behind them.

Chipper Jones and Brian McCann got things started for the Braves offense with two outs in the top of the first inning, as Jones doubled to right off Washington starter Livan Herndandez before McCann’s single brought Chipper around.

The surprise today was the efficiency of Atlanta starter Derek Lowe. Even though he was pulled with two outs in the bottom of the 6th, Lowe looked like he did last September.

The sinker-baller threw 5 2/3 innings, striking out six, walking two and giving up three hits in the 2011 season opener before giving way to the Braves bullpen.

Eric O’Flaherty, Peter Moylan, Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel all combined to shut the Nationals out for the final 3 1/3 innings. Kimbrel nailed down his first save of the season, showing a lot of movement on a fastball that was clocked at 97 MPH.

The improved lineup showed spurts of what Braves fans are hoping for--busting out.

Chipper and McCann had two hits each, and Jason Heyward deposited a Hernandez offering into the right-center field seats, postmarking a gift for the lucky Braves fan that came up with the ball.

While the lineup produced just 5 hits, but it was just the first game of the season.

McCann looks slimmer than he has in years past, and if today was any indication of this season, he is seeing the ball a lot better than he was at the start of last year. 

This looks like a team ready to compete for a World Series, even if the season is less than 24 hours old.