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Dusty Baker wants D.C. fans to remain positive about Nats in playoffs

Dusty Baker wants D.C. fans to remain positive about Nats in playoffs

After losing Game 4 and having it all come down to a do-or-die Game 5, the Nationals still feel confident they can advance to the NL Championship Series to face the Chicago Cubs. Some of their fans, however, have their doubts.

It is perhaps understandable given how long it has been since Washington, D.C. won a world championship, since 1992 when the Redskins captured the Super Bowl. Only Minneapolis-St. Paul has waited longer among U.S. cities with at least three teams in the four major sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL). No such city has waited longer than D.C. has - 18 years - to simply reach the semifinals of their respective league.

It's a topic well-documented by media, including by a certain Nationals reporter at CSN who has unfortunately been writing about it since 2009. But do the players know about how long it's been for D.C. to have a deep playoff run?

According to manager Dusty Baker, the answer is yes. However, he doesn't want that to create any doubt or negativity. Just because teams before the 2016 Nationals have fallen short in the playoffs, doesn't mean they will.

Baker issued a long message to Washington fans ahead of Game 5 at Nationals Park:

"Yeah, you notice it. This is why we're here. We come here for the organization and ourselves, but the town. This is something that lasts. If you go a long ways, it lasts forever when you finally win. One thing I urge the town is to be in a positive mood. I was speaking to some hockey fans, I was watching the game, and they were expecting bad things to happen.

"I haven't been here long enough to know what the history is. All I know is that positive thoughts go a long ways. Places where I've been where the people are positive, no matter what the score was or no matter what, there was usually a positive outcome. Other places I've been where they expect negative, then they get negative outcomes. I just urge everybody. They say the mind can move mountains. They certainly can move the ball. I just want everybody to just think good and happy thoughts."

It's an admirable attempt. But D.C. fans probably won't rest easy until the game is over.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman also weighed in. He knows the history as an 11-year member of the Nats, Virginia-native and longtime resident of D.C.

Zimmerman says the Nats won't be satisfied to just advance one more round.

"I think winning the World Series is the ultimate thing. Say we win this game and don't make it out of the next round; I don't think anyone is going to be like, 'oh, you remember that year when we went to the Championship Series? I'm not trying to downplay it all. It would be a huge step to go to the next round. But I think the ultimate goal is to win the World Series."

Fair enough.

[RELATED: Strasburg ruled out for NLCS, throws bullpen session]


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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win


Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

ATLANTA  -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.

After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.

Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.

Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.

Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.

The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.

The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.

Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.

The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

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Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman's resurgent season continues to get more and more impressive. 

Zimmerman hit his 34th home run of the season on Thursday night, setting a new career high. 

His previous career high was set in 2009, when he hit 33 while slashing .292/.364/.525 with a .888 OPS. 

He didn't get cheated on it, either: