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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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Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

WASHINGTON -- Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Thursday to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gio Gonzalez took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, when Jean Segura singled leading off and Guillermo Heredia took a called third strike. That prompted Seattle manager Scott Servais to complain from the dugout, which led to his ejection by plate umpire Adam Hamari.

Robinson Cano singled, and Washington manager Dusty Baker brought in Turner (2-3), despite Cruz having just one hit in 15 at-bats against Gonzalez. Cruz drove a belt-high slider over the fence in left-center for his 12th homer this season and a 3-2 lead. Cruz leads the AL with 40 RBIs.

Cano added an RBI single off Turner in the seventh. Seattle scored multiple runs for the first time since May 18.

Ariel Miranda (4-2) allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in five innings. Edwin Diaz, Seattle's sixth pitcher, threw a one-hit ninth that completed a six-hitter. Diaz got his first save since May 9 and has eight in 10 chances overall.

Gonzalez gave up two runs, three hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight.

Washington's Anthony Rendon homered in the fifth, his ninth this season and fourth in the three-game series. Jayson Werth added an RBI single later in the inning.


Baker will be leaving the Nationals for their weekend series against San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in Northern California and will rejoin the team Monday in San Francisco.


Mariners: LHP James Paxton (forearm strain) could return to the rotation in the first or second game of a homestand that starts Wednesday, Servais said. ... 1B Danny Valencia was in the lineup for a second straight day after sitting out three games with a wrist injury.

Nationals: Baker may continue to use an eight-man bullpen. Baker said the decision depends the progress of INF Stephen Drew's rehabilitation from a hamstring strain. Drew is at extended spring training.


Mariners: RHP Yovani Gallardo is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA against Boston, where Seattle begins a three-game set on Friday.

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (4-3, 3.02) has allowed two runs or fewer in his last three starts against San Diego, which opens a three-game series in Washington on Friday.

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Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.

Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.

Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight.

Ross showed no signs of the late April struggles that ended with a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. He yielded five hits and a walk while striking out six, and retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff single to begin the game.

By the time Seattle finally put multiple runners aboard, Washington had already opened a 10-0 lead.

Rendon's second-inning shot around the left field foul pole made it 2-0.

Then Werth, Harper and Rendon all connected in the fourth, helping the Nationals score seven of their eight runs in the inning with two outs.

MORE NATIONALS: WATCH: Werth, Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nationals win