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Hammel leads Orioles over Nationals

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Hammel leads Orioles over Nationals

By Rich DubroffCSNwashington.com

Before the game, the mascots tussled. The Oriole Bird stole the cap from Screechs head. The fans cheered.Unlike last months series at Nationals Park, this crowd was dominated by Orioles rooters. Many didnt even notice that Davey Johnson had brought out the lineup card in his return.The 45,891 in attendance at Oriole Park were treated to an excellent game, and the Orioles won 2-1 on Friday night, thanks to another outstanding performance from Jason HammelAfter one-hitting Atlanta in his last appearance, Hammel (8-2) pitched eight innings, allowing just an unearned run and five hits in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking none. And Jordan Zimmermann wasnt bad, allowing two runs and eight hits in seven innings. Zimmermann (3-6) again suffered from little run support. He hasnt won in his last five decisions, and the Nationals (40-28) havent scored more than three runs in any of those starts. In the second, Mark Reynolds, who hit a team-leading 37 home runs last year, launched his sixth of the year off Jordan Zimmermann.The Nationals tied it in the fifth. Ian Desmond led off with a single. With one out, Roger Bernadina grounded to third. As Wilson Betemit threw to Reynolds at first, Desmond took off for second and then headed for third. Reynolds fired the ball to Betemit, who wasnt in position to take the throw, and it skipped passed him, allowing Desmond to score.In the bottom of the fifth, Zimmermann hit Nick Johnson with a pitch. With two outs, Brian Roberts singled and J.J. Hardy doubled to score Johnson for a 2-1 lead.In the seventh, Desmond singled with one out. Danny Espinosa followed with another. Hammel struck out Roger Bernadina and then Jesus Flores lined a ball that looked as if it was going to be a game-changing single, but Hardy leaped and snared it, saving the lead.Jim Johnson picked up his 21st save, pitching a scoreless ninth.The Orioles (40-30) have won three of four against the Nationals ths season.NOTES:-The game was delayed for 61 minutes by the threat of thunderstorms. Some rain fell early in the game.-The Orioles Chris Davis is 0-for-22.-On Saturday, Wei Yin-Chen (7-2, 3.36) will start for the Orioles. Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.02) starts for the Nationals. Game time is 7:15 p.m. The game will be telecast on FOX. Bob Carpenter and Tom Verducci will be the broadcasters.

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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year

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Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals manager Dusty Baker is back for a second year and feeling optimistic for his Washington team. Spring training has begun in Florida and it has Baker thinking about how the Nats can create some excitement for local sports fans.

In an interview with American University’s WAMU radio station, Baker said D.C. wants to be a "city of champions.” Furthermore, he thinks it can be pulled off before the year ends.

"I came here to win a championship and you know I would love nothing more than to bring one to Washington. Washington, I didn’t know it before I got there, but it’s had a tough time getting out of the first round in a number of sports."

He projected the Nationals to bring home the next championship for the District, but he knows they have competition of late. 

"Washington Wizards are looking pretty good. I’m pulling for them first because their season ends before ours, so I’ve been really following them. The Capitals have a good thing going. I started watching the Redskins more this year.

"You know once it gets contagious in a city and you get a positive attitude throughout the city, then it transfers to the sports teams. So we want to be known as a city of champions, before the end of the year hopefully."

Baker has a reputation for bringing out the best in his teams, especially managing star players. He managed the San Francisco Giants for ten seasons before moving on to the Chicago Cubs, a team he managed for four seasons.

He's never won a World Series, but has taken a team to Game 7. He also finished third for the 2016 National League Manager of the Year award.

So, what are Baker’s steps for the Nationals to get that ultimate prize? A simple formula, really.

"I think that we’ve got to stay healthy, number one. We’re trying to fill the holes that we need to fill, and we’ve got to play," he said. "You know last year we were very close, we were one hit away or one play away or one pitch away from going to the next round against the Cubs."

While he says he came to win Washington a championship, he's also enjoying his time in the city. 

"I love D.C. Before that, San Francisco was my favorite town; that’s my home. But I tell you, D.C. is definitely in the running," he said. "I thought San Francisco had the best seafood, but man, you guys have the best seafood I think in the world."

Thanks, Dusty!

The Nationals play their first spring training game against the New York mets on Saturday.

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