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Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

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Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

Game in a nutshell: The first matchup between winning ballclubs from Washington and Baltimore in 42 years lived up to the billing, with Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta dueling each other on the mound. Jackson gave up one early run, then cruised. Arrieta cruised until serving up a solo homer to Ian Desmond in the sixth. That left this game in the hands of both bullpens. Tyler Clippard did his part in the top of the ninth, then Darren O'Day and Troy Patton retired the heart of the Nats' lineup in the bottom of the inning, sending this one to extras. That's when Nick Markakis took matters into his own hands, crushing a pitch from Ryan Mattheus off the facing of the second deck down the right-field line to give the Orioles an 11-inning victory before an energetic crowd of 36,680.
Hitting lowlight: They tried all night to get something going at the plate. In the end, Desmond's solo homer in the sixth represented the entirety of the Nationals' offensive effort. There were missed opportunities, and there was plenty of poor execution, especially during a failed seventh-inning rally. After Bryce Harper led off with a walk, Danny Espinosa fouled off a bunt with two strikes and Rick Ankiel and Jesus Flores each popped out.
Pitching highlight: The night started off really poorly for Jackson, who walked Xavier Avery to open the top of the first and then fell behind No. 2 hitter J.J. Hardy 3-0. But credit to the right-hander for bouncing back in a big-time way after that. Jackson didn't walk another batter all night and struck out eight over eight splendid innings. He also kept his pitch count to a relatively low 95, flashing shades of his complete-game win from last month.
Key stat: Desmond now has six homers. The only major-league shortstop with more this season is the Orioles' Hardy (nine).

Up next: Game 2 of this interleague series features a couple of starters who have surprised so far this season. Left-hander Ross Detwiler (3-2, 2.75) starts for the Nats against right-hander Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.68) for the Orioles. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m., with the game televised on Fox.

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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.

RELATED: NATIONALS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people. Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis. Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one of his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to give in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in Majors at the age of 19, and has had a fluctuating career through six teams. All the while, he has kept a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? Ankiel is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written by sports writer Tim Brown. The book will be released on April 18.  

MORE NATS: Can't miss Nationals promotional schedule