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Nats vs. Brewers series preview

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Nats vs. Brewers series preview

By Doug McKinney
CSNwashington.com

Nationals @ Brewers
58-39 1st in NL East 44-53 4th in NL Central

The Rundown
Thursday, July 26 - Sunday, July 29
Series 33
Season Series Record vs. Brewers: First meeting of 2012

Pitching Probables
denotes left handed pitcher

Thursday, July 26 8:10 pm
Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73 ERA) @ Yovani Gallardo (10-4, 2.66 ERA)

Friday, July 27 8:10 pm
Ross Detwiler(5-3, 3.01 ERA) @ Mike Fiers (3-4, 1.96 ERA)
Saturday, July 28 7:10 pm
Jordan Zimmermann (7-6,2.31 ERA) @ Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.46 ERA)

Sunday, July 29 2:10 pm
Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13) @ Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.44 ERA)

Whos Hot & Whos Not
Nationals
Hot: 2B Danny Espinosa .400 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI in last 10 games
Not: RP Henry Rodriguez 6.43 ERA, 6 BB in last 7 IP

Brewers
Hot: RF Corey Hart - .304 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI in month of July
Not: Closer John Axford 15 ER, 4 L since June

A Series Look
Winners of five straight, the Nationals should not have a problem against the faltering Brewers in this weekends four game series. The Brew Crew has lost six games in a row, including three heartbreaking losses in Philadelphia. Milwaukees pitching staff ranks 13th in ERA in NL. They have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball.

Thought to be a postseason contender by pundits and analysts in the preseason, the Brewers are 9.5 games out of the wild card and are deemed total sellers at the trade deadline. They feature one of the biggest trading chips in SP Zack Greinke (who may be of interest to the Nationals).

Ryan Braun is still Ryan Braun and is putting up his typical numbers (28 HR, 69 RBI). But outside of him and a few complementary pieces (Hart, Aramis Ramirez), the Brewers line-up is badly missing Prince Fielder.

While the Nationals are 6-18 all-time at Miller Park and have yet to win there since 2009, there is no excuse for Washington to go into Milwaukee and not take three out of four. At the very least, they should come away with a split which would make for a 5-2 road trip.

Prediction: Nationals win 3-1

News and Notes
>MASH update: OF Jayson Werth (wrist) could return to the big leagues on Tuesday when his former team, the Phillies, are in town for a 3-game series. Werth is currently rehabbing in AAASyracuse and last night he led off playing CF.

>Odds & Ends: GM Mike Rizzo continues to say the wild RP Henry Rodriguez is assured a roster spot, but the club will have some difficult decisions to make once Werth and Chad Tracy (groin) are back. Rodriguez, who has a great deal of potential, lacks confidence as well as control on the mound. At some point you just have to cut ties If OF Rick Ankiel, who was recently designated for assignment, doesnt get picked up by the Yankees, it wouldnt surprise me if the Nationals persuaded the former pitcher to play for AAASyracuse (with a chance for September call-up). The Nationals love his defense and clubhouse presence.

Down on the Farm

>AAASyracuse: Give credit to SP John Lannan for his victorious spot start on Saturday night against the Braves. In his 7 inning, 2-run performance, Lannan stopped the bleeding after the Nats blew a 9-0 lead the night before and dropped the first game of a day-night doubleheader. That performance went a long way with not just his teammates who remain very close with the two-time Opening Day starter but the Nationals front office. He should be back up on August 3 for the Nationals doubleheader with the Marlins.

>AAHarrisburg: OF Brian Goodwin has struggled to hit since being called up, but when he does make contact, they have usually gone for extra base hits. Goodwin has two homers in seven games Fellow OF prospect Destin Hoods bat has really come to life, hitting .353 in his last 10 games.

>A (Advanced)Potomac: 2011 1st round pick SP Alex Meyer has yet to give up an earned run in Class A Advanced. The 69 righty is 1-0 with 12 strikeouts.

>A (Short Season)Auburn: 2011 1st round pick 3B Anthony Rendon is playing 3B for Auburn tonight. Expect him to play there for up to a week and then be promoted to Potomac. Rendon hit two home runs for the GCL Nationals.

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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.  

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