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Dusty Baker on the Nationals: 'I wish I was there too sometimes'

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Dusty Baker on the Nationals: 'I wish I was there too sometimes'

The Washington Nationals 2019 season has not gotten off to the start many had hoped for. Even with the loss of Bryce Harper in the offseason, the talented ballclub still commanded large expectations. Currently sitting at 15-22, filled with bullpen struggles and injuries, those expectations have not been met.

When that dynamic comes about, the first person to take a great amount of the heat is typically the manager. That's reigned true in Washington, as talks about whether Dave Martinez should stay or go become more prominent with every hiccup. And when fans who have become accustomed to a certain performance on the field are no longer satisfied, it sometimes becomes easier to look upon the past and ponder, "Can't we just go back to that?"

That's reigned true as well, as some will clamor for the return of Dusty Baker, who lead the Nationals to 192 wins and two postseason appearances in the two seasons he was at the helm.

It seems as if that feeling, however, is somewhat mutual.

"I get calls and letters from people who miss me, and quite frankly, I wish I was there too sometimes," Baker said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Friday. "They'll never admit to making a mistake and bringing you back. You're really hoping for something that's not possible."

Though Baker went on to clarify that he is very happy with his time away from coaching as it allows him to take part in family events, the 69-year old still has a soft spot for the franchise.

"I enjoyed my time in D.C. and it was second only to my time in San Francisco," Baker said. "Those are two of the finest years that I've had living wise."

Considering how the Nationals decided to part ways with Baker and hire Martinez, one could understand if he felt a little bit of satisfaction in seeing things slump a little since his departure. However, that's not the case.

"You don't feel good. I still root for the players," Baker said. "You try not to feel anything cause you try not to let it really affect your life. It's nothing that you can do about it." 

He does still root for players he had a close relationship with. Like Max Scherzer, who he hates to see struggle as he knows how much of a competitor he is, and Anthony Rendon, who he believes changes the dynamic of the team when he's healthy.

Baker has also examined the team in a much closer sense, following along with the team's broadcast and even taking in Triple-A games when he gets a chance.

"They still have outstanding talent," he remarked.

While he may not be a manager anymore, Baker is still one at heart, sometimes analyzing how he thinks the Nationals can break out of their rut. Specifically, offering advice on how Martinez should approach slumping young players like Carter Kieboom and the lack of fundamentally sound ball the team has had in recent weeks.

"You have to instill the importance of being a full-fledged player, not just a hitter," Baker said. "I always stress defense. Defense doesn't win you games necessarily, but defense can lose you games."


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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 


SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 


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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.


Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.