Nationals

Notre Dame NG Nix always at the center of things

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Notre Dame NG Nix always at the center of things

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III always seems to find himself at the center of the action.

Whether it's clogging things up along the defensive line for the Fighting Irish or off the field videotaping his latest YouTube segment ``Chocolate News'' that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the team, Nix seems to be in the thick of things.

``I don't like to be in the center of things. I just so happen to be in the center of things,'' Nix said.

The 6-3, 326-pound lineman is a media favorite because of his amusing stories. He doesn't do interviews as much as hold court, talking to a swarm of reporters about such things as how he gets cranky if he can't have Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, or how one of the youngest of his 11 brothers gave a school presentation on Nix being the Notre Dame quarterback or how Nix thinks coach Brian Kelly should give him a shot at quarterback on goal-line situations.

``One of these days he might come around and he'll give me the ball on fourth-and-1 or whatever he wants. When I do it, then he'll just keep giving it to me,'' Nix said. ``I might get to throw it around a little bit, hopefully.''

Nix already showed he's good on goal-line situations going the other way, helping to stop Stanford in overtime on the final two plays from the 1-yard line after sitting out a play for having the wind knocked out of him. He also forced a fumble by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at the Notre Dame 8-yard line in a game the Irish won 13-6.

The fourth-ranked Irish (8-0) will be seeking to win their first nine games for the first time since 1993 when they host Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday. That 1993 team finished the year 11-1 and ranked No. 2.

Nix is sixth on the team with 30 tackles for a Notre Dame squad ranked 11th in the nation in defense. Against Oklahoma last week he was part of the Irish front that held Oklahoma to 15 yards rushing, the seventh lowest total in Sooners' history. He also broke up a pass against Oklahoma and made a tackle 11 yards downfield on a pass play.

Asked why the Irish are so good at red zone defense, ranking fourth in the nation, Nix said it's because they get tired of being on the field.

``You're ready to get to the bench and get some water and these guys are trying to score. So you have to stop them to get some water. If you want water you have to stop them,'' he said. ``You just have to want the water.''

Kelly describes Nix as a harder worker this season, which wasn't always the case. Nix arrived on campus at 368 pounds and wasn't ready to play as a freshman. He admits he thought college football was going to be easy. But he said he chose Notre Dame because he knew it would be hard, with some people warning him he'd have trouble with academics at Notre Dame.

``Right now, I'm almost to a 3.0 (grade-point average). I just like taking up challenges,'' said the film, television, and theatre major.

Kelly remembers his first impression of Nix as being ``this big, mammoth of a man who had a kid-like personality. He continues to have that. He's just added a lot of maturity to that kid-like personality,'' he said.

Nix poked fun at his coach while sitting in as a guest on Kelly's radio show earlier this year, saying how he was a great coach but adding ``sometimes he turns purple'' referring to the color Kelly turns when he's yelling.

Nix held a contest on Facebook earlier this year so he could come up with the nickname ``Irish Chocolate.''

``All the great players have a nickname. I intend on being a great player. I've worked hard for it and I continue to work hard for it, so I thought I needed a nickname,'' he said.

Nix has nearly 11,000 Twitter followers and thousands of people have watched his ``Chocolate News.'' In one episode, Nix goes shopping at Sam's Club and is seen urging freshman defensive end Sheldon Day to discard cinnamon buns while Nix buys organic carrots. In another episode he interviews Kelly after the coach underwent back surgery. Another episode shows Nix impressed with the hotel in Ireland having a television in the bathroom.

Nix said he does the segments because before he even thought about playing college football he wondered what the day-to-day life was like for players. He said a couple did a U-turn to stop him one day and thank him for the segments, calling him a role model.

``That was unexpected to me, but it made me happy to know different people watch it,'' he said.

Another chance for Nix to be the center of attention.

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What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

This is the Nationals’ first time in Miami this season, and the team finished with a 3-2 loss against the Marlins on Friday night. Here are a few things to look for as they enter the second game of the three-game series against the Floridians: 

  1. Friday night’s situational hitting was poor, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas reported. The Nats left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.However, the Nationals’ offense has changed this season. This was exemplified in Friday’s series opener against the Marlins, in which both Adam Eaton and Victor Robles bunted to get hits.
  2. Eaton singled on a bunt in the first inning, eventually scoring on a Juan Soto RBI single, while Robles also reached base safely in the third following Eaton’s strategy and then stole a base. These creative plays helped get men on base, but again, more often than not they stayed there. Brian Dozier hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning, a solo shot which gave the Nats their second and final run of the night. Dozier had a rough start to the season, and after Friday’s game, he has just two RBIs – both via solo homers. He has a batting average of .182, and he’s lost playing time to Howie Kendrick as the season has moved forward. Kendrick has a batting average of .477, the highest on the roster.
  3. Anthony Rendon continued his hit streak, extending it to 17 games with a double Friday. This is the longest hitting streak in the MLB this season, as well as the third baseman’s personal record. Within the organization, Rendon is chasing Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush’s record, which stretched to 33 consecutive hits in 1933. Can he get another on Saturday?

 

Download the MyTeams app for coverage from NBC Sports Washington of the Nationals/Marlins game on Saturday. The game broadcast will be at 6:10 PM ET on 106.7 the Fan and MASN2. 

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

The Washington Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins, 3-2, Friday night to drop back to 9-9. Here are five observations from the game...

1. For all the offseason efforts at improvement, winning the National League East could come down to its one member which is trying to lose.

The four spenders each play Miami 19 times. By the end, going 11-8 against the in-the-tank Marlins may become a lamentable part of some team’s 2019 legacy. They either brought in a marquee pitcher, a generational outfielder or a former MVP third baseman. But they didn’t do enough against the Marlins, costing themselves the single, taut playoff spot that emerges from the division. It’s a viable storyline to project.

The Nationals took their first negative step toward that fate Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

The situational hitting was poor -- Washington left 10 runners on base. The starting pitching was so-so -- Anibal Sanchez took the loss. The bullpen made one dire mistake -- Matt Grace’s first pitch hit left-hander Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded, forcing in the decisive run. The luck wasn’t great -- Caleb Smith, a quality left-hander marooned in Miami as the staff’s best pitcher, was on turn. Anticipate him representing Miami at the All-Star Game this season.

Brian Dozier homered. Mark that in the positive column. Joe Ross pitched two innings of quality relief. Put him next to Dozier.

Otherwise, the loss was sigh-worthy for a team trying to lurch forward, ending its up-and-down run of the first three weeks.

2. Another day, another hit for Anthony Rendon.

His sixth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest in Major League Baseball this season. It’s also an extension of a personal best for Rendon.

Rendon’s 15 extra-base hits in 17 games is a Nationals/Expos record.

Who is he chasing for the organization’s hit streak record? Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush, who hit safely in 33 consecutive games back in 1933.

Manush played for the Senators from 1930-1935. He hit .336 when he set the Washington record for consecutive game with a hit. He led the league in triples (17) and hits (221) that season.

Manush won a batting title in 1925 when he hit .378 for Detroit. Rendon is currently hitting .377 in the opening weeks of the season.

3. Sanchez was ok. Not great, not terrible. Just ok.

He lasted 5 ⅓ innings, allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out six. His ERA is 4.91.

Regression for Sanchez this season was expected. His 2.83 ERA in Atlanta last season came strongly against the current of his previous pitching. Sanchez had a 5.67 ERA over the three prior seasons.

However, this has been a leap back, a full two runs in arrears of last season’s ERA. More troubling than the ERA is Sanchez’s path through lineups. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate down.

As the season moves along, a comparison point for Sanchez will be the results of left-hander Wade Miley in Houston. The Nationals made a multi-year offer to Miley which was better than the offer he eventually settled on with the Astros, according to a source. Miley ended up signing for just one year in Houston because the free agent market went south, and Washington quickly pivoted to Sanchez. Keeping track of the two via ERA-plus (which accounts for park factors) during the season will be a fun exercise. Coming into Friday, Miley was by far the better pitcher in that department, 129 to 95. Another bloated outing from Sanchez only increased that gap.

4. The Nationals hoped to play a different brand of offense this season. They wanted to deploy more athleticism, using speed and contact to produce runs.

They took the idea to the extreme Friday. Adam Eaton and Victor Robles both bunted for hits. Eaton scored Washington’s first run after reaching base via his drag bunt up the first base line.

Robles stole second and ended up on third following his bunt in the same direction in the third inning.

Creative work at the plate for both.

5. Another bullpen twist hit Friday. Austen Williams was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained right AC joint. Austin Adams was called up to replace him.

Williams had a disastrous outing Wednesday in the Nationals’ 9-6 win over the Giants. He allowed four earned runs -- on two home runs -- after the Nationals entered the ninth inning with a 9-2 lead. Williams’ inability to get an out in the ninth eventually forced closer Sean Doolittle into a game he never should have entered.

Doolittle’s entrance also complicated the current series in Miami. He pitched back-to-back games to close the series against San Francisco. His Friday availability was in question because of that, though the Nationals didn’t end up needing him.

The right-handed Adams, 27, joins the team from Triple-A Fresno. He struck out 12, allowed a hit and didn’t give up an earned run in his six innings with the Grizzlies.

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