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A pregame chat with Adam LaRoche

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This is an excerpt from Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche’s interview with Charlie Slowes from the Nationals On-Deck pre-game radio show:

Washington NationalsCharlie Slowes: Welcome back to Nationals On-Deck. Our guest is the hero of (Monday) night’s win, with a walk-off home run, Adam LaRoche. You got a Gatorade Bath at home plate, but as we speak right now, you’re still wet. That’s not from last night though?

Adam LaRoche: No, it’s not, we just did the “Ice Bucket challenge” for ALS, which I think is an awesome thing. I was called out by Brian Keaton with the Wounded Warriors and also Willie Robertson with Buck and Duck Commander, so it was nice to knock that out. We accepted the challenge — myself, one of the wounded warriors, and then Desi (Ian Desmond) and Doug (Fister) joined me on that. So, yes, we are soaked and cold.

CS: You, Ian Desmond, and Doug Fister all at once?

AL: Yup, we were all challenged by various people, so we figured we’d knock it out on the field pregame.

CS: Well, you knocked it out of the park last night, off the facing of the second deck behind the bullpen in the bottom of the 11th inning. This was the 236th career home run for you, but your first career walk off?

AL: I don’t know what to say about that, I’ve been a little bit snake bit in those situations. As the years go by, you just kind of figure that it’s not meant to be. It seems like all my ninth inning or extra inning homers come on the road. Fortunately enough, last night I got that first one under my belt and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Washington NationalsCS: We hope so too. I’m sure Nationals fans would agree. A 3-1 breaking ball; I don’t know if you were looking for it, but I could tell when I watched the replay you recognized it immediately, almost before it was out of the pitcher’s hand.

AL: I wasn’t looking for it in that situation. Typically with no one on and a 3-1 count, the last thing they want to do is put the winning run on base, but I just happened to catch it just right coming out of his hand and hit it pretty good. (It’s been) a crazy stretch here to say the least, these last few days — they’re wins so we’ll take ’em, but we’ve put ourselves in those situations the last few days where we could have made it probably a little bit easier on ourselves and a little less stressful on our skipper. We’re going to carry this momentum as long as we can.

Highlights from the Nationals comeback win in Arizona

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“What we were (Monday night) is how we’ve been all year. We’re resilient. We keep fighting.” — Kevin Frandsen

“We just don’t stop. There’s no reason to stop, just keeping going. Just because you’re down doesn’t mean the game is over. Just keep going.” — Danny Espinosa

Highlights from a sweep-clinching victory

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by Amanda Comak

“I don’t need to go out there and trick guys, and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect. I’ve just got to attack the strike zone, let my stuff work and get much better results that way.” — Stephen Strasburg after tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball and striking out 12.

“To see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see. That’s maturity. Everyone forgets how young he is. He’s going to keep on getting better and better, and today was proof of that.” — Ian Desmond on Stephen Strasburg

“This is the type of ball that we can play. You’ve got to keep tacking on runs late. These teams in our division, they can hit. So they’re going to be doing the same. But I think night in, night out if we come in here looking to outslug the other team, we’re going to be in good shape.” — Jayson Werth after the Nationals hit their second late-inning grand slam in as many games.

“We were already winning. ‘Come through’ is what Aaron Barrett did.” — Ian Desmond, when asked how he felt to ‘come through’ for the team with his grand slam that blew open a close game, referencing Aaron Barrett striking out Giancarlo Stanton to keep it a one-run game.

“The next one better be in the dirt.” — Catcher Sandy Leon to Aaron Barrett after Giancarlo Stanton crushed a slider foul. Stanton struck out on the next pitch.

Highlights from a Grand evening at Nationals Park

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by Amanda Comak

“When you’re put in that situation and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates. I was happy to do that.” – Jayson Werth after his eighth-inning grand slam gave the Nationals a 10-7 victory.

“Knowing Jayson, if a pitcher looks at him wrong, he’ll take that personally. Them blatantly walking (Anthony Rendon) to get to him, you typically don’t walk to get to your 3-hole hitter, especially a veteran guy that’s proven he can get big hits. But they chose to, and it worked out in our favor this time.” – Craig Stammen, who turned in an outstanding 3.1 innings of relief to keep the Nationals in the game, on Werth’s slam.

“I’m just happy it went over the wall and we got three runs out of it.” – Bryce Harper on his majestic three-run home run into the third deck that got the Nationals back into the game.

“Any time you’re down five, it’s tough to come back. But they fought tonight. I’m proud of them for it. They stayed in it. Bryce’s homer helped. Even after they tied the game late, they still fought, which they’re happy with and I’m happy with.” — manager Matt Williams on the Nationals’ comeback.

Photos: Opening Day at Nationals Park

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Opening Day highlights

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by Amanda Comak

NEW YORK — Early Monday morning, Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams shrugged his shoulders and issued a platitude about his nervous energy. “Opening Day,” Williams said a few hours before his first game as a Major League manager. “If you can’t get excited about Opening Day, something’s wrong.”

But almost as soon as the game began, excitement likely gave way to anxiety and stress. The Nationals’ first game of the season contained enough drama to fill a week’s worth of games, and while the victory — a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the New York Mets — was sweet, the prospect of at least 161 more ahead was perhaps the day’s most intriguing thought.

Through photos and videos, here are some of the highlights from a beautiful first day of the season:

Adam LaRoche gets the Nationals on the board with this lofty two-run home run.

Anthony Rendon’s first big hit of the day was this RBI-double.

Denard Span was in the thick of things all day, including on this game-tying double.

Anthony Rendon then gave the Nationals their 10th-inning cushion with this big three-run shot.

Here’s how the first Curly W of the season went into the books.

Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 in six innings of work. 

Highlights: 9.28.13

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9.28.13: Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 0

Stat of the Game: Dan Haren was in command in his final start of the season, scattering four hits over seven scoreless frames.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Another former D-Back, Chad Tracy, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo shot, his first homer since June 17.

It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano got the final three outs to record his 43rd save, second-most in the National League.

Highlights: 9.27.13

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9.27.13: Nationals 8, Diamondbacks 4

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each blasted three-run home runs in the victory.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Stephen Strasburg worked 7.0 solid innings in his final start of the year to earn his ninth victory, lowering his ERA to an even 3.00 for the season.

It Was Over When: Ramos’ blast doubled Washington’s lead, providing the final margin.

Highlights: 9.20.13

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9.20.13 – Nationals 8, Marlins 0

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout, giving him an NL-best 19 wins.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while making several strong defensive plays at second base.

It Was Over When: The Nationals sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, plating seven runs.

Highlights: 9.19.13

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9.19.13 – Nationals 3, Marlins 2

Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper launched his 20th home run of the season to provide all three runs of offense.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Three relievers – Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano – combined for 3.0 innings of scoreless relief.

It Was Over When: Soriano fanned Christian Yelich with two runners on to lock up his 42nd save of the year.

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