A’s sell infielder Brandon Hicks to Mets

A’s sell infielder Brandon Hicks to Mets

Brandon Hicks was designated for assignment by the A’s last week and today he was traded to the Mets for cash. Or, you know, sold. Ronny Cedeno is a free agent, so the Mets could give Hicks a chance to win the utility infielder job. Oakland claimed the 27-year-old off waivers from Atlanta last spring.…

Penguins proving why bottom six matters

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Penguins proving why bottom six matters

News, notes and some World Cup of Hockey roster announcements as the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks prepare to battle it out in the Stanley Cup Final:

Rust never sleeps: Caps GM Brian MacLellan wasn’t just whistling Dixie when he said the Caps need to infuse offense into their bottom two forward lines.

The Caps received just four even-strength goals in 12 games from their bottom six forwards – three from Jay Beagle and one from Jason Chimera. (Justin Williams added three goals, two of them when he was dropped to a third line).

The Penguins, on the other hand, have gotten 22 even-strength goals from their bottom six, including two from Bryan Rust in their series-clinching 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Rust’s second goal came just 30 seconds after the Lightning tied the game in the second period, to help the Penguins advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in franchise history (1991, 1992, 2008, 2009, 2016).

Rust became the second rookie in NHL history to record multiple goals in two series-clinching wins in a single postseason. The other was Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick in 1990.

Rust has five goals through 17 playoff games, which matches his career total from his 55 regular-season appearances (5 goals, 8 assists).

Rookie goalies: Per Elias, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray (16 saves) and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (37 saves) became the sixth set of rookie goaltenders to face off in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the first since the 2006 Eastern Conference Final, when Carolina’s Cam Ward defeated Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.

Game 7s: The Penguins are now 8-7 all-time in Game 7s, including a 3-7 record at home. Their home win in a Game 7 was their first since the 1995 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals when they beat the Caps 3-0. …The team that scores first improved to 124-42 (.747) all-time in Game 7s, including a 5-0 record this year. … Home teams improved to 97-69 (.584) all-time in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including a 4-1 record this year.

Next up: Based on their superior regular-season point total, the Penguins will host Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Monday night at Consol Energy Center.

Late arrival: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos logged 11:55 and two shots on goal while playing in his first game since March 31. … Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin totaled 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 playoff games. He had 4 goals and 10 assists in 21 regular season games.

Ask Stanley on Twitter: Phil Pritchard, the Keeper of the Cup, will visit Twitter Canada’s headquarters in Toronto today for a Q&A with fans beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET. Twitter members can use the #AskStanley hashtag to ask Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) questions about his adventures with the Cup as well as what to expect heading into the Stanley Cup Final.

World Cup announcements: The Caps had no additions to Team Russia, Team Czech Republic and Team Finland, which announced their complete 23-man World Cup rosters earlier today.

But they could have additions to Team Sweden (Marcus Johansson) or Team USA (Matt Niskanen).

Here is the complete announcement schedules for today:

Team Finland – 3 a.m.
Team Czech Republic – 5 a.m.
Team Russia – 5 a.m.
Team Sweden – 11 a.m.
Team Europe – 6:09 p.m.
Team USA – 6:13 p.m.
Team North America – 6:16 p.m.
Team Canada – 6:22 p.m.

Orioles strikeouts continue, losing streak reaches four

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Orioles strikeouts continue, losing streak reaches four

Astros 4, Orioles 2 

Winner: McCullers (1-1) 
Loser:  Gausman  (0-2) 
Save: Giles (1) 

WHAT WENT WRONG: Kevin Gausman equaled his career high by allowing three home runs, two to George Springer and a two-run shot by Luis Valbuena.

The last time he allowed three homers was on May 28, 2013, his second major league start, against the Nationals.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Rookie Ashur Tolliver, who had been in the Orioles minor league system since 2009, made his major league debut with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. 

MORE ORIOLES: MANY UNDERSTUDIES FOR WIETERS

STREAKING THE WRONG WAY: The Orioles have lost four straight games for the first time this season. 

LATE OFFENSE: The Orioles had just two hits came in the first eight innings, a home run by Mark Trumbo in the second, and Hyun Soo Kim’s single in the sixth. 

In the ninth, Kim singled and came home on a long single by Manny Machado.

STRIKING OUT, STRIKING OUT: The Orioles struck out 15 times, enabling Houston pitchers to set a major league record with 52 in the three-game series.

LEAVING THEM ON: Lance McCullers walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but Matt Wieters struck out to end the inning.

OOPS: Machado made his third error in two games. 

GOODBYE VALBUENA: The Orioles will be happy to say goodbye to Luis Valbuena, who homered in all three games against the Orioles. He has seven lifetime home runs (against Baltimore.

UP NEXT: Mike Wright (2-3, 4.97) faces Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.31) as the Orioles begin a three-game series in Cleveland on Friday night. 

Bryce Harper cut up his batting gloves so they wouldn't be sold online

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper cut up his batting gloves so they wouldn't be sold online

When Bryce Harper came to the plate sans batting gloves for his third at-bat on Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, the move appeared to be his latest attempt to break out of his month-long slump. With the gloves on, he had struck out and weakly grounded out in his prior chances, so perhaps this was just another trick to try and get him out of his funk. 

Cameras even caught Harper ripping his gloves in the dugout apart just before the plate appearance, so it was clear this was not an accident. But as he revealed after the game, while it was done intentionally, it wasn't for the reasons you'd think. 

"Nah, it's just so people don't sell them on eBay to tell you the truth," Harper said afterward. 

Huh? EBay?

"I always cut the batting gloves up," he continued, "and [they] ripped on the top of the hand and [I] had the bat boy come in and give me another pair and put them on and ripped them again."

Regardless of the motivations, going glove-less worked; Harper launched a mammoth home run to the third deck to tie the game, which marked his first long ball in nearly two weeks. 

"I guess the baseball gods don't want me to wear the batting gloves right now," he quipped. "I went up and hit a homer and came back and cut 'em up just so guys don't come out of the trash can and grab 'em and sell 'em. It's happened before."

Alrighty then. Apparently people have been trying to auction off Harper memorabilia before he was able to put a stop to it. So if you're looking to sell some game-worn Harper batting gloves, it sounds like you won't be finding any in the trash cans near the Nats dugout.