Beninati: Lengthy Shootout Win

Beninati: Lengthy Shootout Win

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Caps fans love it when a lengthy shootout goes their way and tonight's game gave them an awful lot to appreciate. This game had so many twists and turns. Let's work backwards from the end of the game, back to the opening period.Semyon Varlamov was exceptional in the shootout. His cat-like reflexes were on display as eleven Islanders tried to beat him and only Jeff Tambellini succeeded.The Caps were also stymied byDwayne Roloson at the other end. Alex Semin scored in round two for the home team and then Chris Clark rifled home the eventual game winner in the 11th round. Before that an Islander had the game on his stick, eight straight times to no avail.The Islanders never give up in a hockey game, so it was no surprise to see them rally to tie the game late in regulation. Trent Hunter's 30-foot slapshot was overpowering with 2:08 left, giving the New Yorkers a power play goal that forced overtime. What else is new when these two teams play? Seven of their last nine meetings have not been settled in regulation.Alex Ovechkin would have loved to play in this one. It was a wide open offensive showcase from the beginning. I don't expect Alex to play in this weekend's games. But he had to pleased when his buddy Alex Semin scored just eight seconds into the game with an evil slapshot. That marker tied the Caps record for fastest goal from the start of a game, equaling the late Gaetan Duchesne's goal against St. Louis in March of 1987.The Islanders took that early uppercut and came back with a few big punches of their own. Three goals on just five shots prompted an early exit for Jose Theodore. The only goal I didn't care for was the one by Matt Moulson. Theodore left a bad rebound off the initial shot for Mark Streit which was not a tough one to handle.

Lifting Theodore sparked the Caps to rally for their veteran netminder. A young goalie eventually proved to be the hero on a night when Verizon Center was shaking at games end. See you on CSN for Friday's game with Minnesota.

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Thoughts on the death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez

Thoughts on the death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez

The baseball world lost one of its best on Sunday morning with the tragic death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez, an ace pitcher who at just 24 years old had already established himself as arguably the most feared right-hander in baseball. He was a dominant force who was unquestionably one of the best players on the planet and a guy so many of us were genuinely excited to watch for years to come.

The details of his life off the field made his ending that much more tragic, how he had escaped from Cuba and been separated from his grandmother for so long. How just a week ago he revealed on Intagram that he and his girlfriend were expecting a child.

On the field, he had the talent to be a Hall of Famer, one of the best pitchers of all time. And by all accounts, he was a splendid person as well. On the mound his vibrant personality was easy to see through his emotional pitching style. It seemed like he was never stoic. There was always either a smile or a scowl. He lived in the moment and every pitch was an event.

It's clear how much opposing players admired him, not only with the outpour of condolences since his death, but with how they talked about him while he was still alive. Bryce Harper's famous quotes made to ESPN this spring training about how there should be more emotion and personality in the game honed in on Fernandez. He was the central example of his argument.

Here's what Harper told ESPN in March:

"Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care. Because you got him. That's part of the game."

That's some serious respect from a guy who who had more plate appearances against Fernandez than any other player. Because he played in the same division as Fernandez, Harper faced him 26 times. He only got four hits - not one of them for extra bases - and posted a lowly .595 OPS. Yet, he admired Fernandez and enjoyed facing him.

A lot of Nationals players saw Fernandez frequently and none of them had success. Yes, none of them.

Jayson Werth went 1-for-20 with seven strikeouts. Wilson Ramos went 3-for-18 with six strikeouts. Danny Espinosa went 2-for-16. Anthony Rendon went 3-for-22 with nine strikeouts. Ryan Zimmerman, who went 4-for-15, was a relative standout in the bunch and he couldn't solve him, either.

Ian Desmond, who left the Nats to sign with the Rangers this offseason, went 0-for-17 with 12 strikeouts against Fernandez when he was in Washington. And Desmond is a three-time Silver Slugger and two-time All-Star.

Fernandez made 10 starts against the Nats in his career and went 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA. He gave up 34 hits in 63 2/3 innings and struck out 84 batters. 

Fernandez struck out 12.9 batters per nine innings this season, the best rate in the majors. In his last outing, which was against the Nationals, he tossed eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks and just three hits allowed. He took a first-place team and made them look like they didn't even belong on the same field.

It didn't matter who you were. You were not going to hit his high-90s fastball that moved in all sorts of directions as it crossed the plate. You weren't going to hit his curveball, that dropped in the zone with zip and precision.

He was just that good. And now he's gone.

[RELATED: Nationals took relatively smooth road to winning 2016 NL East]

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A lucky win for the Redskins? Or were Giants lucky to be in it?

A lucky win for the Redskins? Or were Giants lucky to be in it?

Giants guard Justin Pugh thinks the Redskins got lucky in their 29-27 win on Sunday.

I feel like we should have won that game,’’ Pugh said. “If they weren’t playing for the Redskins, they probably feel like they should have lost that game, too. We hurt ourselves with turnovers, penalties, everything you can do to lose a game today we did.’’

Perhaps the Giants should have won. But perhaps the Redskins should have won going away instead of having to sweat it out until Su’a Cravens’ interception with just over a minute left to play. Let’s add up the points the Redskins gave away during the game.

—The Redskins forced the Giants to go three and out on the first possession of the game, but Quinton Dunbar accidentally touched the ball and New York recovered. The play cost the Redskins seven points as the Giants drive down the short field to a touchdown.

—Josh Norman had both of his hands on a Eli Manning pass later in the first period but he couldn’t hold on to it. If he gets that pick the Giants don’t get a touchdown on the next play. Seven more points given away, 14 so far.

—A ticky-tack illegal contact foul on Cravens let the Giants covert a fourth and two in the second quarter. The drive ended with a New York touchdown run. That’s 21 net points the Redskins have lost to this point.

—Kirk Cousins had a brain cramp and didn’t get rid of the ball when he needed to from the six yard line at the end of the first half. The mistake could have cost the Redskins seven but we’ll go with three because a field goal from there was a certainty. So that’s 24 points the Redskins left on the table.

—In the third quarter it appeared to almost everybody that David Bruton had taken a ball away from Odell Beckham and should have had an interception. But the officials disagreed and the Giants kept the ball and kicked a field goal. So that makes a net of 27 points that should be in the Redskins favor.

I’m sure that Pugh can come up with a similar list for the Giants. But that is life in the NFL. The outcome of almost every game could swing on a handful of plays. The Redskins made theirs when the absolutely had to and the Giants did not.

MORE REDSKINS: BECKHAM GETS YARDS, BUT NORMAN GETS WIN