Meanwhile, Jered Weaver continues to dominate

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Meanwhile, Jered Weaver continues to dominate

From Comcast SportsNet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver gave the Los Angeles Angels all the relief they needed. Weaver pitched a four-hitter for his major-league leading 15th victory, and the Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Monday night to overtake the final spot in the crowded AL wild card standings. After a burned-out bullpen was taxed while losing four of the previous five, the Angels ace gave the staff a much-needed night off. "He's one of the best," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "And that's what the best do." Weaver (15-1) struck out nine, walked none and faced the minimum through 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander has won nine straight and a career-best 10 consecutive decisions since his only loss of the season May 13 against Texas, ranking second in franchise history to Jarrod Washburn, who won 12 consecutive decisions in 2002. "There's really no answer," Weaver said about his impressive run. "Things have been going my way." Erick Aybar singled three times and scored twice in his first game back from the disabled list to move Los Angeles (59-51) ahead of Oakland (58-51) and Baltimore (58-51) by one victory. Detroit (59-50) is in line for the other wild card spot. Jarrod Parker (7-6) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked one in Oakland's third straight loss and major-league leading 13th shutout this season. "Jered did his job on the other side and I just needed to be better," Parker said. "When I start to aim that's when I get into trouble." All the offense Weaver wanted came in typical Angels fashion. Kendrys Morales doubled leading off the second and scored on a two-out single by Aybar, who had been on the disabled list since July 22 with a broken big toe on his right foot. Mike Trout singled home Aybar two batters later to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Trout also stole second in the first, second and eighth innings to extend his franchise record to 27 straight steals without being caught. He leads the majors with 36 stolen bases. "He wreaks havoc out there," Parker said. The Angels center fielder also singled to open the fifth but was called out sliding head-first into second on right fielder Josh Reddick's 13th assist. Trout immediately hopped up, furiously waving his hands and screaming at second base umpire Bill Miller in protest. Trout had to be restrained by both base coaches and manager Mike Scioscia. In the end, the only motions that mattered came on the mound. Weaver worked his way through the A's lineup with relative ease, facing the minimum through 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander erased the only base runner during that time -- a single by Brandon Inge leading off the bottom of the third -- when he got Eric Sogard to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Angels ace struck out the side in the fifth despite allowing a one-out single to Brandon Moss and didn't allow a runner on second until the sixth, when Eric Sogard reached on a groundout to second and advanced on Coco Crisp's ground out. Jemile Weeks popped up too short to end the inning. "You always want that lead dog," Scioscia said of Weaver. "And Weave is that lead dog." After consecutive singles by Aybar and Chris Iannetta in the seventh, Torii Hunter lined a two-run single up the middle to extend the Angels' lead to 4-0 and give Weaver more than enough room for error. Weaver now 11 career complete games and three this season, including a no-hitter against Minnesota on May 2. "He's extremely frustrating," A's catcher Derek Norris said. The one hitter Weaver never had to face has made all the difference for Oakland this season. Yoenis Cespedes did not start for the second time in three games as he recovers from a right wrist sprain. After sitting out Saturday, he went 0 for 4 on Sunday, and A's manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes' wrist bothered the outfielder in his final two at-bats. Cespedes is day to day. The A's are 46-29 when Cespedes starts and 12-22 when he doesn't. NOTES: The Angels optioned SS Andrew Romine to Triple-A Salt Lake to clear space for Aybar on the roster. ... Oakland SS Cliff Pennington (left elbow) was scheduled to play three more games with Triple-A Sacramento and could rejoin the A's by the weekend. ... Oakland RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.55 ERA) takes the mound opposite against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson (9-7, 3.27 ERA) on Tuesday.

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Film study: Wizards put forth best 48 minutes of defense this season

Film study: Wizards put forth best 48 minutes of defense this season

You can have effort and hustle on defense, but without smarts and proper communication, it's all just wasted energy. The Portland Trail Blazers aren't a good team record-wise, but they have two elite scorers in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who gave the Wizards fits in sweeping them last season. 

They'd recently beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers by 16 points, but the Wizards had their best defensive showing for 48 minutes of the season. 

The evidence:

The pick-and-roll action between Lillard and Mason Plumlee leaves much to be desired. Wall uses lock-and-trail technique to take away the three-point shot. Lillard gives it up to Plumlee being defended by Marcin Gortat. Markieff Morris digs in to help prevent a clean layup, forcing the ball out to Al-Farouq Aminu. Quickly, Morris jumps out to prevent the clean look by a solid three-point shooter and Gortat is behind him in support. Where Plumlee is standing during all of this, he's not a threat. As Aminu can't turn his shoulders square to the rim for a finish, he tries a pass out to Plumlee on a bad angle which makes Morris' steal an easy one.

Bradley Beal does the same on McCollum. He locks and trails around the screen from Plumlee. This technique allows the guard to recover provided he stays low, absorbs contact from screener and has support from the big to stop the ball until recovery. Unfortunately for the Blazers, Plumlee isn't a spread five. Him being this high allows Gortat double the ball and not have to vacate his spot. Beal can get the strip from behind.

Otto Porter is following Mo Harkless as he curls into the paint but doesn't allow him to turn into the rim. Lillard cuts baseline and it appears Porter is destined to collide with Wall, which creates an open look. They switch out and Lillard is forced to take a contested fade on a 6-8 small forward with long arms. This isn't a complicated play, but the kind of play earlier this season that the Wizards would defend well but not finish the possession because they'd relax thinking the play was over by stopping Harkless.

Kelly Oubre was on the ball with Lillard but gets screened off. Tomas Satoransky makes the switch, bodies up Lillard as he tries to turn the corner to the rim which slows him. Markieff Morris leaves Aminu in support to smother the ball. That's a 6-7 guard and a 6-10 big and the baseline serving as a third defender. When Lillard figures out he took it one step too deep before passing back out to Aminu, it's too late. It's a turnover. 

Meyers Leonard screens Oubre to get Lillard free vs. Gortat. Using the sideline, Gortat moves his feet and is aggressive in keeping him pinned until Oubre can recover underneath to the ball. Also see how Gortat is physical with Leonard, giving him a left stiff arm to take away any possibility that he can roll to the basket. By the time Lillard tries to shoot, the 6-7 Oubre, who has a 7-2 wingspan, is in his face to contest and it's a brick.  

Beal gets his hands out of the cookie jar, knowing Lillard likes to sweep through to force contact on his arms and draw a whistle (a smart, legal play). Anticipating he'd get that contact that never came, Lillard elevated and realized there'd be no whistle. He makes an emergency pass out to Allen Crabbe who swings it to Aminu. Also note, Oubre immediately shades Crabbe to his left hand. He doesn't dribble and finish well in that direction. Aminu goes at Morris who doesn't allow him to get to the rim or square for a decent shot. The Wizards gang rebound to get out in transition. Lillard puts up no resistance as Wall goes end to end. 

Wall stays connected to Lillard through the first screen from Jake Layman. He anticipates the pin down coming from Plumlee on the reversal and tries to go over the top, but Lillard breaks off his route and tries to cut across the lane to fill the opposite slot for a potential three. Porter switches with Wall as a result, but see what Gortat does to allow Porter to get into position. He won't allow Lillard to run freely into his spot for a catch-and-shoot. He doesn't hold him, which would be illegal, but interrupts his route. That throws off the timing and Crabbe has to send the ball back to Layman, now being covered by Wall who has to deal with a third screen set by Plumlee. He gets the strip from behind for a breakaway.

Wall hops into the ball to take away Plumlee's screen. This forces Lillard to make the read to drive away from the screen, but Gortat is there. What makes this easier – again – is Plumlee's positioning and that Lillard doesn't temper his speed. He's going too fast, rendering Plumlee a non-factor, rather than manipulating the spacing and putting pressure on the Gortat to make a decision to stop the dive or double-team the ball.  It's 1 vs. 2, a turnover and a runout for Beal.

MORE WIZARDS: AFTER BEST GAME OF CAREER, TOMAS SATORANSKY HAS HIS CONFIDENCE BACK

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

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