Nationals re-sign left-hander Zach Duke

Nationals re-sign left-hander Zach Duke

After spending most of this year in the minors Zach Duke pitched well for the Nationals as a September call-up and Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports they’ve re-signed the left-hander to a major-league deal. Prior to joining the Nationals’ bullpen down the stretch Duke had been starting at Triple-A and 168 of his…

Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

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Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Taylor Chorney played in place of Dmitry Orlov in Game 2 on Saturday night and he may be thrust into action again for Game 3 if Brooks Orpik is suspended by the NHL for his hit to defenseman Olli Maatta.

In the first period, Maatta took the puck in the offensive zone and shot on Holtby from the face off circle. As he began turning he received a high hit from Orpik and sent him to the ice. The play came several seconds after Maatta had already released the puck.

You can watch the play here.

Maatta had to be helped off the ice and did not return. Orpik was assessed a two-minute minor for interference. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was very critical of the hit following the game.

"I thought it was a late hit," Sullivan said. "I thought it was a target to his head. I think it's the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game."

RELATED: Orpik may face discipline after Game 2 hit

Barry Trotz said he talked to Orpik about the hit who explained to him that he thought the rebound from Maatta's original shot was going back to Maatta which is why he chose to follow through on the hit. The Caps' coach defended Orpik, but said they would respect the league's decision if there was any supplemental disciline.

"We'll let the league handle it," Trotz said. "If you know anything about Brooks, he plays had, he plays clean. He's not a dirty player."

If a suspension is forthcoming, Trotz will again have to dip into his team's defensive depth.

After a miscue by Orlov in Game 1 led to a Penguins' goal, Trotz benched Orlov for much of the third period and then elected to dress Chorney for Game 2.

As a former Penguin, Chorney brought experience to the lineup as he suited up against his former teammates. He made one of the defensive plays of the game as he was able to catch Bryan Rust on a breakaway and sweep away the puck without taking a penalty.

Overall, Chorney said he was satisfied with his performance on Saturday.

"It felt good. It's fun to get in there and play in an environment like that, playing at home against a real good team like Pittsburgh. ... It's good experience to get out there and compete against those guys. It would have been nice to get a better result, but overall I think it went pretty well."

Heading into the playoffs, defensive depth was considered a strength for the Caps as the team carried eight blueliners on the roster. Having bodies you can plug into the lineup is one thing, but defensive depth doesn't mean much if the coach doesn't trust the players on the bottom of the depth chart.

Through the first period, Chorney had only 2:44 of ice time while his partner, Nate Schmidt, had 2:28. Matt Niskanen, by comparison, had 9:25. Chorney finished the game with 10:50 of ice time total.

Trotz praised Chorney's play after the game saying but the lack of playing time for the third pairing seems to suggest the Caps coach may not have much faith in his third defensive pairing.

That's not a knock on Chorney specifically as both Schmidt and Orlov have spent some extended time on the bench during games this postseason. Now with Orpik's status in doubt, there's a good chance we could see both Chorney and Orlov in the lineup for Game 3.

Losing Orpik is a prospect the Caps have grown used to this season as the veteran blueliner missed 41 games in the regular season. He also missed the final three games of the series against Philadelphia with an upper-body injury.

The stakes, however, have never been as high as they are now. The opponent has never been as tough.

Trotz has clearly given his third defensive pairing protected minutes throughout the playoffs and has been able to do so thanks to a solid top four and an opponent in Philadelphia that is lacking in offensive skill. A possible suspension to Orpik with the series tied 1-1 heading into Pittsburgh, however, will put the Caps' defensive depth to the ultimate test.

MORE CAPITALS: Former Capital sinks Washington in Game 2

A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

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A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

Watch CSN's segment about 'Dearest Abigail' on #CapitalsTalk in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.

Marcus Johansson showed up to Verizon Center for Game 2 between the Capitals and Penguins wearing what looked like a coat fit for a Civil War general. So CSN's Capitals account took it from there, playing off of a long-standing meme featuring Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. 

Thus was created General Marcus Johansson and "Dearest Abigail".

To begin the game:

We got an assist from the folks at Capitals Hill: 

After the first period:

After the Capitals' disallowed goal: 

After Johansson's goal to tie the game, 1-1: 

After Eric Fehr's goal lifted Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win: 

Others chimed in throughout:

Rest assured, Capitals fans. General Johansson will be back for Game 3.

Britton hurt as Orioles lose bizarre 8-7 game to Chicago

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Britton hurt as Orioles lose bizarre 8-7 game to Chicago

BALTIMORE—On a bizarre night, where the Orioles nearly hit into a replay-induced triple play and saw their magnificent defense and bullpen cost them a game, their most critical reliever was forced to leave with a sprained left ankle. 

When Zach Britton tried to field a bunt from Chicago’s Adam Eaton, he injured his ankle, leaving the go-ahead run on base. Britton’s replacement, Vance Worley allowed the run to score, and the Orioles had suffered a deflating 8-7 loss to the White Sox before 29,152 at Oriole Park on Saturday night. 

Britton (1-1) wasn’t available to comment on his injury, but manager Buck Showalter was hopeful the injury wasn’t a serious one.

“We’ll see how it is tomorrow,” Showalter said. “He jammed it more than rolled it…The proverbial day to day. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Zach’s always been a pretty quick healer, so we’ll see.”

If Britton is lost for any length of time, Darren O’Day would probably assume his role as closer. O’Day allowed three runs in the eighth inning to give Chicago (16-9) a 7-5 lead. 

The Orioles (14-9), who had their three-game winning streak snapped, tied the score at 7 in the bottom of the eighth.

Mychal Givens inherited a 5-3 lead and gave up a run in the seventh.

“Poor performance by the bullpen, myself obviously,” O’Day said. “It wasn’t good by us. I left a lot of pitches over the middle of the plate. When that happens, you’re going to give up hits.” 

Britton anchors a strong bullpen, but even without him, the Orioles still have O’Day, Givens, Brad Brach and Dylan Bundy.  

“I think Zach’s the best in the game, so it would be a tough period without him. We’ve got guys that have done the job before. So, yeah, it was a bad night, but if you look at the body of work we’ve put together, we have a lot of confidence. So we’ll figure something out,” O’Day said. 

In the bottom of the third, with the Orioles trailing 3-1. Hyun Soo Kim doubled down the right field line. Manny Machado reached on an infield single to short while Kim held. 

Jones grounded to third as Todd Frazier forced Kim at third and threw to second baseman Brett Lawrie to force Machado. 

Chicago manager Robin Ventura argued that Machado had interfered with Lawrie, and he couldn’t throw to first in an attempt to get Jones. 

After a delay of 3:29, the call stood, and the White Sox’s attempt at a triple play failed. Ventura was ejected after he disputed the decision.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of argument if they had overturned it, to be honest with you. If they had called him out at first,” Showalter said. 

“Manny just got a little over-aggressive. Where we got fortunate is they didn’t attempt to turn the ball over to first base and didn’t feel like it impacted the play, I guess.

The Orioles trailed by two because Machado and Jonathan Schoop each committed an error in the third, leading to two runs, but that was nearly forgotten by the ninth.

After Worley came in, he walked Carlos Sanchez and gave up an RBI single to Jose Abreu.

Showalter, whose team finished the month with nine wins in 11 games, bemoaned the cold, wet conditions the Orioles have faced at home. 

“We’ve been playing in this slop for a while,” Showalter said. 

Nate Jones (2-0) retired the final four Orioles for the win. 

The Orioles had 14 hits. Kim and Pedro Alvarez each had three. Alvarez had his first home run with the Orioles, and Kim watched his batting average reach .600. He’s 9-for-15. 

Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones each had two hits, and Schoop hit his fourth home run. 

Kevin Gausman left with a 4-3 lead. He allowed two earned runs on four hits in six innings in his second start of the season.

I obviously wanted to go back out there, but it’s a long season,” Gausman said. “Hopefully, next time out, I can do that. Right now, I respect [Showalter’s] opinion to take me out right there. I felt good. Once you go six innings, you don’t want to jump to seven right away. Getting through six was good.”

The Orioles touched Mat Latos, who entered the game with a dazzling 0.74 ERA, for four runs on 11 hits in five innings. 

NOTES: Joey Rickard didn’t start for the first time, but he came into the game as a defensive replacement for Trumbo in the eighth. … Chris Sale (5-0, 1.66) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 3.91) on Sunday.