Why Kevin Na was booed on the golf course

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Why Kevin Na was booed on the golf course

From Comcast SportsNet
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Kevin Na was booed, taunted and heckled on nearly every hole. The 28-year-old South Korean native even had one spectator tell him he "better not choke" because he had money riding on him. Na dealt with it best he could, and even though he felt rushed at times, he never chastised fans at The Players Championship for his Sunday slide in the final round. He blamed himself, just as he has all week for his countless waggles and his painfully slow pace. Na closed with a 4-over 76, falling from first to a three-way tie for seventh and becoming the latest 54-hole leader to falter at the treacherous TPC Sawgrass. The third-round leader hasn't won The Players since it moved from March to May in 2007. "I deserve it," said Na, who finished at 8-under 280 -- five strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar. "I mean, I'm being honest. But is it fair? No. You put an average guy in between those ropes, trust me, they won't pull back." Na faded early, too. He bogeyed four of final five holes on the front and wasn't much better on the back. When it was clear he was out of contention, Na hurried between shots in hopes of trying not to slow down playing partner Kuchar. Some fans showed considerably less respect. "It is what it is," Na said. "I do need to work on what I need to. I do need to work on my pre-shot routine. I do need to play faster. But the average golfer has no clue how much pressure we're playing under and how tough it is and how much of a fight it is mentally. I honestly think with all that going on, I did pretty well fighting. I had a good fight. I hung in there, so you know what, I just take the positives from it." Na took hundreds of waggles as he set up over the ball, backed off the shot if he didn't feel comfortable and a couple of times purposely missed so he could start over. Long known as one of the slowest players on tour, Na attributes his bizarre routine to a swing change. Nonetheless, fans showed little compassion. Things got really ugly on the par-4 sixth. "We had a clown on the sixth hole come up and say, after we just made bogey on five, he said, I've got 2,000; you better not start choking,'" said Na's caddie, Kevin Harms. "This is a game of etiquette. It's not basketball. It's not football. Show come class. There's no reason to do that to anybody. "It's not like he's doing it on purpose. He feels more bad about it than anyone else, I can promise you that. He's doing everything he can to get faster." On the par-5 ninth, Na even backed off his tee after hearing some boos. After he pulled his tee shot in the water on the par-3 13th, some fans started singing, "Nah, nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey, hey, hey, goodbye." "You know, when I'm over the ball, it would be nice if it was quiet," Na said. "But just guys, you can hear them talking, like, Pull the trigger, pull the trigger, hit it,' which makes me back off even more. So that part was a bit tough." Kuchar said he didn't notice the taunts. "I did not hear as much as heckling," Kuchar said. "We talked a little bit about the Na last name and how many different versions he must here of nah, nah, nah, nah' or just different plays on his last name. So he said he's pretty much heard everything, had a few giggles at some." Regardless, Na plans to address his pre-shot problems in the future. But it's not likely to happen anytime soon. "I'm going to try to take out the whole waggle, no waggle," he said. "I'm going to try to do a little up and down behind the ball, but it's going to take time, practice and tournaments, and I'm going to try to take out the whole waggle. Honestly, it's going to be a battle."

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Even Tanner Roark can't stop Nats' struggles against Orioles

Even Tanner Roark can't stop Nats' struggles against Orioles

The Nationals may need to lobby for a new partner in Major League Baseball's annual regional rivalry matchup.

Because the Baltimore Orioles just keep having their way with their neighbors from the south. With the Nats' 10-8 loss on Wednesday night, they are now 6-17 against the Orioles since the start 2012 and have lost six straight going back to last year. 

Baltimore has been good over the last five years, but so have the Nationals. For some reason they match up poorly against the O's, no matter what direction each team is trending when they take the field.

The Orioles, for instance, had lost five of six and and nine of 14 before hosting the Nats in the opener on Monday night. The Nats weren't exactly on fire heading into Monday, but they had won six of nine and just took three of four at the Atlanta Braves. 

Even on Wednesday, with the Nats heading home and sending Tanner Roark to the mound, their luck did not improve. Roark has been their most consistent pitcher all year, their stopper at times. The Orioles, though, chased him after five innings with five runs - four earned - on seven hits, three walks and three hit batters, tying a career-high for Roark.

The walks and hit batters were a good indication that Roark was simply not his usual self. He was trying to pitch around the Orioles' big bats and ended up costing himself.

“Just lack of focus," Roark said. "I know I needed to get inside on these guys and make them feel uncomfortable at the plate. They have the most home runs in all of baseball so you got to make it known that your going to come inside. That’s the name of the game for pitching and as a starter you have to establish inside."

That he did not and the Orioles pounded him early. The first big strike was a two-run homer by Manny Machado, his 29th of the season. Another run came home when Matt Wieters was hit with the bases loaded. One more scored on a J.J. Hardy sacrifice fly.

Machado blasted a 92 mile per hour two-seamer - Roark's signature pitch - deep into the stands in left field. Afterwards, Roark explained the challenge of facing Machado, who is now 27-for-69 (.391) with four homers and 12 RBI in 17 career games vs. the Nationals.

“He can hit the ball all over the field. He’s a good hitter. Like any good hitter you got to make him feel uncomfortable. I didn’t do that the first two at-bats," Roark said.

The second at-bat for Machado also brought in a run, one of his four RBI on the night. That was a single to center field in the second inning to score Adam Jones, who reached on an error. That run went down as unearned for Roark one of two errors for the Nats on the night.

Machado was the main culprit in what amounted to a rare off-night for Roark. It was just the fifth time in 26 starts this year he hasn't gone at least six innings. He's gone at least seven in 15 of those outings.

The Orioles win a lot of games behind their offense, but their bullpen is also a big part of their equation. Though Parker Bridwell and Zach Britton ended up making matters interesting by allowing five runs in the ninth, Orioles relievers got numerous key outs on Wednesday to hold the Nats at bay.

Mychal Givens got three straight outs in the sixth after the Nats got two men in scoring position to lead off the frame. He struck out Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman and also got Wilson Ramos to pop out. Givens got into some trouble in the seventh, but Donnie Hart struck out Bryce Harper with runners on the corners to end the frame.

Zimmerman explained what made Givens - one of Baltimore's best relievers - so tough.

“He throws sidearm 97. It seems like all the guys they have throw like that. I don’t know where they get them from. But he made good pitches," Zimmerman said.

The Nationals will now hope to avoid a four-game sweep in the season series on Thursday night with Max Scherzer on the mound. Scherzer is an ace and would seemingly give the Nats a good chance to end their skid against the Orioles. Then again, the same could have been said about Roark before Wednesday night.

[RELATED: Olympian Katie Ledecky visits Nats Park, players enthralled with medals]

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Machado's 4 RBIs help Orioles win 3rd straight over Nats

Machado's 4 RBIs help Orioles win 3rd straight over Nats

WASHINGTON—The Orioles looked like they had easily won their third straight game against the Nationals. Taking a two-run lead to the eighth, the Orioles added five runs, and had a 10-3 advantage heading to the bottom of the ninth. 

Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam home run off rookie Parker Bridwell, and suddenly it was 10-3, and Zach Britton was in the game. 

Britton gave up an earned run, his first since Apr. 30, a total of 43 games and 44 1/3 innings, then tried to get Anthony Rendon at second on a grounder to the mound by Wilson Ramos.

When that failed, the tying run was on, and Ryan Zimmerman was up. 

Britton got a double play, the long game was over, and so was his streak. 

The Orioles’ 10-8 win over Washington before a sellout crowd of 39,100 at Nationals Park, was their third straight, and Britton, who didn’t earn a save because he came in with a three-run lead without the tying run on base, at bat or on deck, and didn’t pitch an inning, still has his saves streak intact. 

“I was a little bit caught off guard, but I felt pretty good once I got in the game. Just everything that happened—the home run by Murphy, get going. I just really didn’t make good pitches tonight, really, all the way through. I think I threw maybe one good pitch, and that was about it,” Britton said. 

“I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was just thinking about needing to make some good pitches. I was getting frustrated, but it happens. A bad outing. I’ve had plenty. You’ve just got to execute pitches there. They’re a good hitting team, and right off the bat, I just didn’t make any good pitches. I just need to keep the ball down, and I wasn’t able to. I got fortunate even on the double play ball, it wasn’t crisp but I got fortunate right there.”

Britton was able to ensure that Wade Miley got his first win with the Orioles in his fifth game. 

Miley, was 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in his first four starts. He allowed two runs on seven hits in five-plus innings. 

“Right now this time of the year it may be important for us because we’re some thin ranks right now and we need all our healthy pitchers to do what they’re capable of doing. There’s not much margin for error as we go forward here with 30-some games left,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Miley had help from Manny Machado, who had four hits and four RBIs. 

“We know it’s going to be a battle. They’re a great team over there and they’re not just going to give up. We knew that. It’s just a matter of the time. They haven’t been swinging the bat like they have been, and we’ve finally clicked a little bit,” Machado said. 

The Orioles (70-56) quickly gave Miley (8-10) a 4-0 lead. Machado hit a two-run home run. Chris Davis doubled, Mark Trumbo walked, and Tanner Roark (13-7) hit Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters with pitches to score Davis. Trumbo scored on J.J. Hardy’s fly to center.

It could have been worse, but Trea Turner made a terrific sliding catch on Adam Jones’ liner to start the game. 

Washington (73-53) got a run back in the bottom of the first on Anthony Rendon’s RBI double. 

Jones began the second with an infield single, and he took second on Murphy’s error. Machado’s single gave the Orioles a 5-1 lead. 

Danny Espinosa’s 20th home run of the year in the fifth made it 5-2. 

Mychal Givens, who came on with runners on second and third in the sixth, got the next three outs, and struck out Espinosa in the seventh. Pinch hitter Ben Revere doubled, and Turner tied a franchise record with his eighth straight hit, a single.

Werth fouled to Davis, and tossed his bat away, as Donnie Hart came into face Murphy, who singled to score Revere, but struck out Bryce Harper. 

“It was good. As a competitor, this is a situation that you wanted to be in, I was kind of hoping and wishing that the phone rings and he calls my name,” Hart said. 

Machado’s fourth RBI, a single to right, scored Kim, and the Orioles moved ahead 6-3 in the eighth. 

In eight games at Nationals Park, Machado is batting .472 (17-for-36) with three homers and nine RBIs. 

Schoop added an RBI single, and Wieters hit his 11th home run, a three-run shot, to center field for a five-run inning off Blake Treinen and a 10-3 lead. 

“Ultimately we would have loved to keep Zach out of the game, so every run’s important, but getting a win is the most important thing,” Wieters said. 

 

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Nats can't complete rally as they drop third straight to Orioles

Nats can't complete rally as they drop third straight to Orioles

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 10-8 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night at Nats Park.

How it happened: It appears the Nationals won’t be earning regional bragging right this year.

After dropping two games to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, the Nats were hoping for some home cooking as the series headed to D.C. They didn’t get it. Instead, they dropped their third straight to the Birds, and fourth overall.

What made Wednesday night particularly disappointing was the uncharacteristic performance of Tanner Roark, who entered the game as perhaps the Nats’ most consistent starting pitcher. From the very first batter, it was apparent the 29-year-old right hander didn’t look like himself. He allowed six of the first seven hitters to reach base, yielding a first-inning four-spot that was highlighted by Manny Machado’s two-run home run.   

The Nats countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, but the Birds reestablished their four-run lead on a Machado RBI single in the second inning to make it 5-1.

From there, Roark settled down a bit, stretching an otherwise laborious outing to five innings. In the meantime, the Nats weren’t able to get to Orioles starter Wade Miley, who limited Washington to one run over five-plus innings.  

The Nats clawed back with a run in the fifth and another in the seventh, but Baltimore did enough to keep the game out of reach. Machado struck again in the eighth inning, tacking on an insurance run with an RBI single to extend the Orioles lead to 6-3. A few batters later, Matt Wieters delivered what looked like finishing blow as he drilled a three-run shot to center field to make it 10-3. 

But the Nats wouldn’t go down without a fight. After a ninth-inning grand slam by Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon soon followed with an RBI double against Orioles closer Zach Britton. However, with two men on for Ryan Zimmerman, Britton induced the game-ending double play.

What it means: The Nats losing skid is now at four, which combined with the Miami Marlins’ win Wednesday night means their NL East lead is down to seven games.

Roark struggles: To put Wednesday night’s uneven outing in perspective, consider this: Roark had allowed four runs combined over his last three starts — and he yielded that many in the first inning alone. His command was clearly off, which is never a good thing against an Orioles lineup that is known to score in bunches. In all, he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits over five innings while throwing 111 pitches. That’s not a typical Roark start, putting extra stress on an already-taxed bullpen.  

Turner’s historic streak: To watch a Nats game these days is to wonder what Trea Turner will do next. The 23-year-old rookie speedster has done nothing but impress in his first taste of everyday action in the big leagues. And on this night, he etched his name into the franchise record books. Turner notched his eighth hit in his as many at-bats over the last two games, which tied Dmitri Young and Andre Dawson for the Nationals/Expos record. Not bad. Not bad at all. 

Up next: The Nats will look to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of their Beltway rivals in Thursday night’s series finale. They'll send ace Max Scherzer (13-7, 3.05 ERA) to the mound, who will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.94 ERA).