Nats set to face inconsistent Wainwright

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Nats set to face inconsistent Wainwright

With 2012 Cy Young candidate Kyle Lohse having pitched in the N.L. Wild Card game, the St. Louis Cardinals will trot out right-hander Adam Wainwright against the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS. Wainwright was once one of the games best young pitchers, but returned this season from Tommy John surgery and has yet to regain his form as an ace.

Wainwright missed all of the 2011 season due to the surgery and watched from the dugout as the Cardinals won the World Series without him. He had finished in the top three of National League Cy Young voting in the previous two seasons and their victory without him was a testament to their organizational depth.

Wainwright finished 2012 with a winning record and a sub-4.00 ERA despite struggling for much of the year. The Cardinals showed great patience in sticking with him after a terrible start to the season. Wainwright allowed at least four earned runs in four of his first seven starts and sat 2-4 with a 6.16 ERA on May 12.

The 31-year-old saved his season by going 7-3 with a 2.75 ERA through July and August. Still, over the course of this season he has shown he isnt the same dominant pitcher he once was.

The differences in the old Wainwright and the new one lie in pitch selection. Wainwright has adjusted to throw more off-speed pitches after a slight dip in velocity with a career low fastball usage at 41.8.

Wainwright uses a cut fastball now much more than he did in the past, throwing it 14.2 of the time. His primary breaking ball is the curveball, which he uses for almost a quarter of pitches.

In 2012, when Wainwright won he was dominant and when he lost it was at times ugly. In losses this season Wainwright allowed 56 earned runs in 69.0 innings, good for a 7.30 ERA. In games he won Wainwright held a 1.94 ERA with just 13 walks in 97.2 innings pitched.

Wainwrights two starts against the Nationals in many ways exemplified his season as one was great and one was quite the opposite.

On August 31 the Nationals handed Wainwright one of his worst starts of the season and it came in the middle of perhaps his hottest stretch. Wainwright had allowed two runs or less in eight consecutive starts before a complete disaster in Washington. The Nationals dropped six runs in 2 23 innings before Wainwright was yanked as he earned his 11th loss of the season in a 10-0 blowout at Nationals Park.

Wainwright rebounded nicely against the Nationals at Busch Stadium in his final start of the season. He worked six innings of one run ball and set the Cardinals up for an eventual 12-2 victory. The right-hander allowed just six men on base in his 14th win of the season.

His solid showing against the Nationals was a nice close to his regular season after a rough month of September overall. Wainwright had allowed at least four earned runs in three of his previous five starts.

The Nationals will face Wainwright where he had his best start against them and where he fared better for much of the season. Wainwright went 10-6 with a 3.73 ERA in St. Louis, markedly better than his 4-7, 4.20 line on the road.

One thing that may work in the Nationals favor is the fact that Wainwright hasnt pitched since seeing them on the 28th. He was much better this season on four or five days of rest as with at least six days off between starts he posted a 5.21 ERA in three games.

Wainwright missed the postseason last year, but has appeared in ten playoff games in his career. He has one career postseason start, an eight-inning outing against the Dodgers in the 2009 NLDS. Wainwright allowed just one earned run on a homer to Andre Ethier in the game, but the Dodgers ended up winning in the second game of their three game sweep.

The Nationals have had mixed results against Wainwright this year, but the pitcher may have the advantage at home if his 2012 stats hold up. But looking at how inconsistent he has been overall, they may know early which Wainwright has shown up for Game 1.

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Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

BALTIMORE—For years, the Orioles have watched Adam Jones win games with big hits, superlative catches and wonderful throws. On Monday night, they watched him win it in little ways. 

There was the RBI single on a ball he seemed merely to tap in the second inning. Then, there was the infield out in the seventh that tied the score, and finally, it was Jones scoring the winning run in the ninth when a former teammate couldn’t handle a rush throw on a simple grounder back to the mound.

Jones’ little ball proved to be big as the Orioles extended their winning streak to five games, and moved a season-high 18 games over .500 with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies in 10 innings before 19,361 at Oriole Park. 

It was the second straight time the Orioles won a game in their last at-bat. 

In the bottom of the 10th, Jones led off with a single off Jordan Lyles (2-3). He raced to third on Jonathan Schoop’s single to right and scored when Manny Machado grounded back to the box.  Lyles bobbled the ball for a moment and Colorado catcher Nick Hundley couldn’t handle Lyles’ throw home, and Jones scored the winning run.

“Adam takes a lot of pride in being an all-around player and he is,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Jones wasn’t being particular about socring.

“It doesn't matter how you score. As long as you win the game, that's all that matters,” Jones said. 

Jones made his way from first to third on Schoop’s single, and that was big, too.

“That's called pride. Play the game hard, man.  I can run. It's a situation where we need a guy on third base. I'm going to bust my tail to get there.”
 
Chaz Roe (1-0) pitched the 10th for the win. Mychal Givens and Zach Britton retired the seven batters they faced. 

For the second straight game, Yovani Gallardo pitched into the seventh inning. He allowed two runs on five hits as the Orioles starters continue to pitch deep into games. In five of the last six, starters haven’t gotten outs in the seventh inning, something that wasn’t seen very much earlier in the season.

“The thing is, maybe we’re being more aggressive. I know that for myself. That’s what I’ve tried to do, the last two games, and the pitch count shows it. I’m being a little bit more aggressive with my first pitch and getting guys to swing the bat,” Gallardo said. “We all feed off of one another. I think it’s always a big help to have the guy in front of you go deep in the ballgame, and try to do the same thing or even better. It’s always a friendly competition, and that’s going to help and benefit in the long run as a team. You’ve just got to keep moving forward, stay consistent and hopefully we’ll do something.”\

RELATED: COULD JIMENEZ START FOR O'S ON THURSDAY?

Gallardo allowed a home run to Nolan Arenado to lead off the fourth. 

In the second, J.J. Hardy scored on Jones’ single to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. 

With two outs in the seventh, David Dahl, playing his first major league game, singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. 
After a prolonged at-bat, Mark Reynolds singled up the middle to score Dahl. That gave Colorado (47-52) a 2-1 lead. 

The Orioles (58-40) tied it at 2 in the bottom of the seventh. Reimold was hit by a pitch with one out. He moved to third on Dariel Alvarez’s double, his first hit of the season. Jones grounded to short, scoring Reimold. 

Last week, the Orioles were sick with the flu and had an awful time in New York before winning the final game of the four-game series. 

“We lost three straight and it was kind of like an apocalypse was happening here, so we're just grinding it out every day, happy with the results we're getting,” Jones said. 

NOTES: After the game, the Orioles optioned Dariel Alvarez to Norfolk. Hyun Soo Kim will presumably be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Kim was 2-for-4 with a single and home run in his second rehab game at Bowie. He played six innings in left field. …The Orioles have five winning streaks of at least five games this season. … Jones passed Rafael Palmeiro for seventh place on the team’s RBI list with 703. … Reimold reached after manager Buck Showalter asked for a replay. The Orioles have now been successful on 13 of their 23 replay challenges this season, and their last five straight. … Chad Bettis (8-6, 5.31) faces Chris Tillman (14-2, 3.18) on Tuesday night. … Temperature at game time was 95 degrees, highest for a game this season. … Davis is 0-for-21.

MORE ORIOLES: WIETERS BACK IN ORIOLES LINEUP

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Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

The concussion suffered last year by Rams quarterback Case Keenum against the Ravens, and the way it was handled, surely played a part in new punishment announced Monday by the NFL for teams violating the league’s concussion protocol.

The Players Association and the league made a joint announcement about the new standards.

Under the new policy, teams could be fined anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocol, or suffer loss of draft picks. For a second violation, the minimum fine will be $100,000.

Major concerns about enforcing in-game concussion protocol were raised during a November game last year at M&T Bank Stadium between the Rams and Ravens.

With just over a minute left to play, Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan sacked Keenum, and the back of his head slammed violently against the turf. Keenum held his head while lying on the ground and initially had trouble getting to his feet.  

The Rams’ athletic trainer ran onto the field to check on Keenum, but he remained in the game. Keenum fumbled two plays later, and after the game, it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

The league investigated the Rams’ handling of the situation and the team was not fined. However, not everyone was satisfied, including NFLPA president Eric Winston.

“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing,”’ Winston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year. “They didn’t. Everybody knows they didn’t.  So there has to be discipline, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”

As a result, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed on punishment that could help protect players who have been concussed.

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Two ex-Wizards face legal trouble

Two ex-Wizards face legal trouble

Becomng the latest focus of a TMZ scoop isn't a good thing. Two former Wizards -- Glen Rice Jr. and DeJuan Blair -- made their onto the site Monday.

Rice, a 2013 second round pick who played parts of two seasons with Washington, was arrested for robbery Monday. From TMZ:

More trouble for ex-NBA player Glen Rice Jr. -- the 25-year-old was arrested for robbery Monday morning in Georgia ... less than a year after he was shot in a bizarre gunfight at T.I.'s restaurant. 
Here's what we know ... Rice was booked at 6:37 AM this morning for felony robbery, aggravated battery and possession of marijuana. He has since been released from custody. 
The details surrounding the incident are unclear -- we're working on it. 
By the way, Rice just completed a pre-trial intervention program stemming from the 2015 shooting incident. 
As we previously reported, Rice was arrested -- after he was shot in the leg -- when cops say he was carrying 240 grams of weed and a bunch of cash. He was charged with weed and gun possession. 
Unclear if this new arrest will affect that case. 

Rice played 16 career games for Washington with the five during the 2014-15 season.

Blair signed with the Wizards in 2014 and remained with the franchise until February when he was shipped to Phoenix in the deal for Markieff Morris. The Suns quickly released the big man, who remains a free agent. 

None of that involves the mention here. From TMZ Sports:

NBA player DeJuan Blair -- who played for the Washington Wizards last season -- was cited for misdemeanor battery against a woman at a Vegas club this weekend ... TMZ Sports has learned.

Las Vegas Metro PD has confirmed ... officers were called to Drai's nightclub at The Cromwell around 1 AM Sunday morning to respond to a report of a man who allegedly got physical with a woman.

The alleged victim told police ... she was arguing with Blair over the line into the club when he picked her up and tossed her off to the side. The woman was pissed and retaliated by striking him back -- before calling for help.  

Sources tell us ... when cops arrived they checked security video and decided there was enough evidence to issue a citation to Blair for misdemeanor battery. He was NOT arrested. 

However, cops tell TMZ Sports Blair was also issued a "trespassing warning" from the property and told to leave immediately.  

The TMZ report cited a source that claims Blair "simply moved her out of the way when he was trying to get by her. Nothing more." The report also said the alledged victim is considering a lawsuit against Blair.