As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Case in point, the Mystics contest against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.To Washington Coach Trudi Lacey, the matinee affair was probably one of our best games. To the Verizon Center scoreboard, it was the latest loss in a season filled with frustration. The Mystics twice rallied from double-digit deficits before succumbing to the first place Sun, 77-70.With the two sides meeting up again in Connecticut on Wednesday, the Mystics (3-12) have an immediate opportunity to turn their perceived strong effort into a much-needed win. Of course, Washington is 0-3 against the Eastern Conference leaders this season and has lost seven straight in the series.In fairness to Lacey and some of her players who sang a similar optimistic tune in the postgame locker room, there were signs of improvement. Despite facing a Sun (13-4) frontline that counts two Olympians Tina Charles and Asjha Jones among its starters, the Mystics dominated the rebounding battle on both ends.Washington finished with a 38-23 edge, 15-3 off the offensive glass. In the first half, second-chance points accounted for half the teams 30 points and fueled an initial comeback which included taking a 39-38 lead in the third quarter. Crystal Langhorne paced five double figure scorers with 15 points while Michelle Snow had 10 points and 11 rebounds, six offensive. The Mystics doled out 17 assists on 28 made baskets. They held Connecticut to eight points in the second quarter.That was probably one of our best games. We had fifteen offensive rebounds, and we took care of the ball and distributed the ball, Lacey said.And yet, victory eluded them and annoyance showed.It gets frustrating because these teams are easily beatable. Its within us to overcome an obstacle thats making us not win these games. We just have to do it, said Matee Ajavon.The Mystics starting off-guard scored 13 points, but played only 19 minutes as Lacey turned elsewhere when a defensive presence was required.Northern Virginia native Kara Lawson scored 17 points and headlined a perimeter shooting effort that saw the Sun knock down 7 of 13 from beyond the arc. Two of those 3-pointers came from Tan White during a 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarter that turned a back-and-forth affair into a 63-52 Connecticut lead.We had a great stretch there in the third quarter that spread it out, beginning the fourth, said Lawson who made three 3s in the Suns third straight win. Tan hit some shots for us. When things arent going right for us offensively, we were able to string together some buckets and get some stops. It was a good win for us.Once again, the Mystics rallied, using a 12-4 run capped by Monique Curries bank shot to pull closer at 67-64 with 2:59 to go. However, White converted a conventional three-point play and the Sun shot 8 for 9 on free throws in the final 2:01 to seal the win. I thought down the stretch when we needed to get stops we didnt, Lacey said. We ended up putting them on the free throw line. Really, that was the difference in the game. They shot well from three, which hurt us.Following Wednesdays game, the Mystics close the first half of the season in New York on Friday before the league takes a month-long Olympic break. Washington hosts Connecticut a third time on September 4.The Sun shot well from everywhere early, making 11 straight attempts in the first quarter, four from Charles (16 points). Considering the Mystics hung tough despite that start and had a punchers chance late against a star-studded team, maybe talk of it being one of our best games is indeed fair. Of course, the scoreboard never lies.
Baltimore Orioles (70-57) vs. New York Yankees (65-61), Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, 7:05 p.m.
Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.08) vs. Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01)
Keys to the Game:
How will the Orioles do against a pitcher they haven't seen before? Cessa is the third pitcher in the last five games the Orioles haven't faced.
Can Gallardo get a win? He has just one win in his last 10 starts.
News and Notes:
Adam Jones has a cramp in his right leg, but he expects to play on Friday night.
The Orioles may make a move or two with the bullpen. Logan Ondrusek and Mike Wright could be moved out.
Starlin Castro is batting .364 (16-for-44) against Gallardo.
Gallardo is 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA in four starts against the Yankees.
Manager Dusty Baker was asked about Trea Turner's surprising strength on Thursday night and, well, his answer was a bit unexpected.
You could say things got a little weird. Baker started talking about Turner's build and his description got quite specific:
"He’s wiry-strong. You can tell by that ball he hit down the line. That’s a big man’s swing right there. He’s stronger than he appears. And he’s going to get stronger yet, when he gets his man-muscles or his man-bones or whatever you call it. Heh-heh. Cause today I tapped him on the butt, and I was like: ‘Man, you’re hard as a rock.’ And he said: ‘Well, I should be. It’s all bone.’”
Okay, then. Now, that's a quote.
Baker also described Max Scherzer's between-the-legs on Thursday night in terms that included the male anatomy:
"First time I’ve seen that. Good thing that ball didn’t hop up on him, know what I mean?”
Just another night with Dusty Baker, one of the funniest people in sports.
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Despite his team holding a comfortable division lead in the final week of August, there was plenty on the line to motivate Max Scherzer on Thursday night at Nationals Park.
He was tasked with stopping his team's four-game losing streak against a team in the Baltimore Orioles that was aiming for a four-game sweep. Going back to last season, the O's had won six consecutive games over the Nats. They had their number. They smelled blood. And because of the proximity of the team's stadiums, they had some of their friends lacing the audience dressed in orange.
The Nationals' bullpen also needed a favor. Rookie starter Reynaldo Lopez went just 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday and Tanner Roark was bounced after five the following night. Last week Nats relievers were plagued by even shorter outings from the rotation, rain delays and injuries.
Simply put, the Nationals needed Scherzer to be the ace they paid him $210 million to be. They needed 'Mad Max.'
So, Scherzer stepped out of the dugout and into the view of a sellout crowd on Thursday night with that crazed looked in his eye, that 20-strikeout, 'you'll be lucky to get any hits at all' kind of look. He was ready to be the aggressor against an Orioles lineup that is as aggressive and powerful as they come.
"They have a lot of guys that have a lot of thump in their lineup and the past three nights, I had really been watching them," Scherzer said. "I was going through my experience and really coming up with a gameplan of how I needed to pitch against them."
Scherzer used that preparation to charge out to a fantastic start with six strikeouts in his first eight at-bats. He carved up the Orioles to the tune of eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, no walks and just two hits allowed. That set the stage for just the fifth time the O's have been shut out this season.
"That’s what aces do," manager Dusty Baker said. "He shut down a very high–powered offense. There were only a couple balls hit hard off him. Had quite a few strikeouts. Boy, that was a masterful, masterful job by Max."
It was the 11th time Scherzer has posted double-digit strikeouts in a game this season, more than any other MLB pitcher. That tied the Nats club record he set himself just last year.
His 10th strikeout was against Orioles catcher Matt Wieters in the eighth inning. He then got J.J. Hardy to fly out to end the frame and his night after 95 pitches.
Scherzer had every reason to keep pushing late in his start, but there was something in the park on Thursday that gave him some extra motivation.
"I gave everything I got there in the eighth, the O's fans started making noise there in the eighth and that really kind of ticked me off. When they're sitting out there cheering at our park, I didn't like that," he said.
That, of course, was a minor consideration for Scherzer. More important to him was saving the aforementioned bullpen, which has been taxed more than any part of their roster during this current stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
"I knew I needed to pitch deep into the game tonight. Our bullpen has been taxed, and I really needed to try and get deep into the game to try and help those guys out. That was huge to get into the eighth and complete the eighth and just turn the ball over to Mark [Melancon], so that was a first and foremost thing that I knew I needed to do tonight," he said.
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