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.
Though Dusty Baker isn’t a doctor, he apparently isn’t averse to using an old school method or two to diagnose his players’ injuries.
So when Bryce Harper, ailing with a jammed left thumb, recently told his manager he was ready to return to the lineup, Baker responded by giving it a little pinch.
“He said 'Ow, what'd you do that for?' and I said 'Okay, I got my answer,'" the Nationals’ manager said with a laugh.
Baker must be comfortable with how Harper is feeling lately, as the 23-year-old right fielder is back in the lineup after four days off.
"He might have been ready to go [on Thursday],” Baker said. “So if a guy tells me he's ready, if I have a luxury, I like to give them one more day off. I just noticed that a lot of guys say they're ready and you bring them back and they're really not ready. I would prefer that you be champing at the bit to get back [instead] of a person to just say that you're ready.
Prior to the injury, the reigning NL MVP had hits in five of his previous seven games. So with three games left, the Nats are hoping the reigning Harper can get back in a groove before the postseason begins next week.
Zimmerman a platoon bat? It’s a question that seemed unfathomable on Opening Day, but the veteran first baseman’s 2016 inconsistency-filled odyssey has some wondering if Baker might consider other options come October. The answer, for now, is no.
“That hasn’t crossed my mind,” the skipper said.
Clint Robinson is starting at first in Friday night’s game against the Miami Marlins, but the move doesn’t appear to be a sign of things to come. Baker said the decision was merely to keep Zimmerman healthy and afford Robinson some at-bats while he can get them. Still, for an offense will be without Wilson Ramos (and a fully-healthy Daniel Murphy), the lineup will need a boost where it can get it.
“I don’t really believe in platoon, platoon," Baker said. "There’s certain guys that I feel that Clint may have a better chance of being successful against. But that’s not a platoon for me.”
In other words, Baker is staunchly in Zimmerman’s corner. And slowly but surely, the 31-year-old has been rewarding his manager's faith. Zimmerman has hits in six out of his last nine games, including a trio of two-hit efforts. It might be too late to salvage his career-worst .219 average, but the Nats still believe the one-time face of the franchise will show up when it counts the most.
"I just keep in mind with Zim that ‘hey, man, you can be the man for a long period of time like we know that you’ve done,’" Baker said. "We’ve seen him do it before. So we need Zim. We need him badly.”
NEW YORK—Michael Bourn has brought a new dimension to the Orioles. In the absence of Joey Rickard, Bourn has brought speed and defense.
Bourn has stolen bases in the last two games.
“It helps. Mike’s got 10 years in the big leagues. He’s been in some playoff situations,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Bourn was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 31, and he’s been very useful.
“He’s not afraid,” Showalter said. “You’ve got to have that attitude.”
Bourn has played all three outfield positions.
“He knows what he’s supposed to bring, and he’s going to try and bring it. He’s going to let it rip. He’s got a little richer pedigree than some people might give him credit for,” Showalter said.
Bourn, who the National League in steals from 2009-11, has also played for Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta and Cleveland. He played in the Division Series for the Phillies in 2007 and wild-card games for the Braves and Indians in 2012 and 2013.
Before coming to the Orioles, Bourn played for the Diamondbacks, who were not in contention. He seems reenergized by the trade. In 21 games with the Orioles, Bourn is batting .250 with two home runs and six RBIs.
“Of course you would think so,” Showalter said. “He’s a guy you’d like to keep around. He’s more than a fourth outfielder.”
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