Final second proving worst second for Mystics

782184.png

Final second proving worst second for Mystics

Analysis of the Washington Mystics last six quarters indicates theoverhauled roster is starting to gel, the overall play improved.However, their last second defensive execution as in literally, the finalsecond - needs some work.The Mystics (1-3) enter Sundays road contest against the Connecticut Sun(3-1) having lost two straight games just before the game clock ran out. On Friday night, Washington led Chicago by eight points with less than threeminutes remaining and 63-58 with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Two turnoversand a missed shot later the lead was no more. With the game tied, Sky centerSylvia Fowles scored the game-winning layup with 0.2 seconds as the Mysticsfell 65-63. That stomach-punch of a setback came after Wednesday's similarly ill-fatedresult against reigning WNBA champion Minnesota. The Mystics rallied from 24points down at home and led twice in the closing minutes before allowing theLynx a put back with one second remaining.There is a positive spin to offer, especially after opening the season withtwo subpar outings even though one came in a win. The ferocious second halfrally against the Lynx nearly turned epic and the effort carried over forstretches against the Sky. Of course, so did the losing."We're getting better. We just had some breakdowns at the end of thegame, Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne told reporters following the loss tothe Sky. We were up six, eight points. We just needed to close the game atthat point but we didn't."After starting the season with a week gap between their first two games,Sundays tilt will be the Mystics third in five days. Getting Langhorne, theMystics leading scorer last season, more involved in the offense would go along way toward getting a win against the potent Sun. Last season Washington lost all four games to itsEastern Conference rival.The all-star forward scored 12 points against the Sky and has reached doublefigures in all four games this season. However, Langhornes 13.5 points pergame average is nearly five points below her 2011 average and ranks third onthe team this season.Even though the former University of Maryland star didnt pass the buckregarding her down production -things aren't going well for me Langhornesfield goal and free throw percentages are in line with her career numbers.Instead, look to her number of shots as an indicator. Last season, Langhorneaveraged 13.7 field goal attempts per game. This season, 9.5. The Sun are having no problem getting the ball to their top three scorers,all former University of Connecticut stars. Center Tina Charles averages adouble-double with 20.5 points and 11 rebounds while guard Renee Montgomery(16.3) and forward Asjha Jones (14.0) handle the perimeter production. Despite receiving 20 and 12 from Charles on Friday, the Sun fell to 85-72 athome game to the undefeated Lynx.Monique Currie, out most of the 2011 season with a knee injury, scored ateam-high 15 points against Chicago and leads Washington in scoring this seasonwith 14.3 points.

Quick Links

Orioles pitching continues to go south in loss to Yankees

yankees82716.png
USA TODAY Sports

Orioles pitching continues to go south in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK—After the Orioles returned from their longest road trip of the season with a 5-5 record, many of the teams’ fans were relieved. 

The Orioles were just a half-game out of first place, and the schedule was full of home games and lots of contests against American League East teams. 

It’s changed drastically in the past 12 games. The Orioles have lost eight of those games, and on Saturday, it was a 13-5 loss to the rejuvenated New York Yankees before 38,843 at Yankee Stadium.

Three times this season, the Orioles have given up 10 or more runs in consecutive games, and in the first two games of this series, they’ve given up 27 runs and 36 hits. 

It’s the first time they’ve allowed at least 18 hits in consecutive games since Aug. 11-12, 1993, and their ERA in the last 11 games is a frightful 8.23.

“It’s just not going for us. Nothing really, really to it. Just not getting any hits, clean hits. Just outhitting us. They’re doing what they need to be doing, and we’re not. Nothing’s falling for us. No excuses,” Manny Machado said. 

Dylan Bundy (7-5) allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings. T.J. McFarland, in his first game in nearly two months, gave up four on a pair of two-run homers in two-thirds of an inning, and the normally reliable Mychal Givens gave up three runs while retiring just one batter.

Givens allowed the first five New York (67-61) batters to reach in the sixth as the game got uncontrollably out of hand. 

“T.J. just got back from a two-month sabbatical. Brad and Zach [Britton] and Mychal pitched some big innings for us here recently, back to the Washington series. Other teams were good, too. All pitching everywhere is a little worn down some. That’s why you see some lopsided games. That’s a tough time, August. That’s why we try to be so diligent in April, May June and July, making sure you have your bullets this time of year. We will. We were able to stay away from people getting over-extended,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Bundy was honest in assessing his outing.

“Not good. Anytime you can’t get through five or six innings, it’s not a quality start. I didn’t give my team a very good chance to win today. That’s my fault- got to get better next time,” Bundy said. 

The only Oriole pitcher to not allow a run was Donnie Hart, who has pitched 9 1/3 innings in his 10 big league appearances without being scored upon. 

“I can’t really pinpoint it. Obviously, I left a lot of balls up in the zone. And they were able to capitalize on it. It’s frustrating. I tried to come in and do a job there and give length to the bullpen and I wasn’t able to do that. It kind of stresses the rest of the guys down there in the pen. But you know, you get kicked down, you have to get back up and do it again tomorrow,” McFarland said.

Wunderkind Gary Sanchez hit his 11th home run in the fourth off Bundy, becoming the fastest major league player to hit 11. 

Starlin Castro, who had four hits, and Aaron Hicks hit two-run home runs off McFarland. 

Tommy Layne (1-1), the second of five New York pitchers got the win. 

Before the game, the Orioles added Julio Borbon, who started in center field because Adam Jones was out with a strained left  hamstring. The move temporarily left them with 11 pitchers, and a move could be made after the game to add another since the bullpen again had to cover major innings. 

In the past two games, Orioles relievers have thrown 10 2/3 innings, and nearly all the minor league pitchers on the 40-man roster have been used in the past eight days. Two that haven’t been are Oliver Drake and Jason Garcia, but both have been up during the season. 

In the third inning, the Orioles (70-59) had a 2-1 lead and thought they had something to celebrate when Chris Davis hit his 31st home run of the season to center field. 

It was the Orioles’ 200th home run of the season. This team has hit 200 homers faster than any other in franchise history except for the 1996 version, which hit a record 257 home runs. 

The Orioles have hit 200 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons. 

Mark Trumbo hit his 39th home run with one out in the fifth. Davis followed with his 32nd. 

“What’s going on right now doesn’t surprise anybody. They’ve all experienced it. The Yankees have, we have. It happens different times of the season. They’re all challenging times, and our guys always seem to respond well,” Showalter said.

Quick Links

Yusmeiro Petit allows 5 runs in 11th, as Nats fall to Rockies

Yusmeiro Petit allows 5 runs in 11th, as Nats fall to Rockies

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 9-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in extra innings on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: The Colorado Rockies' lineup is relentless and powerful, and they have a unique ability to pressure opposing teams into making uncharacteristic mistakes. The Nationals fell 9-4 in 11 innings to Colorado on Saturday and made numerous unforced errors along the way.

One Rockies run came in on a wild pitch during an intentional walk thrown by starter A.J. Cole. Newly-acquired lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski made a throwing error in the seventh inning that helped lead to a run. And reliever Yusmeiro Petit allowed a pair of two-run homers in the 11th to seal the Nationals' fate.

It was another poor defensive performance for the Nats in a long string of them. They committed two errors and that count didn't include another mistake by Rzepczynski, who dropped a ball in the ninth when fielding a bunt. The error he was charged with was on a groundball by D.J. LeMahieu in the seventh. Rzepczynski made an underhand throw to first base that sailed over Ryan Zimmerman's head. That allowed Charlie Blackmon to reach third and eventually score.

It was Blackmon who hit the first homer off Petit in the 11th. The next was by Carlos Gonzalez, his 200th career bomb. Petit also gave up another run on a single by Nick Hundley in an overall disaster of an outing.

The Nats scored their first three runs in the fourth inning. Bryce Harper landed an RBI double to left field. Wilson Ramos smacked an RBI single and Danny Espinosa brought in another run on a groundout to second base. 

They pushed the game to extra innings on a Jayson Werth RBI single with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. He singled to left field to score Ben Revere, who walked and stole second base to set it all up. Werth's RBI was off Adam Ottavino, who saw his 37-game scoreless streak snapped. This came just one series after the Nats broke Orioles closer Zach Britton's then MLB-best 43 consecutive scoreless appearance streak.

Harper was later ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Mark Winters in the bottom of the 10th. He went off over a called strike three and threw his helmet at the ground. Winters immediately tossed him. It was Harper's eighth career ejection and his second of this season.

Rookie A.J. Cole took a no-decision in his first home start as a National. He went 5 2/3 innings with three runs allowed on four hits and three walks. He served up a homer to Blackmon - the first of two for the Rockies All-Star - allowed an RBI single to pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and brought another run home on the wild pitch.

The Nats have lost five of their last seven games.

What it means: The Nationals dropped to 75-54 overall on the season. They are 2-3 against the Rockies in 2016.

Harper keeps rolling: Harper's double was his fourth extra-base hit in his last four games and his third to opposite field. That is a very good sign for the reigning MVP, who when at his best can spread hits around the field as good as anyone in baseball. With that double, Harper has reached base in all 14 games since he returned from his neck injury. He also walked and has reached base twice in five straight games and in seven of his last eight outings. Harper is now batting 21-for-54 (.389) with six doubles, 16 RBI and 11 runs since coming back.

Harper has shown promise for brief stretches since April, but he hasn't produced this consistently in months. Now he's hitting doubles and triples to left field. It appears he may be finally rounding into form, just in time for the home stretch of the regular season. He just needs to do better at keep his cool with the umpires.

No slowing Turner: Trea Turner had another strong game with two hits and a steal. It was his 19th multi-hit game of the year in his 40th total outing and his batting average now sits at .341. Turner's steal was his 17th of the season, which puts him in second on the Nats, only behind Harper who has 18. 

Ramos ties a career-best: Ramos single gave him 68 RBI on the year, which ties the career-high he set last season. It was Ramos' first game back after sitting out two with Jose Lobaton behind the dish in his place. Ramos' RBI was his first in a span of eight games and an encouraging sign for The Buffalo, who has struggled of late. Before the single, he was 0-for his last 13 going back to Aug. 20, with just one walk during that span. Since Aug. 9, Ramos' batting average has dropped double digits from .337 all the way to .312. Perhaps the two days off and Saturday's RBI can help get him going.

Up next: The Nats and Rockies play the finale of this series and their head-to-head matchups this season. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. with right-hander Chad Bettis (10-7, 5.29) going for Colorado. The Nationals have yet to name their starter.

[RELATED: Dusty talks about slapping Turner's butt, things get weird]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Quick Links

Bryce Harper ejected after arguing balls and strikes vs. Rockies

Bryce Harper ejected after arguing balls and strikes vs. Rockies

Bryce Harper lost his cool in the 10th inning on Saturday afternoon after home plate umpire Mark Winters called him out on a strike three thrown on the outer edge of the plate against the Colorado Rockies.

Harper immediately threw his helmet to the ground and got in Winters' face. Winters wasted no time handing Harper his eighth career ejection.

For Harper, it was his second ejection of this season. He was 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI double on Saturday before he was tossed.

MORE NATIONALS: ROSS BEGINS MINOR LEAGUE ASSIGNMENT SUNDAY

Here is the pitch Harper thought should have been a ball (No. 5):

(Screenshot: MLB.com)

More to come...