Mystics downed by Liberty 79-73

Mystics downed by Liberty 79-73

NEWARK,N.J. (AP) -- Essence Carson scored 20 points and Cappie Pondexter added 14 tolead the New York Liberty past the last-place Washington Mystics 79-73 onSaturday. KaraBraxton had 14 points, including eight in a decisive 11-0 run in the secondquarter, to help New York (10-16) snap a three-game losing streak. Carson shot8 for 13 from the field and also had six assists. The Liberty moved into a tiefor fourth place in the Eastern Conference with Chicago, which played atIndiana later. Atlanta is 3 12 games ahead in third. MoniqueCurrie scored 20 points, Crystal Langhorne had 19 points and eight rebounds,and Jasmine Thomas added 18 for Washington (5-21), which lost its fifthstraight.

Quick Links

Morning tip: UPDate for weekend

Morning tip: UPDate for weekend

With the big-ticket item put to bed with Bradley Beal’s max contract, the Wizards are entering a dead period where little will take place leading into training camp. But there's still much to be decided.

By the second week of August, the NBA will release the regular-season schedule and players will trickle into town for individual work, get acclimated with their new teammates and new head coach Scott Brooks and his staff.

  • There are still two roster spots to be decided, with Jarell Eddie, Danuel House, Sheldon McClellan and Daniel Ochefu –- all of whom have partial guarantees –- in the prime position to succeed. The Wizards have 13 guaranteed contracts for the 2016-17 regular season. They can carry as many as 20 players before cutting down to the maximum of 15 players by tipoff. 

 

  •  Any other invites that the Wizards dole out for training camp that are accepted are unlikely to include money (partial guarantees). The reason is because they already have a solid group with partials and it's unlikely that center Micheal Eric, who was the best big in the middle for them during Las Vegas summer league, will accept. They're stocked already in the middle. Even though Nate Wolters played exceptionally well in Las Vegas too, he's not in the mix to attend because three point guards already are under contract.

 

  • The hiring of a new head athletic trainer after Eric Waters was fired with one year left on his contract hasn't been settled but should be soon. The Wizards, however, are looking to restructure the staff similar to how other teams have done so in recent years. Instead of just a head trainer, they're looking at creating a position similar to the Portland Trail Blazers when they made Christopher Stackpole the Director of Player Health and Performance in 2013. The head trainer would report to that person who'd focus on big picture issues and using analyitics even more in-depth to monitor health of current players but prospects who could be drafted and free agents.

 

 

  • xx

 

Quick Links

Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

How it happened: This Trea Turner and Bryce Harper combination at the top of the Nationals' lineup has potential.

Turner has been doing his part for over a week now, continuing to look like a player who can lead the Nats to new heights with his production from the leadoff spot. And on Thursday night in San Francisco, Harper followed the rookie's lead with a strong effort hitting behind him.

Turner went 2-for-4 with a walk, a run and a steal. After going hitless in his previous five games, Harper smoked an RBI double to score Turner from first in the top of the sixth. As Turner rounded third and charged home, his helmet flew off behind his head, a subtle ode to the man who drove him in.

Turner had one of three straight two-out RBI singles hit by the Nats in the top of the second inning alone. Danny Espinosa got the first to score Wilson Ramos. Tanner Roark then landed the second to score Ryan Zimmerman before Turner brought home Espinosa.

That sequence was the worst moment for Johnny Cueto, who lasted a season-low five innings. Roark, on the other hand, was surgical through seven innings of one-run ball. 

The Nats pitching staff hummed like a well-oiled machine until the bottom of the ninth inning when Jonathan Papelbon took over. He faced one batter - Brandon Crawford - who flew out - before manager Dusty Baker got Oliver Perez warming in his bullpen. Papelbon would stay in to allow two baserunners before getting the hook. That simply does not happen if he had not given up six earned runs in his previous two outings. Clearly the Nats do not have confidence in their closer at the moment.

Perez replaced Papelbon, but didn't finish the inning. He loaded the bases by walking Trevor Brown, then allowed a run on a Gregor Blanco infield grounder that was charged to Papelbon. Blanco hit a laser to Anthony Rendon, who bobbled it before throwing it to second, where Espinosa also bobbled it to botch the forceout.

After Perez, it was Shawn Kelley who came in and shut it down with a strikeout of Angel Pagan with the bases loaded. Papelbon, by the way, has now been tagged with earned runs in three straight outings.

The Nationals won their second straight game after losing six of their previous eight.

What it means: The Nats beat the Giants in their first head-to-head matchup of the season. They moved to 60-42 overall and sit five games up on the Miami Marlins in the NL East with exactly 60 games left to play.

Roark too much for Giants: Roark entered Thursday as the less-heralded of the two starting pitchers, but the Nats right-hander thoroughly out-dueled Cueto in a performance that was typical of his strong 2016 season. Roark went seven innings with one run surrendered on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts on 111 total pitches. It was the eighth time this season that Roark has gone at least seven innings with one earned run or fewer allowed. Only Cubs lefty Jon Lester, with nine such starts, has done that more. Roark moved to 10-6 on the year and currently holds a 2.96 ERA.

Turner lights the fuse: The Nats' issues in the leadoff spot may soon become a distant memory. Turner continued to set the table brilliantly on Thursday night with two hits, a walk, a run and a steal. He fills up box scores like no one else on the Nationals right now and the impact he's having on their lineup as a whole as profound. This was the fifth time in his last nine games that Turner has reached base at least twice and the second straight outing he's been on three times. Turner's steal pushed him to 6-for-6 on attempts this season in just 14 total games. Including the minor leagues, he's 31-of-33 this year.

Turner also fared well defensively. Despite being new to center field and playing in a new ballpark, Turner made all the outs that were hit to him. He even reeled in a leaping catch at the wall for the first out of the bottom of the fifth. Turner backed up all the way to the wall and jumped to catch a Mac Williams flyball. The jump may not have been necessary, but he displayed solid instincts near the wall for a guy who is learning on the job out there.

Harper shows some life: Before Harper's RBI double to the left field corner in the sixth, the reigning MVP was 0-for-19 in his last 21 at-bats. As off as he's looked at times this season, Harper had reached one of his lowest points. The double, though was absolutely crushed and it gave the Nats a nice insurance run against a team that has proven resilient in the past.

Up next: The Nats and Giants play another late one with a 10:15 p.m. ET start on Friday night. Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.92) will take the mound for the Nats opposite right-hander Jeff Samardzija (9-6, 4.22).

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Quick Links

GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

Uh, that's not supposed to happen.

A fan at Turner Field on Thursday night reached into the field of play to catch a flyball and got a lot more than just a souvenir. He caught it right before Braves outfeilder Chase d'Arnaud came charging in. d'Arnau coudl not stop his momentum and ended up face-to-face with the fan, appearing to nearly give him a kiss on the replay.

It was weird. See for yourself:

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES