The matchup: The two teams currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture also own the longest losing streaks in the WNBA. One of those skids comes to an end when the Washington Mystics travel to face the New York Liberty on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Mystics (5-20) returned from the Olympic break with a slim chance at a playoff berth. Losing four straight and six of seven since has not helped their cause. Washington sits 4.5 games behind Chicago, currently the fourth and final seed, and four back of New York.The road has not been kind to the Mystics, who have dropped 12 of 13 away from the Verizon Center. However the one victory came at New York immediately before the break, a stunning 70-53 win behind 24 points from Crystal Langhorne. Since then, five straight road losses, four by at least 15 points.The Liberty (9-16), losers of three straight, committed 21 turnovers and shot 32 percent from the field in the previous loss to the Mystics. Cappie Pondexter, the WNBAs leading scorer with 20.7 points per game, averaged 23.5 points in two games against the Mystics this season including 25 in a June win at Washington.Last time out: Holding a two-point lead at halftime, the Mystics lost their way during the second half at Atlanta, outscored by the new-look Dream 51-28 over the final two quarter. Despite playing without the leading scorer Angel McCoughtry, suspended for a team violation, Atlanta gave new head coach Fred Williams his first victory by scoring 24 fast-break points compared to Washingtons eight and opening the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. We turned the ball over which led to some easy baskets for them, Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. The other piece of it is we fouled and got them on the free throw line. When you play with that combination it leads to easy points for the other team.Monique Currie scored a team-high 14 points and Crystal Langhorne had 13 for the Mystics, who have lost their last three games by an average of 16.6 points.Consistent Currie: Since returning from the Olympic break, the Mystics small forward has reached double digit points in six of seven games yet did not tally more than 14 points in any game during that span. Washingtons second-leading scorer on the season (10.7) had seven such outings in 18 games before the break, including a season-high 21 points against Connecticut, but also scored in single-digit scoring seven times. Currie is averaging 11.4 points during the second half of the season along with 1.7 steals.
BALTIMORE---For the fourth time in their last six games on Tuesday night, the Orioles are facing a pitcher, Reynaldo Lopez, who’s facing them for the first time.
A.J. Cole, who was a last minute replacement on Monday night for Stephen Strasburg, also was seeing the Orioles for the last time.
Houston’s Joe Musgrove and Houston’s Mike Fiers were the others.
Mark Trumbo isn’t sure who has the advantage in a first time matchup.
“You never quite know. I think it’s probably going to be about even over the long time,” Trumbo said.
“It can be a tall task sometimes. On the flip side, they don’t know much about you, either. They don’t exactly what you’re looking for or how you’re going. You can also jump on them early at times.”
Trumbo said the most important thing is to talk with teammates.
“What’s really key is for hitters to share as much information. The first couple of guys that get a look at him, just give something on him. Is it sneaky? Do you see it well? Do you not see it well? How’s the movement?” Trumbo said.
He doesn’t watch much video.
“It’s all subjective. It’s guy to guy. I don’t watch hardly any. I don’t get anything from it. The only thing I’ll get sometimes are you’ll see what guys are having success in what part of the field sometimes,” Trumbo said.
“I like to see it with my own eyes and make some mental notes as we go.”
On. Aug. 13, the Orioles faced Madison Bumgarner for the first time, a pitcher most of them hadn’t seen, but Trumbo had. With a pitcher that good, is there anything that he can offer someone who hasn’t faced him.
“Maybe it’s just enough to foul a pitch off or lay a pitch off in the dirt,” Trumbo said. “You’re just trying to arm guys with as much as you can. If you’ve seen someone before, at least give them a picture of what it’s like in there against the guy.”
It turns out Joe Ross may be closer to returning than originally thought, or at least closer than it seemed on Monday. On Tuesday, Ross took a big step in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation by throwing a bullpen session in Baltimore at Camden Yards.
That was a step Ross waited weeks to take and, though it was only about 30 pitches, the right-hander felt great coming out of it and now has a potential return in much clearer focus.
"The head trainer, Paul Lessard, he came in and gave me the thumbs up," manager Dusty Baker said. "I know Joe has been champing at the bit and it was very successful. He said he didn't feel anything. Hopefully we can put him back to work here pretty soon."
"It feels really good, that's why I'm pretty excited," Ross said. "I finally got to throw off the mound and it's feeling good. Hopefully it feels good from here."
Ross hopes to throw another bullpen session this week and then increase his workload up from there. As for when he will return, that has not been determined.
"I don't know exactly how long, but I want to get back on the mound as soon as possible. I'm feeling better. That's what I'm working towards," he said.
Ross, though, could return sooner than under usual circumstances, as the Nats may be inclined to skip a minor league rehab assignment and instead have him rejoin them as a reliever. He could build his innings that way and eventually return to the rotation some time in September.
"It makes sense," Ross said. "I know the season's coming to an end for the minor league side. So if that what we've got to do, that's what we've got to do. I mean, I'd just be happy being out there pitching. I'll take whatever role I can get for now. But obviously want to try to get back to starting in September, mid-September. That's the goal."
Baker thinks having Ross pitch out of the bullpen could also come in handy later on.
"We're in the middle of a pennant race. I haven't talked to Mike [Rizzo] about it or anything, I just talked to Joe about it. I just didn't want him surprised that that was the case. We want him if possible, if he's ready, on the playoff roster. That's always a possibility for a fourth or fifth starter to be in the bullpen, anyways. So, we'll see. We'll see how his progress comes," he said.
Ross hasn't pitched in the majors since July 2. He hasn't pitched in a game since July 30, when he appeared with the Triple-A Syracuse.
[RELATED: Nats place Strasburg on DL with elbow injury]
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES
One of the New York Mets' top starting pitchers wants you to know something: His name is spelled Noah Syndergaard. That's S-y-n-d-e-r-g-a-a-r-d.
Apparently, it's something that's been tripping up a lot of folks lately, and the 23-year-old right hander has had enough. Syndergaard posted a tweet Monday calling out the MLB Shop Mets team store for selling jerseys that ready "SYNEDGAARD" on the back.
As you can imagine, he was less than amused. What's even more, this is the second time in consecutive months that there's been an error. Check out the tweet below at the All-Star Game.
Luckily, the nickname "Thor" has caught on in the Big Apple. Maybe they should sell jerseys with that on the back instead.