The matchup: The Washington Mystics return home Tuesday night, attempting to avoid something they havent done since last season by doing something they havent done all season. Currently on a five-game losing streak, the only way for the Mystics (5-21) to not reach a season-high sixth straight loss is by defeating the Eastern Conference leading Connecticut Sun for the first time this calendar year.The two sides are meeting for the fifth and final time this regular season with the Sun looking for the series sweep for the second straight year. Connecticut has won eight straight over Washington and four straight at the Verizon Center, site of two victories this season including the narrowest contest. Despite Crystal Langhorne pacing five double digit scorers with 15 ;points and Michelle Snow notching 10 points and 11 rebounds, Washington fell 77-70 on July 10. The next day Connecticuts Olympic frontcourt duo of Asjha Jones and Tina Charles combined for 39 points and 16 rebounds in an 85-73 win. Washington, owners of the worst record in the league, hasn't lost six straight games since dropping nine in a row August 13-30, 2011. The first setback in that skid came against Connecticut.Jones 22 points stands as her season-high, but she has missed several games with an Achilles injury including Sundays 87-80 loss to Atlanta. Connecticut leads Indiana by 1.5 games. Charles (19.0 points against the Mystics) has been more than a handful, though the same can be said of the Sun dealing with Langhorne, who is averaging 17.5 points and shooting 56.4 percent (31 of 55) against Connecticut. Last time out: Leading New York 20-15 late in the first quarter, Washington surrendered the final seven points of the first quarter and then wound up on the wrong end of an 11-0 second quarter run, ultimately losing to the Liberty 79-73 on Saturday.Monique Currie led the way with 20 points and combined with Langhorne (19) and Jasmine Thomas (18) to score 57 of the Mystics 73 points. Thomas made 8 of 12 field goal attempts, but committed six of Washingtons 17 turnovers.Grasping for Griner, dreaming of Delle Donne: With eight regular season games remaining and the Mystics five games behind Chicago and New York for the final playoff spot, its not unrealistic to start pondering the future. In this case, by future we mean the WNBA Draft and more specifically, the draft lottery. Taking it even further, we mean what are the chances the Mystics land Baylors franchise-altering center Britney Griner, Delawares high-scoring forward Elena Della Donne or Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, the projected jewels of the 2013 class.The four non-playoff teams are part of the lottery process, one that NBA fans are familiar with. Last year Tulsa finished with the leagues worst record and had a 44.2 percent chance of landing the number one overall pick. At their current trajectory, the Mystics will find themselves in that position. If there is ever a year for a team to find itself in that position, its this year.Griner, the 2011-12 National Player of the Year spearheaded Baylors 40-0 campaign last season which ended with a National Championship. The 6-foot-8 interior dominator force on both ends of the court averaged 23.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks. Della Donne, a 6-foot-5 power forward with range, led the nation in scoring with 28 points per game.As Notre Dame's point guard, the 5-foot-9 Diggins directed the Fighting Irish to last year's National Championship game, sharing the backcourt with Mystics' rookie Natalie Novosel.
Andrew Shaw will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Thursday for boarding Capitals defenseman Connor Hobbs.
Shaw, perhaps upset about being upended by Jay Beagle moments earlier, lined up Hobbs and nailed the Washington prospect, who had his back turned, into the end boards late in the second period of Tuesday’s 5-2 loss in Montreal.
Shaw was then confronted by another Capitals’ prospect, Nathan Walker. As Walker threw punches, Shaw attempted to rile up the crowd by waving his arms as if to say, ‘Louder.’ Hobbs and Walker have never appeared in an NHL game; Shaw is entering his sixth NHL season.
After the game, Capitals associate coach Todd Reirden praised Walker for coming to Hobbs’ defense.
“I’ll always point stuff like that out,” Reirden told team reporter Mike Vogel at Bell Centre. “That’s team. That’s Capitals’ hockey. That’s one part of hockey that will never change for me is that you stick [up] for a teammate, especially in preseason. It was incredibly brave. He did an outstanding job.”
Shaw received a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. In all, he was assessed 30 minutes in penalties.
MORE CAPITALS: SANFORD IMPRESSES IN PRESEASON DEBUT
There are a lot of reasons the Nationals like reliever Sammy Solis, beyond the obvious, that he's simply another good left-hander they can use in late-game spots. He's versatile with the ability to pitch multiple innings and he can also get both lefties and righties out.
Solis holds lefties to a .193 batting average and right-handers to a .229 clip. As manager Dusty Baker has said before, he doesn't have to mix-and-match with Solis like he does with other left-handed relievers.
Tuesday night was the first time in a while that Baker got to call on Solis. The 28-year-old had just returned from the disabled list after recovering from left shoulder inflammation. His seventh inning spot against the Diamondbacks was his first since Aug. 15. After six weeks of rehab, including a setback, Solis is now back in the mix, just in time for the playoffs.
"He said he was ready. We threw him right in the fire," Baker said.
Solis came back firing his fastball at 93 and 94 miles per hour. His first pitch sailed high and out of the zone. He was nervous.
“I would say a few butterflies in there," he said. "But once I got past the first pitch it was all good. Right back to the comfort zone of being on the mound.”
Solis quickly found his command and got three outs on balls put in play. He threw 12 pitches to complete a perfect frame and a bridge to the eighth inning where Shawn Kelley took over.
That seventh inning could be a good place for Solis with Kelley thriving in the setup role and Mark Melancon firmly installed in the ninth. Baker clearly trusts Solis in high leverage spots, as evidenced by his decision to hand him one in his first game back.
“Honestly, I want to be there. I expect to be there, having my name called in later innings in a close game," Solis said.
Solis can get just about anyone out when he's pitching well. But having him in store for the NL Division Series against the Dodgers could prove paramount. Their lineup is potent and it's heavy on left-handers.
Between Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers not only have balance, they have tons of power from the left side. Those four have a combined 80 homers this season and Solis has never allowed one to a left-handed batter through 97 plate appearances.
Solis saw the Dodgers twice this year - on June 20 and 21 - and struck out three through 1 2/3 innings. He feels like he can be a big help in that series.
"I really hope I’m in there especially with a left-handed dominant lineup like they have and some power as well. I just hope to be on [the playoff roster]" he said.
He doesn't have to worry about that one.
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