After a month-long hiatus for the summer Olympics, the Washington Mystics and the rest of the WNBA returns to action this week with the locals playing at Indiana on Thursday. Depending on one's point of view, the break for the Mystics (4-14) was either: Much needed so the players and coaches could analyze and ponder how best to fix the woes of the first half, one that included three losing streaks of at least four games. Or...Poorly timed seeing as the Mystics closed the first half with a rousing 70-53 win at New York, their largest margin of victory on the season.Sure, you can point to the latter position with some legitimacy, but the overall ills during those initial 18 games cannot be denied. Slow starts were a repeat offender; Washington did not own a lead at the end of the first quarter until the 13th game of the season. Spotty point guard play certainly did not help generate consistent early offense.The one constant on offense and on the boardsremains forward Crystal Langhorne, who topped the team in points (16.6) and matched Michelle Snow with a team-high 6.7 rebounds. The former University of Maryland star combined with DC native Monique Currie for 40 points in the victory over New York and tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Mystics stunning 67-66 win over the Fever (10-7) on June 15.Overall the Mystics offense has been stagnant and simply lacking, averaging a league-low 69 points per game. Currie (10.6) is the only other playing averaging double figures, Matee Ajavon (9.2) is averaging nearly five points a game fewer than she did last season, sinking only 32 percent of her shots. The real issue for coach Trudi Lacey's squad offensively comes with those directing traffic. Free agent signee Dominque Canty went from starting point guardto waived after only five games. Second-year guard and former first-round pick Jasmine Thomas is still transitioning into a floor leader role and the growing pains are evident at times.In-season pick-up Shannon Bobbitt became a 5-foot-3 sparkplug for a while, but she failed to tally a single point in four of her last five games. Natasha Lacy also received time, but nothing stuck. Even if the losses continue to mount, letting Thomas and 2012 first-rounder Natalie Novosel take control of the backcourt at some point could be Lacey's best path.Indiana, led by Olympic Gold medalist and small forward Tamika Catchings, ended the first half in second place behindEastern Conference leading Connecticut. Catchings paces the Fever in points (18.2), rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.0), though the do-everything star missed 10 of 14 shots in the June loss to the Mystics. The two sides square off three times over the final five-plus weeks of the regular season including twice in Indiana where the Fever are 6-3.Meanwhile the Mystics lost seven of eight road games with the win at New York representing the only triumph away from the Verizon Center. Seeing as they open the second half playing six of eight on the road, the Mystics better hope they remembered that winning formula.
It was back in January that the Nationals acquired Ben Revere from Toronto in exchange for reliever Drew Storen. The former National won't even spend a year north of the border.
With the trade deadline approaching, Toronto made a move on Tuesday to send Storen and cash considerations to Seattle in exchange for pitcher Joaquin Benoit.
#Mariners have acquired RHP Drew Storen and cash considerations from Toronto in exchange for RHP Joaquin Benoit.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) July 27, 2016
Storen posted a 6.21 ERA for Toronto in 33.1 innings this season. Benoit has a 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings.
BALTIMORE—Chris Tillman had been magnificent. In his previous four starts, Tillman allowed four runs in 28 innings and won all four.
On Tuesday night, Tillman gave up four runs in the third inning alone.
Tillman’s search for his 15th win will have to wait at least another five days as the Orioles’ five-game winning streak came to an end in the Colorado Rockies’ 6-3 win before 23,677 at Oriole Park.
After learning he hadn’t been selected to the All-Star Game, Tillman reeled off four straight wins. Those wins came just after three of his poorest starts of the season.
Now, he can start on a new streak.
The Rockies (48-52) scored four runs on five hits in the third, all on two-strike hits.
Carlos Gonzalez had a two-run double and Trevor Story a two-run single.
“Any situation you get in like that, long innings, you always feel like you’re one or two pitches away. I felt like we made a lot of good pitches that inning, made some pitches to get some outs, but you’ve got to give credit to them. They put some huge at-bats together, made some really good swings and I wouldn’t change a thing that inning. I missed with a couple but also made some really good pitches at the same time,” Tillman said.
“We’ve talked about this before. When you’re getting in pitchers counts and not putting guys away, it’s frustrating, but you’ve got to go back and look at the positives. You got to two strikes and you’ve just got to find a way to put them away.”
Two more runs scored against Tillman (14-3) in the fifth on an RBI double by Nolan Arenado and a wild pitch by Tillman.
“Chris, the pitches he elevated they didn’t miss. Very close to a better outing, he got through five. We just didn’t do much offensively,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman was lifted after five and replaced by Tyler Wilson, who was given a reprieve before game time. Wilson, who was summoned when Ubaldo Jimenez went on the paternity list, was kept on when he returned. He threw four perfect innings.
The Orioles (58-41), who suffered a rare home loss, decided to keep 13 pitchers for now and jettisoned outfielder Julio Borbon instead.
With the loss, the Orioles are still a gaudy 37-15. They had won a season-high six straight at home. Their fifth winning streak of five or more games overall came to an end.
Colorado started Chad Bettis (9-6). On Aug. 17, 2013, Bettis allowed eight runs—six of them unearned—in 2 2/3 innings in Baltimore.
Bettis was much sharper in his second outing against the Orioles. He allowed two runs, on an Adam Jones’ two-run home run in the fifth inning, and just four hits in six innings.
The Orioles trimmed the lead to 6-3 in the eighth. Scott Oberg walked Jones, who took second on Hyun Soo Kim’s infield out and third on Manny Machado’s single.
Boone Logan struck out Chris Davis, who is now 0-for-23, and threw a wild pitch to score Jones. Mark Trumbo popped out to end the eighth.
There have been a number of similar streaks for Davis in his Orioles career, and it always seems as if they end with a barrage of home runs.
“He’s going through a period where he’s not stating the obvious- doing what he’s capable of,” Showalter said. “You got to stick with him and trust the track record. He’s frustrated with it, believe me. He’s here early. Sometimes you can try too hard. I know how bad he wants to be the contributor he’s capable of being.”
Carlos Estevez pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
While Davis isn’t swinging well, Adam Jones is playing well. He’s either scored or driven in all six Orioles runs this series.
He walked twice and now has 27 bases on balls this season, nine away from his career high.
“No, I have not changed as a hitter. I just, I don’t know, man. I still think I swing a lot, and I still think I swing out of the zone a lot. I’ll take the walks if 3-2 is really outside or in or up or down. It just has to be something I really can’t reach for me to take it,” Jones said.
NOTES: Kim was 1-for-3 in his first game since July 10. He was on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. “I felt good that I’m heading in the right direction. I’m trying to find the right mechanics to be in the ballgame again,” Kim said through his translator. …The Orioles end their homestand on Wednesday night. Jon Gray (6-4, 4.12) faces Dylan Bundy (3-2, 3.30). … Jimenez will start at Minnesota on Thursday night.
Postgame analysis of the Nats' 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
How it happened: After Jonathan Papelbon imploded in the ninth inning on Sunday, manager Dusty Baker took some of the blame, saying he should not have pitched his closer for the third straight day. Papelbon denied he was tired, but Baker felt it was worth mentioning.
Despite that, Baker went back to Papelbon on Tuesday night in a key spot. It came after an off-day, but Papelbon did not look himself against the Indians. His fastball was regularly topping out at 89 miles per hour and Cleveland jumped all over it.
Papelbon allowed a leadoff walk then an RBI double to Tyler Naquin. Ryan Zimmerman then committed a costly throwing error to first on a Chris Gimenez sacrifice bunt to score Naquin. And then, with Oliver Perez on the mound and the bases loaded, young superstar Francisco Lindor singled in the winning run for an Indians walk-off victory.
Papelbon has now failed the Nats in the ninth inning of two consecutive games. The one positive may be that he's done this before the Aug. 1 trade deadline and not after it, as the Nats' need for bullpen help is becoming more and more obvious.
The Nats had a solid day on offense, led by Trea Turner in the leadoff spot. He singled, walked, stole a base, reached on an error and scored a run in another all-around effort. The rest of the Nats' lineup followed suit, as Wilson Ramos hit his 15th homer of the season, Anthony Rendon clubbed his 12th and Jayson Werth added two doubles to extend his streak of reaching base to 29 games, matching a career-high.
The Nats knocked Danny Salazar - one of the AL's best pitchers - out after just four innings of work. He gave up four runs (3 ER) on four hits and two walks. Nats starter Gio Gonzalez overcame a rocky first inning to go 6 1/3 frames with three runs (2 ER) allowed.
The Nationals began their long road trip with a tough, 7-6 loss and have now lost six of their last eight games.
What it means: The Nats fell to 58-42 on the season. With the Marlins' win on Tuesday, the Nats are now just four games up in the NL East.
Turner mostly good in CF, great at plate: Known for his prodigious speed on the base paths, apparently Trea Turner is also a fast learner.
With Zimmerman back from the disabled list, the Nationals rookie played center field for the first time in a big league game on Tuesday night and the early returns were overall quite good. Turner for the most part looked competent at his new position, despite having one key moment where he showed his inexperience. Perhaps more important, the Nats kept his bat and his legs in their lineup and again saw the impact he can provide at the top of their order.
Turner wasn't tested much in center field on Tuesday night, but he did make one very impressive play in the first inning on a long flyout by Jose Ramirez. Turner covered over 112 feet according to StatCast and caught the ball on a full sprint just a step away from the right-center field wall. It was a difficult play and he made it look easy, registering a 97.8% efficiency score. Turner also made another catch at the warning track in the seventh inning. He displayed good instincts around the wall at a park he's never played before.
That was the good. There was also some bad, including a mistimed dive attempt in the bottom of the eighth that resulted in a Jason Kipnis double. Turner dove while running in towards the infield, only to have the ball bounce in front of him and then over his head. Kipnis later scored on a double play ball hit by Mike Napoli.
Gio starts slow, rebounds: Tuesday will go down as another step in the right direction for Gonzalez, but it didn't start that way. He ran into major trouble in the first inning by throwing 13 balls in his first 17 pitches. That stretch included a leadoff walk to Rajai Davis and then a ground-rule double by Kipnis. Davis scored after that on a passed ball and Kipnis came home on a Carlos Santana sacrifice fly. Gonzalez barely got out of the first inning and was lucky only two runs came across.
After that, though, he was better. Gonzalez held the Indians scoreless for the next five innings before leaving in the seventh. He finished with three runs allowed (2 ER) on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts. The second earned run charged to Gonzalez came on a tough-luck play. Gonzalez exited after giving up a one-out double to Abraham Almonte. Almonte then scored on a Lonnie Chisenhall groundball hit against Blake Treinen that bounced off Rendon's glove and into center field.
Gonzalez has now allowed eight earned runs in his last four games across 24 innings since July began. That equals an even 3.00 ERA, which is solid considering his struggles through May and June.
Zimmerman returns: Zimmerman came back, but didn't carry over the momentum from his hot-hitting minor league rehab games. Zimmerman went 0-for-4 and left three men on base. That was in addition to his mistake in the field.
Scary moment: There was an unfortunate sequence in the first inning on Tuesday night, as a fan in the crowd at Progressive Field was hit in the face by a Daniel Murphy line drive. The 75-year-old woman was quickly rushed to the hospital, but it sounds like she suffered some serious facial injuries at the very least.
Up next: The Nats and Indians play the finale of their two-game interleague series with a 12:10 p.m. start on Wednesday afternoon. Stephen Strasburg (13-1, 2.83) will square off with right-hander Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 2.31).
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES