Sky is falling on Mystics post-Olympics

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Sky is falling on Mystics post-Olympics

Any thoughts of the month-long Olympic break being a panacea for all that ailed the Washington Mystics during the first half of the season is quickly evaporating. Perhaps returning to their home turf changes the momentum for the Eastern Conferences last place team; it certainly cannot hurt.Dealt back-to-back road games against likely playoff teams opening the second half of the season, the Mystics (4-16) fanned the flames in consecutive. Washington committed 34 turnovers in the two games, and the lowest scoring team in the WNBA failed to crack the 70-point plateau in either contest. Fridays 98-69 drubbing against Minnesota was Washington second-largest margin of defeat this season.None of the players participated in the London games. The time off was used for plenty of practice sessions. The extra work is not showing through just yet."It was tough, but you know we had our whole team here, forward Crystal Langhorne said of the back-to-back scenario. We didn't really have anybody at the Olympics so we had a lot of practice time. We still don't have any excuses for the way we played."One sort of excuse the playing on the road thing goes away Sunday when the Mystics host the Chicago Sky (4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Thats a good thing because there is plenty to correct elsewhere."We turned the ball over too much here, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said following the loss to the Lynx. We had 19 turnovers and they scored 32 points off our turnovers. So that's an obvious area we need improvement on, and really our interior defense and transition defense. I mean, they scored 54 points in the paint, a lot of that came off our turnovers.Washington stands 0-2 against the Chicago this season, including a 69-57 season-opening loss at the Verizon Center.The Mystics roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason with seven newcomers doting the opening night lineup. With so many changes and a small pre-season window with which to mesh, the Mystics used the midseason break as an on-court gelling opportunity, or so they hoped."We worked on our different defenses. We worked on taking care of the ball, and today it didn't show at all what we've been working on as a team, said Langhorne, who scored 12 points against Minnesota, matching Monique Currie and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton for team-high honors.The blowout loss against Minnesota provided Lacey an opportunity to keep her younger and lesser-used players in the lineup. Second-year guard Jasmine Thomas started and scored six points, but missed seven of nine shots and committed three turnovers. First-round pick Natalie Novosel played 21 minutes and doled out a team-best four assists. Wisdom-Hylton sank 5 of 6 field goal attempts and grabbed five rebounds.We used this opportunity to play a lot of our young players and give them some game experience, Lacey said. So we think that will help us down the road."Despite Gold Medalists Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash on the roster, the Sky (8-10) are enduring their own struggles, having lost five straight and nine of 10 games. The latest setback, 82-76 at home on Friday against Atlanta despite 13 points and six rebounds from Fowles, the leagues leading rebounder with 12 boards per game.In two games against Washington, the 6-foot-6 Fowles averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.Monique Currie topped the Mystics scorers with 15 points ina 65-63 loss in Chicago on June 1.

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Another quality start, but another Orioles loss

Another quality start, but another Orioles loss

BALTIMORE—The Orioles received three quality starts in their critical three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. They lost two of those games. 

In the latest installment, Yovani Gallardo allowed three runs in the first inning, then pitched well, but the Orioles could do little with Aaron Sanchez and the bullpen. 

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 5-3 win over the Orioles before 16,161 at Oriole Park on Wednesday gave Toronto (76-57) a four-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles (72-61).

Not only was the result disappointing, but so were the crowds. The series drew just 47,775. 

On Monday, Wade Miley gave up three runs in seven innings in a 5-1 loss, and Ubaldo Jimenez also allowed three in 6 2/3 innings as the Orioles won 5-3.

Jose Bautista hit Gallardo’s first pitch for his 17th home run, and with two outs, Michael Saunders walked, and Russell Martin hit his 16th home run, and Toronto grabbed a 3-0 lead. 

Gallardo (4-7), who was won just one of 12  settled down and retired the last 10 batters he faced. He allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. 

Sanchez (13-2) allowed just two singles and walked two runners in the first four innings. 

With two outs in the fifth, Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop singled with Kim taking third. Manny Machado hit a slow roller to third that Josh Donaldson booted for an error. 

The Blue Jays had sent Sanchez to the minor leagues for 10 days to limit his innings. 

He allowed just the unearned run on five hits in six innings.

Mychal Givens allowed a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Devon Travis, and Saunders hit his 23rd home run of the year against Brad Brach in the eighth. It was Saunders’ seventh home run in 15 games against the Orioles this season. 

Schoop’s 21st home run of the year, a two-run shot off Roberto Osuna with two outs in the ninth made it 5-3.  

NOTES: After Thursday’s off day, the New York Yankees come for three games beginning Friday night. Chad Green (2-3, 4.09) faces Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.71) in the first game. On Saturday, it will be CC Sabathia (8-11, 4.31) against Kevin Gausman (6-10, 3.73). Michael Pineda (6-11, 5.12) starts for New York on Sunday. The Orioles haven’t named their starter. 

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Jayson Werth homers, Gio Gonzalez sets tone as Nats sweep Phillies

Jayson Werth homers, Gio Gonzalez sets tone as Nats sweep Phillies

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

How it happened: Few things can cure a pitching staff's woes quite like playing the worst offense in all of baseball. Nats pitchers had taken their lumps in recent weeks, but through three games at the Philadelphia Phillies, order was restored. 

Nats starters dominated in all three outings to help recalibrate their bullpen. And now the Nats are back on track just in time for an off-day before they move on to New York to face the Mets.

On Wednesday night, it was Gio Gonzalez who carved up the Phillies. He went six innings with just one run allowed on two hits and a walk. The lone run he surrendered was a solo homer by Freddy Galvis.

Phillies starter Adam Morgan was also very good. He went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just two runs on three hits. He gave up a solo homer to Jayson Werth and an RBI single to Wilson Ramos before he was pulled.

Werth also had a single for his 26th multi-hit game of the season. Anthony Rendon had two hits including a double, while Michael Taylor, Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper went a combined 0-for-12. This was the first time that Harper hasn't reached base since he returned from his neck injury on Aug. 14.

After Gonzalez left the game, Blake Treinen took over to pitch 1 1/3 perfect innings. Mark Rzepczynski also tossed 1 1/3 and allowed a hit. Shawn Kelley then took over to get the final out of the ballgame.

The Nationals swept the Phillies for the third straight time. It was the Nationals' 9th sweep of the 2016 season. 

The Nats finished the month of August with a 17-11 record, the most wins in a single month for them so far this year. They won 16 games in April, May and June.

What it means: Washington has won 20 of their last 23 against NL East opponents and they don't play another team outside of their division until Sept. 23. With Wednesday's win, the Nats moved to 78-55 on the year. That's a 95-win pace.

Gio keeps rolling: Like Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark in the previous two nights before him, Gonzalez took advantage of a weak Phillies lineup to put in one of his best starts in a while. That was a welcomed change after Gonzalez had to go up against teams like the Rockies, Orioles, Indians, Giants and Dodgers for eight consecutive starts. Despite the tough competition of late, Gonzalez has been on quite the tear for weeks now. Over his last 11 starts he's got a strong 3.16 ERA across 62 2/3 innings. Gonzalez still has some work to do to drop his 4.14 season ERA, but 11 starts is not a small sample size. Gonzalez has been solid for two months now.

Werth hits No. 20: Another night, another homer for Werth, who now has four in his last six games. He had eight in August alone, which ties a career-high for homers in a month for him. This one was a 453-foot bomb to straightaway center field off Morgan, one that nearly took out a TV camera.

It was Werth's 20th homer of the season, the first time he's reached 20 since 2013 when he finished 13th in NL MVP voting. And by getting to 20, the Nats have five players with 20 homers or more. The others are Harper, Murphy, Ramos and Danny Espinosa. Only one other MLB team - the Orioles - also has five players with 20 or more bombs this season.

Ramos is heating up: Ramos spoke on Sunday about how having two days of rest prescribed by Dusty Baker had helped rejuvenate his swing and so far the results are backing up that premise. His RBI single on Wednesday gave him hits in all five games since he returned from his two-game layoff. He also has RBI in four of those five outings. The Buffalo saw his season average dip from .338 on Aug. 7 all the way to .312 on Aug. 27 in a span of just 15 games. But if he keeps swinging it like he has in recent days, that number will start to go back up.

Up next: The Nats finally have an off-day after playing 20 games in 20 days, a stretch that took a serious toll on their pitching staff in particular. On Friday night they get back to work in New York to start a three-game series at the Mets. First pitch in the opener is 7:10 p.m. with A.J. Cole (0-1, 4.97) set to go up against Cy Young candidate Noah Syndergaard (12-7, 2.55).

[RELATED: Turner on playing like a little kid, rest helped Ramos]

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Umpire leaves Orioles game after getting hit in face with fastball

Umpire leaves Orioles game after getting hit in face with fastball

Sure, home plate umpires have the best view of the game, but sometimes it comes with a cost. 

Just ask Jerry Layne, who was struck in the face by an Aaron Sanchez fastball in the third inning. 

Orioles trainer Richie Bancells ran out to evaluate Layne, and Layne eventually left the game with Alan Porter replacing him. 

The umpire was obviously wearing his face mask, but clearly the effects were still pretty painful. 

You can watch the incident here. 

GIF via Deadspin.com