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.
The Redskins boast more players in the NFL Players Association’s ‘Rising 50’ than any other team, the union announced Thursday.
Five Redskins, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, made the cut on the 2016 list. The Rams are second with four players, and the Cardinals, Texans, Jaguars and Seahawks each have three.
Joining Cousins, who ranks second behind Rams running back Todd Gurley, are All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman (8th), tight end Jordan Reed (24th), running back Matt Jones (35th) and rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson (36th).
Cousins is one of four quarterbacks ranked among the top 10. Norman, meantime, is the highest ranking defensive player, while Doctson is one of 10 players who were selected in this year's draft.
What is the Rising 50? According to the NFLPA, the second annual list identifies "players best positioned to rank among the top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars." The union says it takes into account on-field performance, fantasy league popularity and early demand from current sponsors and licensees.
(To be considered for the Rising 50 players must not have appeared in previous NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales quarterly lists. Last year, 11 players from the Rising 50 ascended to the Top 50 Player Sales list during the 2015 season.)
While leading the league in players in the Rising 50 doesn’t guarantee success on the field, it does underscore the fact that second-year GM Scot McCloughan is assembling a group of talented and popular players in Washington.
Here’s the full Rising 50 list:
- Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
- Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
- Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
- Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
- Josh Norman, DB, Washington Redskins
- Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
- David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
- Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
- Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
- Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals
- Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears
- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
- Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos
- Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
- Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Seattle Seahawks
- Aaron Donald, DL, Los Angeles Rams
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
- Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
- Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
- Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans
- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
- Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns
- Patrick Peterson, DB, Arizona Cardinals
- Joey Bosa, DE, San Diego Chargers
- Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets
- Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
- Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
- Buck Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens
- Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins
- Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
- Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
- Tavon Austin, WR/KR, Los Angeles Rams
- Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
- Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings
- Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
- Myles Jack, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
- DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
- Blaine Gabbert, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Tonight's Game: Oakland Athletics (13-16) vs. Baltimore Orioles (16-11), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 7:05 p.m.
Starting pitchers: Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20)
Keys to the Game:
Can the Orioles Jimenez give the Orioles a solid start to match Kevin Gausman's on Thursday night?
Can the Orioles hit Hill? In his last start against them, Hill pitched a two-hit shutout last Sept. 25, striking out 10 when pitching for Boston.
News and Notes:
Hill is trying for his fourth win, which would be his most since 2007.
Current Orioles are batting .174 (4-for-23) against Hill.
Jimenez is 3-1 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts against Oakland.
Billy Butler is batting .345 (10-for-29) with a home run against Jimenez.
BALTIMORE – It’s early May, and the Orioles have already experienced a round of American League East play, and they like what they’ve seen.
In an extraordinarily tense game, the Orioles broke a 21-inning scoreless streak by pushing a run across in the 10th inning for a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees before 19,598 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.
The Orioles have played each of their four AL East opponents, and are 9-5 against them. They’ll now play out of the division for 27 games.
With Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka both pitching magnificently, it took them leaving the game after eight innings for a run to finally come home.
Gausman finished by throwing eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Tanaka gave up five hits in eight shutout innings.
“I kept telling myself in the dugout, ‘He’s not going to give in, I’m not going to give in,’” Gausman said.
“That’s just one of those good pitching performances, going back and forth. I felt like I’d sit back in the dugout and then go right back out there.”
Hyun Soo Kim started the 10th with an infield single off Johnny Barbato (1-2). Kim advanced to third on a single to left by Jonathan Schoop.
Andrew Miller came in to face Pedro Alvarez, who flied to fairly short center. Reimold beat Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw home for the winning run.
“Just try to get a ball up where I can put a good swing on it and hopefully hit it deep enough or where nobody's [and we] can score. I'm just trying to hit the ball. I'm just trying to square it up. Obviously, if I get a pitch that's up in the zone then there's more probability of the ball being in the air, that's why i was looking for a pitch up and just putting a good swing on it,” Alvarez said.
Kim, who a month ago had yet to play his first game, is now 10-for-18 in seven games. His .556 batting average is certainly unexpected, but the fun he had in setting up the win, made him ecstatic.
““It’s just indescribably great for me to win a game like that. I’m really enjoying the moment,” Kim said through his translator.
Darren O’Day started the ninth with two outs, and after Starlin Castro singled, Zach Britton who hadn’t pitched since spraining his left ankle on Saturday, came in to face Brian McCann.
On a 3-1 pitch, Britton threw a strike to McCann, and Matt Wieters fired the ball to shortstop where Manny Machado tagged Castro out to end the ninth.
“That entire at-bat I was kind of feeling like my focus was on whether or not I was going to feel (the ankle discomfort) every pitch, even though I wasn’t. And then, obviously, Matt made a huge play right there to get us back in the dugout. So I felt like that time in the dugout, sitting on the bench, I was able to come down and refocus a little bit,” Britton said.
After walking Brian McCann to start the 10th and later allowing a stolen base to pinch runner Brett Gardner, Britton (2-1) struck out the side.
This was Gausman’s third start of the season, and he’s gotten better each time.
“He was something, wasn’t he? He was solid,” manager Buck Showalter said.
While Showalter marveled at Gausman’s growth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seethed. He felt Gausman was balking, and third base umpire Chris Guccione ejected Girardi for arguing after Starlin Castro was left on third to end the top of the fourth.
Gausman, who can give the Orioles a lift if he can become a topline starter, feels that in his fourth year, he’s finally arriving.
“I think obviously my confidence is growing. I just feel a lot more confident at this level. Some guys get to the big leagues and already are comfortable. This is the first year I’ve really felt, I know what I’m doing. When I take the mound there’s no question if my stuff is going to play or not. Now, it’s more about making pitches,” Gausman said.
The Orioles (16-11) took two of three from New York (9-17).
Showalter used Reimold and Joey Rickard as pinch runners, and continues to use a three-man bench. By the time the Orioles play next, that could change.
The Orioles have been carrying 13 pitchers, and wanted to keep them all until Britton showed he was physically able to pitch.
Paul Janish, whose wife is about to deliver their third child, may be joining the team. Showalter also mentioned Jimmy Paredes as a possibility.
NOTE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series on Friday night. Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20).