Looking back on Andy Pettitte's 1st start of 2012

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Looking back on Andy Pettitte's 1st start of 2012

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Pettitte stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium with his hat pulled down low, peering in at the catcher over the glove held high in front of his face. It's an image Yankees fans know well. This time, though, No. 46 was back on a big league mound for the first time in a year and a half. It was hard to tell. Pettitte pitched effectively into the seventh inning Sunday, but gave up a pair of two-run homers in New York's 6-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. "To me, he looked like he hadn't missed a beat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Nearly lost amid the excitement over Pettitte's first major league appearance since retiring after the 2010 season was party crasher Kevin Millwood's performance for Seattle -- helped by three double plays. The 37-year-old Millwood (1-4) gave up three hits in seven innings and got his 2,000th career strikeout as Seattle avoided a three-game sweep. The Yankees tried to prevent their old pal Pettitte from taking the loss with a rally in the eighth against four Seattle relievers. Robinson Cano was walked with two outs by Charlie Furbush with the bases loaded to make it 4-2. Mark Teixeira, though, struck out to end the inning. The lovefest for Pettitte (0-1) began when the lefty appeared with several players in videos welcoming fans to Yankee Stadium after batting practice. The cheers grew as he strolled out to the bullpen for warm-ups and fans rose for a standing ovation when the five-time World Series champion followed his teammates onto the field for the first inning. "I just cannot believe how comfortable this is for me," Pettitte said. "I don't know how to explain it." The Core Four member who turns 40 next month even got special treatment from the Bleacher Creatures. They broke protocol after their roll call and started a chant for Pettitte that most of the 41,631 in attendance joined. The Creatures rarely include the starting pitcher when calling out player's names in the first inning. The stadium got awful quiet when Casper Wells homered in the sixth to give Seattle a 4-1 lead with his first of the season, an opposite-field drive off the netting on the right-field pole. Justin Smoak homered for Seattle's first hit with two outs in the fourth. "I thought it was so awesome. I was so excited. I know we lost today and that's what a lot of people are going to focus on -- I could really care less about that," Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We got our boy back." Pettitte's return had become more important to the Yankees because their rotation had been struggling, with Freddy Garcia demoted to the bullpen. But through the first five games of this homestand, the team's starters were 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA and Girardi thought their performance would take some of the pressure off Pettitte. The broad-chested Texan appeared calm as ever in his first big league start in 573 days, since Game 3 of the AL championship series against Texas on Oct. 18, 2010. He sat out last season before deciding in mid-March to make a comeback. After Swisher caught leadoff batter Dustin Ackley's fly to right with a leap at the wall, Pettitte walked Wells. He then got Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a double play. Pettitte walked Alex Liddi with two outs in the second but Mike Carp grounded out to end the inning. Not having allowed a hit two outs into the fourth, Pettitte walked former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero and Smoak lined a homer to left. Pettitte showed characteristically little emotion on the mound. Wells homered following Ackley's leadoff single in the sixth. The Mariners then loaded the bases with one out on three straight singles but Girardi stuck with Pettitte, and Carp grounded to first. Teixeira stepped on the base and threw home, and catcher Russell Martin tagged a sliding Montero. Pettitte returned for one batter in the seventh and induced his 12th groundball out. He left to a loud ovation despite trailing 4-1 and waved to fans as he entered the dugout. "There is not a question in my mind how this is all going to play out for me," Pettitte said. "It's not about this one start. I'll measure if this was a successful return or not at the end of October."

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Prediction recap: Caps win heated affair in Philly

Prediction recap: Caps win heated affair in Philly

The Capitals are back in the win column! Washington finally recovered from the bye week with a strong 4-1 win over Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions.

1. Washington will lead after the first period - Correct

Things looked bad when the Flyers scored 23 seconds into the game, but the goal was disallowed thanks to a heads-up coach's challenge from Barry Trotz. From there it was all Caps as they took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after the first period.

RELATED: The Caps are hopeful Niskanen avoided serious injury

2. Players will be given matching minors - Correct

As predicted, this was a heated affair. No one wanted to drop the gloves, however, leading to plenty of matching minors being doled out. Three sets of matching minors were issued in this game, making me not only right, but very right.

3. Washington’s third line will score - Wrong

The Caps didn’t need depth scoring with three goals from their top two lines and fourth on the power play. The third line may not have scored on Wednesday, but they were still impressive throughout. Lars Eller had another strong defensive performance while Zach Sanford looked strong on the boards.

2017 results: The third line played well, but not well enough to give me the sweep. Still, two out of three ain't bad.

Correct: 22.5
Wrong: 43.5
Push: 3

MORE CAPITALS: Two disallowed goals for Flyers help Caps earn first win post-bye

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Morning tip: Wizards remain active, see future with trade acquisitions

Morning tip: Wizards remain active, see future with trade acquisitions

The decision to trade a lottery-protected first-round draft pick and two players who were completely out of the Wizards' rotation was done with the expectation that both have a good chance to be part of the future.

The Wizards are "still talking" with the trade deadline approaching today at 3 p.m. ET, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com, but that doesn't mean another move is imminent. 

After practicing Thursday, the Wizards (34-21) will travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday in the first game for both teams after the All-Star break. Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, acquired from the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, are expected to join them. 

Bogdanovic's three-year contract that he signed with Brooklyn expires at the end of this season which means his acquisition comes with a risk after playing 27 regular-season games in Washington. 

But there's an anticipation that after making him a qualifying offer (125% of his $3.6 million salary) to keep the 6-8 forward as a restricted free agent gives the Wizards the leverage to retain him this summer. McCullough has a $1.2 million team option for 2017-18.

Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton were sent to Brooklyn in the deal (the latter was released), That means with one fewer shooting guards, the Wizards will look more to rookie Sheldon Mac (no longer McClellan as he legally changed his name during the break), use more lineups with three forwads with Bogdanovic or look for another shooter before the deadline closes.

The other option is to comb free agency for a shooter which isn't impacted by today's deadline. But making such an acquistion would require one of the 15 players on the roster to be waived. 

The final option isn't about acquiring another player but moving one currently on the roster to get back a draft pick. That would be a bench player not named Kelly Oubre, Jason Smith or Tomas Satoransky. All three are too valuable to coach Scott Brooks' rotation.

[RELATED: Nets to cut veteran acquired in trade with Wizards]