Mystics-Dream preview

Mystics-Dream preview

The matchup: Its not a dream, Washington does indeed face Atlanta for the second time in a week yet so much will look different when the two sides square off on Thursday night.
This week the Dream (12-13), currently third in the Eastern Conference fired longtime coach and general manager Marynell Meadors and suspended star Angel McCoughtry indefinitely for violating a team rule.Atlanta had no problem dispatching Washington 81-69 at the Verizon Center without the WNBAs leading scorer. The Mystics (5-19) fell behind by double digits in the first quarter thanks to nine turnovers and trailed by 28 points in the third before a Matee Ajavon rally pulled them closer late to make the final score respectable, but not indicative of the meeting. If you cant take care of the ball you cant make shots, said Monique Currie about Washingtons miscuing start. The early turnovers led to frequent layups and Atlanta finished with 40 points in the paint. We cant get shots, were not getting back on defense continued Currie, who had 14 points. They had a layup clinicAjavon scored 16 of her 20 points off the bench in the loss, Washingtons fifth in six games since returning from the Olympic break.Washington, four games back of New York and Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, heads to Atlanta having lost 11 of 12 road games this season.After winning the first meeting this season against Washington, Atlanta has dropped two straight, including a stunning home loss to Tulsa, owners of the worst record in the Western Conference.Last time out: The Mystics avoided a slow start at Indiana, but a 10-2 third quarter proved decisive as the Fever pulled away for an 83-68 win. Reserves Noelle Quinn and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton led in scoring with 13 and 10 points respectively, but that was not nearly enough to overcome a 10 of 17 3-point shooting barrage by the Fever.We started off well, Quinn said. Gave up too many three point shots. Generally speaking we were the aggressor. But in the third quarter we fell on our Achilles heel and let too many three point baskets be made today.Snowed under: Before and immediately after the Olympic break, center Michelle Snow provided a consistent rebounding presence for the Mystics, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, not so much with only 10 boards overall and just four off the offensive glass.The Dream: Hard to know which is more stunning; McCoughtrys disruptive absence over the last four games or the back-to-back Eastern Conference champions firing their coach. Atlanta replaced Meadors with assistant coach Fred Williams. Former Mystics point guard Lindsey Hardings presence at the point guard remains and Armintie Price scored 19 points in the previous win over Washington.

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Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 19, 2014, the San Diego Padres traded pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later -- it would be Trea Turner -- to the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal that included the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since that trade, the Padres have posted a record of 160-215 while the Nationals are 208-166 after they won 3-0 Saturday as Stephen Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 batters in seven innings and the Washington staff fanned 17.

As a reminder of what could have been, Ross (2-0, 5.32) makes the start Sunday against San Diego right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) in the finale of the three-game series at Nationals Park.

First-place Washington is 30-18 while last-place San Diego is 18-33.

Ross was drafted by the Padres in the first round out of his California high school in 2011. Ross is 2-0 in his career against San Diego with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. Last year, he went six innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a win against the Padres.

"I was not around Joe at all," said Andy Green, in his second year as the San Diego manager. "We saw him last year; he is a sinkerballer."

The Padres did acquire All-Star first baseman Wil Myers in the trade.

The Nationals have scored a record 62 runs in the four starts made this year by Ross, more than any other pitcher has received in his first four starts of a season. That included a 23-5 victory at home April 30 against the New York Mets and a 10-1 win Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

Ross, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015, was in the rotation last season and made 19 starts before going on the disabled list. He was in line to be the No. 5 starter, but began the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

Chacin is 3-2 in six starts against Washington and has a 3.09 ERA. He has made three career starts at Nationals Park and is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing only one run in 20 innings.

The Nationals played their second game in a row Saturday without second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was ill.

Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for manager Dusty Baker, said before the game that Murphy was ill. Murphy entered the day hitting .316 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

"He's available. This is Dusty's theory: Usually when somebody comes in and says, 'I'm ready,' then he usually gives him one more day. But he's available," Speier told reporters before the game.

Murphy entered Saturday seventh in the National League in hits with 56, just ahead of teammate Bryce Harper (55). Murphy was also among the league leaders in multi-hit games and road batting average.

Washington shortstop Turner, drafted by the Padres in the first round out of North Carolina State, had two hits, including a homer, Friday and was 1-for-4 Saturday.

Another hot hitter for Washington is center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who hit a homer for the second day in a row Saturday and has four homers in his last 14 games.

"I'm looking for my pitch and staying in my zone," Taylor said. "I'm not trying to do too much."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg has career-high 15 strikeouts in Nationals win over Padres

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Orioles drop sixth straight in loss to Astros

Orioles drop sixth straight in loss to Astros

HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel had a solid performance in his return from the disabled list, and George Springer hit a two-run homer to help the Houston Astros to a 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.

Keuchel (8-0), who missed one start with a pinched nerve in his neck, allowed four hits and one run while fanning eight in six innings. His eight wins this season lead the majors and he's just one win away from matching his total from last year, when he struggled in the follow-up to his stellar 2015 season during which he won 20 games and the American League Cy Young Award.

Will Harris struck out two in a perfect ninth for his second save.

Houston led by 1 in the fourth before Springer homered off Wade Miley (1-3) to make it 4-1.

Welington Castillo had an RBI single for the Orioles, whose season-high skid reached six games.

Jose Altuve had three hits and an RBI and Carlos Correa added two hits and drove in a run for the Astros, who won for the fifth time in six games.

Miley tied season highs by allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings to remain winless since April 14.

Springer put Houston up 1-0 in the first when he made a diving slide to evade the tag at home and score on a double by Altuve. Correa followed with a single to send Altuve home and push the lead to 2-0.

The Orioles got going in the third inning when Caleb Joseph walked with two outs. Joey Rickard singled before Joseph scored on a single by Castillo to cut the lead to 2-1.

Alex Bregman singled with one out in the fourth before Springer hit his 10th home run on a towering 447-foot shot to center field with two outs to extend Houston's lead to 4-1.

Chris Davis tripled off Tony Sipp to start the seventh and scored on a wild pitch by James Hoyt with one out to cut the lead to 4-2.

The Astros added a run in the seventh when Altuve scored on an error by Rickard.

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