Mystics seek repreive from losing ways against Storm

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Mystics seek repreive from losing ways against Storm

The matchup: The Mystics (2-7) finish their three-game road trip with a stop Sunday in Seattle (7 p.m. ET), a locale that has hardly been accommodating over the years, but where they now hope to salvage their left coast excursion. After being routed in Los Angeles, Washington blew a late lead at Phoenix on Wednesday for its second straight loss and sixth in seven games. Now the Mystics look to snap a six-game skidon the Storms home court, a place they have not emerged victorious from since2005. Their timing is not ideal, as the Storm (4-7) have found their way with three straight victories and alsoswept the 2011 season series. The home-and home scenario concludes Tuesday when the two sides meet at the Verizon Center.Last time out: Behind another sterling interior effort from center Michelle Snow and Monique Curries bench scoring, the Mystics led the shorthanded Mercury 74-69 with 2:26 remaining. It did not go so well from there, outscored 11-3 the rest of the way for an 80-77 loss. Phoenixs eight active players struggled from distance throughout, but drilled consecutive 3-pointers in the closing stretch and made their free throws, something the Mystics failed to accomplish.One, we left them Mercury open for two wide-open threes, and really down the stretch we missed our free throws, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said after he squad shot 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from the foul line. If we hadnt missed our free throws, it wouldnt have been the game. I think that those two things really hurt us down the stretch...we just needed to close it out and we didnt.Still Snow-ing: Starting her fourth straight game, Snow led the Mystics with 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. The 10-year veteran, one of the several new players added this offseason, has scored 36 points in her last two games after scoring 32 over the first seven games. The 6-foot-5 glass-eating center has averaged 10 rebounds per game during the four-game starting stretch.Mo Currie required: A career 37-percent shooter from beyond the arc, Currie entered Phoenix having missed all nine of her 3-point attempts over her previous four games.Perhapstaking to her bench role,Currie got hot from deep and elsewhere in the Valley of the Sun, sinking 3 of 5 from long range and 8 of 16 overall. We just need to win, so whatever I can bring to the table, or what anyone can bring to the table, were willing to do it and trying to do it, Currie said of adjusting to not being in the starting lineup. Were just trying to get the best out of everyone. Storm clouds lifting: Without all-everything center Lauren Jackson the Aussie is preparing for the upcoming summer Olympics the Storm labored early in the season with losses in six of seven games. Now, Seattles remaining stars are directing a charge back up the standings, led by point guard Sue Bird (12.4 points, 5.3 assists). Former Mystics Katie Smith (7.5 points) and Victoria Dunlap are also part of the Storms roster. Smith scored 13 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in Friday's 92-76 win over San Antonio. Dunlap, part of the trade that brought Crystal Robinson to Washington, could missSunday's game while recovering from a concussion.

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 24, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 109 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 20
—Training camp starts (7/27) 64
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 78

Is the 2018 Cousins tag threat a bluff?

On Monday, Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team is willing to use the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third straight year.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract,” said Allen when asked if the team would use the franchise or transition tag on Cousins in 2018. He has said something similar on previous media interviews this year.

This year Cousins is getting the tag for the second time in his career. That gives him 120 percent of his 2016 salary which comes to just under $24 million. A third franchise tag in 2018, which would either give the Redskins exclusive negotiating rights or a possible choice between matching an offer sheet from another team or getting draft pick compensation, would get Cousins a 144 percent increase over this season, or a whopping $34.5 million.

The franchise tag would give the Redskins the power to unilaterally lock up Cousins for the 2018 season. It is expensive, by design. Could the Redskins afford to wield that power? Or is Allen just bluffing?

A look at the numbers makes it look like Allen is bluffing.

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $127 million in salary cap commitments in 2018. Based on recent growth trends the salary cap will be an estimated $178 million. That gives the Redskins $51 million in cap room.

Cousins’ $34.5 million salary for a third tag would hit the 2018 cap all at once as soon as the tag is applied. You don’t have to be a master capologist to do the math and figure out that such a move would leave the Redskins with $16.5 million in salary cap space.

A look at the top-line number doesn’t seem that bad. Eight teams would have less cap space than Washington so others, like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Chiefs, would be worse off.

But the problem with the Redskins’ situation is twofold. First, 21 of their current players are slated to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. Not all of them are key contributors. But they would have to squeeze to bring back the likes of Zach Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long, and Bashaud Breeland. If they don’t re-sign them they will have to go to the free agent market for replacements and that will tough to do with so little money to work with.

The other issue is that they don’t have any fat to cut from their cap. They could save from $4.5 million to $8 million by cutting one of the four players with the highest cap numbers. But they aren’t going to be better if they cut loose Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams or Ryan Kerrigan.

Going down the list of top cap hits, they would save no money by letting Brandon Scherff go since his salary is fully guaranteed. Washington would take a net loss of cap space by cutting Morgan Moses and releasing Vernon Davis would save just $1.1 million. In fact, other than the top four mentioned above there are no players the Redskins could release who would save more than $1.6 million in net cap space.

The Redskins could create more cap room by restructuring some of their highest-paid players. But a simple restructure, where salary is converted to signing bonus, spreading the cap impact over the remaining years of the deal, doesn’t save any real money. The cap hit is merely pushed back into future seasons. Bruce Allen has been reluctant to do this and he is right to think that way. Restructures should only be used in a “break glass in case of emergency” situations, not as a regular way of doing business.

In short, tagging Cousins for $34.5 million would force the Redskins to lose quality players or to use cap management tactics that run against their philosophy, or some combination of both. While you can’t rule out the tag on Cousins, there is enough there to make the possibility remote.

Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, can look at these numbers and figure out that Allen is bluffing about a 2018 franchise tag as well as I can. It will be close to a non-factor in negotiations.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Ervin Santana tosses 2-hitter as Twins beat Orioles

Ervin Santana tosses 2-hitter as Twins beat Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Ervin Santana pitched a two-hitter for his 10th career shutout, Brian Dozier homered and the surging Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Tuesday night.

After banging out 21 hits in a 14-7 win over Baltimore on Monday, the AL Central-leading Twins relied on exceptional pitching to earn their ninth victory in 13 games.

Santana (7-2) struck out six, walked two and permitted only one runner past first base. The lone hits against the right-hander were a second-inning single by Welington Castillo and a single in the fifth by Jonathan Schoop.

It was Santana's 18th complete game, the second this season. He finished by retiring the last 14 batters.

Minnesota became the first team this season to capture a series at Camden Yards (the Orioles were 7-0-0). Now 16-5 on the road, the Twins on Wednesday will seek to complete their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since 1996.

Dylan Bundy (5-3) pitched well for the Orioles, but Santana was better. Bundy allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings, striking out seven and walking three.

Byron Buxton hit an RBI single in the fifth and Dozier connected in the seventh for a 2-0 lead.

A crowd of 13,294 endured a persistent rain shower that wasn't quite fierce enough to cause umpires to stop play.

The weather suited Santana just fine. He lowered his ERA to 1.80 and improved to 4-0 with a 0.31 ERA on the road.

MORE ORIOLES: 2017 MLB Power Rankings: Where do the Orioles place?