Brewers closer John Axford is off to a rough start, allowing three homers and a total of six hits in 11 plate appearances while working with decreased velocity. Axford says he feels fine physically and Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes that the Brewers are unlikely to make any quick decisions about removing him as closer,…
Watch the full exchange from SportsTalk Live in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.
Stephen Strasburg is off to a strong start with the Washington Nationals as he sets the foundation for how much his next contract will be worth.
That became a point of contention Wednesday night on SportsTalk Live when co-host Rob Carlin brought up the idea that, if Strasburg indeed finishes strong, the Nationals will need to discern whether this is the start of a sustainable uptick in production or the product of a contract year.
Brian Mitchell took exception to that entire notion, saying that it is illogical to think that players play better simply because they are in a contract year.
The argument evolved from there until Carlin couldn't take it anymore -- and walked off the set. Watch the exchange above.
PITTSBURGH – For the past eight months the Capitals have been telling anyone who would listen that this team is different than the ones that disappointed their fans in the past.
Now they have a chance to prove it.
After a crushing 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center, which gave Pittsburgh a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Capitals were saying all the right things.
“It’s a totally different year,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. “Last year we (were) winning 3-1 against the Rangers and we lost. We just have to have the mentality of shift to shift, period by period, and try to turn it around. Try to win the next game.
“We have to take this experience and turn it around our way. I think it sucks, you want to (win) the game and tie the series, but overall I think we have to play our game.”
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 30 of 33 shots on Wednesday and has allowed two more goals than rookie Matt Murray in this series, said the Capitals need to rely on what got them this far.
“We’re a good team,” he said. “We have the experience, the composure. It’s just a matter of bringing it to use now. We’ve got to keep pushing forward and hopefully the bounces will go our way sooner or later. Focus on the next game and all you can do it put your best effort out there.”
The Caps and Penguins played a pretty even game through two periods, with the Penguins taking a 2-1 lead on goals by Tevor Daley and Matt Cullen and the Capitals tying it on a second-period goal by John Carlson.
But with 2:34 gone in overtime, Penguins forward Conor Sheary threw a puck at the net that went off the heel of the stick of Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who swiped at the puck and sent it directly to Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist fired a shot between the pads of Holtby as he scrambled back to cover his left post.
“We were OK with (Weber) out there,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “It was more of an unlucky play than anything. We had the puck a little bit earlier and sort of lost it. It sort of just tied him up and he moved his stick and it went right to Hornqvist. That’s the way it goes.”
Holtby slammed his stick in frustration as he left the ice, realizing the opportunity the Caps had just squandered with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang out of the lineup due to a suspension.
“It was tough,” Trotz said. “That’s why it’s sudden death. That’s what it feels like. We’ll have to deal with it.
“This group has dealt with a lot of things. They’ve handled adversity well all year and they’ll do it again. We dug ourselves a hole and we’ll have to see if we can dig ourselves out of it.”
The Caps have not trailed 3-1 in a playoff series since 2009, when they stormed back to beat the Rangers in seven games. But this road looks a lot steeper.
The Penguins managed to dodge a bullet by winning Game 4 without their top defenseman. And they have not lost three games in a row since late December, let alone three in a row.
“We’ll have to come up with a Grade A effort on Saturday night,” Trotz said. “The Verizon Center has been a good place for us. I have a lot of trust in this group. It’s shown a lot of resiliency, just as Mike (Sullivan’s) group has shown a lot of resiliency all year. We’ll have to prove it.”
Yes, they will.
MORE CAPITALS: WINNIK LEAVES ICE AFTER HIGH-HIT FROM MALKIN
BALTIMORE – Wednesday’s pregame was dominated by silly talk that the Orioles deliberately canceled the New York Yankees’ batting practice the day before.
Rain was forecast, but it never came, but that sometimes happens around here.
The Yankees took batting practice in the mist, and on yet another cool and unpleasant night, broke their six-game losing streak with a 7-0 win over the Orioles before 15,998 at Oriole Park.
Chris Davis, who was wearing a large wrap over his left hand after the game, acknowledges the weather is difficult to play in.
“It’s tough for everybody, but it’s part of the season. I think the biggest thing for us to remember is it’s a long season. These are the games that test you early on, but later in the season, they pay off,” Davis said.
Davis played behind Tyler Wilson, who through the first five innings, allowed just one hit, and 11 of his first 15 outs were on the ground.
It all came apart in the sixth. With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury singled and stole second. He advanced to third on Brett Gardner’s single. Ellsbury scored when Adam Jones did not attempt a throw home on Carlos Beltran’s fly to center field.
“He just didn't get it out good. He made a great throw to the plate the play before. He just couldn't get it out of his glove. He just couldn't get the exchange down right,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Mark Teixeira walked, and Gardner scored on Brian McCann’s single to right. Starlin Castro bounced to the mound, but Wilson (1-1) threw the ball past Davis at first for a two-base error as Teixiera scored.
“That’s probably the thing that upsets me most about the outing. Obviously we practice and do that all the time, and there’s no excuse for that. I pushed the ball into the ground, made a good grip, and then threw it into the ground. Stayed low, threw it, did everything the way we always practice it. I just didn't execute. That’s 100 percent on me,” Wilson said.
The Orioles (15-11) had plenty of opportunities against CC Sabathia, who recorded his 19th win against them.
They hit into three double plays, and had just one runner on third base. In the fifth, Jonathan Schoop doubled, and one out, Ryan Flaherty singled, but Schoop stayed at third as Joey Rickard and Manny Machado struck out.
“That’s kind of been the way things have been going for us lately. We’ve had a few games where we’ve been able to score some runs early and capitalize on those opportunities but for the most part, we’re not getting the job done when we have runners in scoring position," Davis said.
"I think the biggest thing to remember is to stay the course. We’re playing really good ball defensively right now. I think we’re throwing the ball really well right now and we’re keeping ourselves in the game and we all know the bats are going to heat up when the weather is not raining and cold and it warms up a bit,” Davis said.
It got worse in the eighth. T.J. McFarland gave up a leadoff double to Beltran, walked Teixiera and left with the score 5-0 after McCann doubled to right and advance to third on the throw. Didi Gregorius’ single made it 6-0.
Dylan Bundy loaded the bases with two outs, and hit Gardner with a 3-2 pitch. New York (9-16) led 7-0.
Sabathia (2-2), who barely made New York’s rotation out of spring training, allowed six hits in seven innings.
“I think over the years, he’s really had to pitch more. His velocity is obviously not where it used to be, but he knows how to pitch. You don’t stay in this game that long not knowing how to pitch,” Davis said.
Kirby Yates loaded the bases in the eighth with one out, but Dellin Betances struck out Davis and retired Mark Trumbo on a foul pop to third.
Showalter felt Wilson pitched decently.
“I thought he was pretty good period. He had a wet ball that he couldn’t get a grip on. He did his part. He was good. He pitched well. We just didn’t score any runs. It’s one of those nights where if even at three, if we can score some … I choose to look at the outing like it really was. He was good. We’ll take that,” Showalter said.
NOTES: The crowd was the smallest for a Yankees-Orioles game in Baltimore since Sept. 27, 1988 when 15,737 watched at Memorial Stadium. … The Orioles were shut out for the second time this season while New York recorded its first shutout. … Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 2.87) pitches against Kevin Gausman (0-1, 2.45) on Thursday night.