From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Doug Fister was breezing along after striking out nine straight batters and setting an American League record.Detroit led by four runs in the eighth inning -- but for the 2012 Tigers, nothing has come easy.The Tigers nearly wasted Fister's dazzling streak, blowing a big lead late before beating Kansas City 5-4 on Thursday when Alex Avila drove home the winning run in the ninth with a bases-loaded grounder.Detroit's lead in the AL Central grew to two games when the slumping Chicago White Sox lost to Tampa Bay 3-2."Getting a win is big," Avila said. "We have to be able to win tight games like this. It's the only way we're going to be able to get in the playoffs and go far in the playoffs."Detroit finished 50-31 at home this season -- and will now try to wrap up the division on the road. The Tigers play three games at Minnesota, followed by a season-ending three-game series at Kansas City.Fister came within one strikeout of matching Tom Seaver's major league record of 10 in a row. He struck out Salvador Perez to end the top of the fourth, starting a streak that didn't end until Perez grounded out to the shortstop on a two-strike pitch in the seventh."It's crazy, to go through a whole lineup and strike everybody out," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "And I don't think he threw more than four pitches to any of the batters."The AL record of eight consecutive strikeouts had been accomplished several times, most recently by Kansas City's Blake Stein on June 17, 2001.After Perez grounded out for the third out of the seventh, first baseman Prince Fielder put his arm around Fister as they headed back to the dugout."I said, Congratulations, man. You made history.' He was like, What are you doing?'" Fielder said. "He was locked in so it was kind of like, Get away from me.' I was like, All right, they'll tell you."At that point, Fister had retired 16 straight hitters and Detroit led 4-0 -- but he was oblivious to the strikeout record."Honestly, I had no idea," Fister said. "(Fielder) was yelling at me to step off during the inning, and I kind of looked at him. Normally, he'll do that, to slow me down, if I'm getting too quick. ... I thought that was kind of what he was doing there. He just said, Hey, step off.' I look at him, and he kept looking at me, and he said, Aw, I'll tell you later.'"Fister's performance almost went for naught. The Royals scored three runs in the eighth, and Billy Butler tied it in the ninth with a solo homer off Joaquin Benoit (5-3).Fielder led off the Detroit ninth with a chopper that went past the mound and charging shortstop Tony Abreu. The hefty slugger made it all the way to second for a double on a ball that only ended up a few feet beyond the infield.Delmon Young was intentionally walked, and pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago bunted into a forceout at third, leaving runners at first and second. Kelvin Herrera replaced Tim Collins (5-4) on the mound and got Jhonny Peralta to hit what looked like a potential double play grounder to third, but Mike Moustakas misplayed it for his third error of the game -- and Kansas City's fifth.Avila hit a full-count pitch to first baseman Brayan Pena, who made a diving stop and touched the bag, but had no play at home."Pena still made a great play on that one," Fielder said. "Baseball is really hard because even if you're good, you have to be a little lucky, too."Fister finished with 10 strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings. He allowed two earned runs and five hits.Kansas City's Luis Mendoza allowed two earned runs in seven innings.Francoeur hit an RBI double in the eighth, Johnny Giavotella added an RBI groundout, and Abreu, pinch-hitting, drove in a run with a single to make it 4-3.Detroit took a 4-0 lead thanks in part to four Kansas City errors in the first two innings.Moustakas was charged with two errors on one grounder by Quintin Berry -- one for mishandling it and another for a bad throw. Fielder drove in a run later in the first with a single, advancing to second on an error by left fielder Alex Gordon.Young hit a sacrifice fly, and Gordon threw Fielder out at home on a single by Andy Dirks to end the inning.Berry's two-run triple in the second made it 4-0.NOTES:Detroit closer Jose Valverde was sick and unavailable. ... Royals 1B Eric Hosmer left the game with a strained right shoulder. ... The Tigers play at Minnesota on Friday night. LHP Drew Smyly (4-3) will start because of an injury to Max Scherzer. Minnesota will counter with LHP Scott Diamond (12-8).
LOS ANGELES -- Remembering the last time the Wizards came back to beat them in the fourth quarter, the L.A. Clippers weren't about to allow that to happen again. That was especially true after they blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Sacramento Kings in the previous game.
Markieff Morris got the Wizards out to a fast start by making their first three-pointer. His efficiency scoring, much like in the 117-110 over the Clippers in December, was there. Unfortunately for him, he only lasted 15 minutes because of a third-quarter ejection.
Morris made 4 of 6 shots and had 14 points, but he couldn't keep his cool -- again -- and it cost them dearly. He was hit with separate technical fouls in a span of 74 seconds of the third quarter.
"We've got to control our emotions. Obviously he said something," coach Scott Brooks said after the 133-124 loss. "That's part of the game that we have to continue to improve on. We've been good the last four or five games but when you say you're pretty good the last four or five games it means you're really not that good. We got to do a better job with that. I thougth they did a good job of being physical with us and we at times complain too much."
Morris was part of a double technical with Blake Griffin. But he was limited in his time on the floor because of common foul trouble. He picked up his first just 50 seconds into the game. By 7:17 of the first, he had his second foul and went immediately to the bench.
Morris was hardly the only player in jeopardy because of infractions. Ian Mahinmi had three fouls in just seven minutes of play in the first half. Bradley Beal had three in 19 minutes. Kelly Oubre finished with five fouls in 25 minutes. Mahinmi eventually fouled out with six in the same time on the floor.
"Some calls were great calls. Some calls they got baited into," Wall said of the officiating which led to the Clippers having a 10-1 edge in foul shots after the first quarter. "Sometimes the refs get baited into making the wrong decision. They admit to it afterwards."
Wall, who had five fouls, has 14 technical fouls and can't reach 16 or he'll serve an automatic one-game suspension. That'll reset after the regular season is complete.
Morris picked up his ninth and 10th technicals. With just seven games left, he should be able to stay comfortably below the suspension threshold.
Much like a middle school dance, the Redskins are stuck in an awkward phase with their courting of Kirk Cousins. Clearly, the team likes their passer, enough to pay him nearly $20 million last season and another $24 million this year. Yet, the team can't seem to agree on a price to keep Cousins around for the long-term.
That leads to some interesting discussions. Earlier this offseason Cousins brought up that not only could his play improve with a multi-year contract, but his leadership as well.
That is the benefit to the long-term deal. It’s okay, I’m the guy. I’ve got full freedom to lead, full freedom to just be the guy, to make this mine, and to get that permission, if you will. That’s where I think the leash comes off and you’re able to fully go, and I’m excited for that day to come, whether it comes this year or down the road. I can’t wait.
At the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix earlier this week, Washington head coach Jay Gruden was asked if a long-term contract would help Cousins.
I think being a quarterback in the National Football League you should be a leader and feel good no matter what his contract status is. I think having a long-term contract maybe helps a little bit but I think when we get out on the field on the first game Sunday afternoon, people are going to look to him for leadership. He is going to provide it whether it's a one-year deal or a 10-year deal. I know he is going to play his butt off, compete, prepare and do all the things necessary whatever link the contract is and we are excited to coach him.
Gruden continued, explaining that though Cousins does not have the security of a long-term deal, he is taking home a lot of cash.
I don't know how difficult it is really, he is making a lot of money and he is doing a nice job. He is having fun, the players love him, respect him and rally around him. The business side of it with the agent and our people is what it is and its thats way with a lot of guys. We are going to have a number of guys with one year contracts and I fully expect them coming in and working their tails off and doing everything right to try and win a championship. That is what it's all about and at the end of the year we will come back to our negotiating table and try to get something done. Ideally you would like everyone to be on their long term contracts but that is obviously not possible.
Fans should know that Cousins is not the type of player to allow his contract situation to create a disctraction. While some players would buck at the first franchise tag, Cousins has signed both tags in 2016 and 2017 without hardly a peep of consternation. His work ethic also cannot be questioned, as the 'Skins passer is already working out with new wideouts Terrelle Pryor and second-year man Josh Doctson along with slot star Jamison Crowder on his own dime and time in Florida. Cousins is not the type to miss any optional workouts or camps, whether or not others in his situation might try to send a message to their team.
Leadership is an innate quality, important for quarterbacks. It can't be bought. Cousins has it. He showed it in 2015 when he made about $600,000. He will show it again in 2017, whether that's on the franchise tag or if the two parties can work out a long-term deal.
A long-term deal might allow Cousins to feel more secure in his future in Washington, but on the field, in the film room, or in the locker room, Gruden expects to see no change from his quarterback.
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