From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- Joe Saunders began pondering perfection just one inning into his latest start.Saunders and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and the charging Baltimore Orioles blanked Toronto 4-0 Monday, cutting their AL East deficit to one game."(Saunders) was the difference today," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.The Orioles, who took two of three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, moved even closer to New York. The Yankees lost 4-3 at Tampa Bay.J.J. Hardy drove in two runs as the Orioles won for the eighth time in 10 games. The one-game gap marks the closest anyone has been to the Yankees since mid-June.Acquired recently from Arizona, Saunders (1-1) retired the first 17 Blue Jays batters before hanging a changeup to nine-hole hitter Adeiny Hechavarria, who lined a two-out single to center in the sixth.Saunders acknowledged he'd long been dreaming of the possibility of a perfect game or no-hitter."You think about it," he said, smiling. "I thought about it after the first. I was like Ooh, nice. I didn't give up a hit in the first.'"Baltimore, which had lost four in a row at Toronto, collected its eighth shutout of the season. The Orioles have won 20 of 28 overall.Saunders bounced back nicely from his Baltimore debut, when he allowed six runs in 5 1-3 innings in a loss to the White Sox."When I got traded over here they had a great thing going," Saunders said. "You just want to come over here and contribute as much as you can. You don't want to mess it up and get blown up a lot."After Hechavarria's hit, Rajai Davis followed with a walk, but Saunders struck out Colby Rasmus to end the inning. Saunders allowed three hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two."Today he settled in a little bit more," catcher Matt Wieters said. "He was definitely in control the whole game and was able to mix in different off-speed pitches."Luis Ayala replaced Saunders after the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Ayala escaped by fanning rookie Moises Sierra and getting Jeff Mathis to fly out.Pedro Strop worked the eighth and Jim Johnson finished for Baltimore, who were playing their third straight day game and riding an emotional wave after their big weekend series in the Bronx."I'm as proud of them today as I have been all year," Showalter said of his team. "That's a challenge."Adam Jones had two hits and Nick Markakis reached three times for the Orioles.The Orioles opened the scoring in the second when Manny Machado led off with a fly down the line in right. Fighting the sun and making a long run to the ball, Sierra couldn't come up with the sliding catch and was charged with a three-base error."Obviously Moises had a difficult time with the sun in right," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.Machado scored when Nate McLouth followed with a sacrifice bunt.Baltimore tacked on two more in the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Markakis and Hardy. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ avoided further damage by striking out Wieters, Mark Reynolds and Machado to strand runners at second and third."They were able to manufacture a couple of runs but he made a number of key pitches to prevent a big inning," Farrell said.Hardy added an RBI single in the eighth.Happ (3-2) allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out nine.Brad Lincoln came on after McLouth doubled off the wall to begin the sixth. A walk, a sacrifice and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Hardy, but he grounded into an inning-ending double play.The Blue Jays, who were blanked for the seventh time this season, have lost three straight and 11 of 15.NOTES:Toronto recalled LHP Brett Cecil and activated RHP Jason Frasor (forearm) off the 15-day DL. ... The Orioles selected LHP Zach Phillips from Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Jason Berken for assignment. Baltimore also recalled RHP Tommy Hunter from Double-A Bowie. ... Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia (right hand) has begun a rehab assignment at Class-A Dunedin and could rejoin the team by the end of the week, manager John Farrell said. ... The Orioles will recall RHP Zach Britton before Tuesday's game, allowing him to start against Toronto.
The 2016-17 Wizards season had some crazy twists and turns. It ultimately ended with a loss to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, but they won their first division title and had their most wins as a franchise since 1978-79. Along the way there were many memorable games. Here is a look at the 10 best...
10. April 6, 2017 - Beal says goodnight at the Garden
The Wizards got their 48th win of the season behind 25 points from Bradley Beal and 24 points for John Wall, who also had eight assists. Both hit four threes, none bigger than Beal's from the corner with :49 seconds left. That put the Wizards up 106-103 and that held as the final score. After Beal hit the three, he high-fived a Wizards fan at Madison Square Garden on his way back to play defense. It was a great moment for a team that was inching close to a playoff run.
9. February 28, 2017: Wizards take down big, bad Warriors
Yeah, Kevin Durant got hurt, but it was still a huge win for the Wizards who had just lost two straight coming out of the All-Star break. And even without Durant, the rest of the Warriors were pretty much the same guys who won 73 games one year before. The Wizards edged Golden State by four points after entering the fourth quarter tied. They dropped 40 points in the first quarter alone. Beal led them in scoring with 25 points, and Markieff Morris was great with 22 points and four blocks but it was Wall's career-high 19 assists that made the biggest difference.
8. January 19, 2017: Wizards' controversial win at Knicks
Wall (29 points, 13 assists, 3 steals) and Otto Porter (6 threes) led the way, but this one is memorable because of how it ended. First, Wall made a huge play by turning a defensive rebound into a fastbreak dunk with :13 seconds left. Then, on the final possession Courtney Lee passed up what looked like a wide open shot. It was later revealed by the Knicks that they were confused by Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe standing on the court during the play. Lowe was later fined by the NBA.
7. December 18, 2016: Wizards prove themselves against Clippers
Some would argue the Wizards' Sunday afternoon win over the Clippers in December was among the biggest turning points of their season. At the time, L.A. was one of the very best teams in basketball. But the Wizards beat them convincingly behind 41 points (including 6 threes) by Beal and 23 points, nine rebounds and three steals by Morris. Morris' defense on Blake Griffin in the fourth quarter also helped seal the victory for Washington, who improved to 12-14 and secured their first three-game winning streak of the season.
6. March 25, 2017: Wall explodes as Wizards win at Cavs
This was a nationally-televised game that many were waiting for. The Wizards had emerged as one of the best teams in the East and the Cavaliers did not take them lightly. Immediately, the Wizards imposed their will by shooting 82 percent in the first quarter. Wall set a career-high for one quarter with 18 points in the frame. He ended up with 37 on the night as the Wizards won in a 127-115 blowout that was not as close as the score would suggest. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers emptied their bench in consolation.
5. March 11, 2017: Morris beats Blazers in OT
This may rival the controversial Knicks game as one of the weirdest of the season. The Wizard came back from down 21 points and there were many standouts, as Wall had 39 points and Morris, Porter and Marcin Gortat all logged double-doubles. But it was all decided on a shot by Morris on the baseline that dropped in with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. A closer look at the replay revealed Morris stepped out of bounds before dribbling out of the corner to shoot. The refs could not review the play and the Wizards were given a victory that probably shouldn't have been theirs. If Morris was called out of bounds, the Wizards would have been down one point with little time left to play. The Blazers were understandably very upset about that.
4. February 6, 2017: OT loss vs. Cavs
The only loss to make this list, the Wizards overtime battle against the defending-champion Cavaliers was one of the best games of the entire NBA season. Afterwards, Scott Brooks called it an "instant classic." Not only did all the stars show up with great games, but LeBron James' fadeaway bankshot to send the game to overtime may go down as one of the best - or at least most difficult - of his career. The loss also snapped a 17-game home winning streak for the Wizards.
3. January 24, 2017: All-black game vs. Celtics
The game itself was nothing to write home about, as the Wizards destroyed the Celtics by 15 points behind Beal's 31. But the hype that preceded this one made it among the most memorable of the season. After beating the Hornets in Charlotte the night before, the Wizards announced they were going to wear all-black clothing to their rematch with the Celtics, their first meeting since Wall and Jae Crowder got into a postgame altercation that took their budding rivalry into overdrive. Sure enough, they did show up in all-black. The Wizards set the bar high for themselves and could have easily been embarrassed by a loss, yet they delivered on all accounts.
2. April 28, 2017: Wall's epic Game 6 vs. Hawks
This game was also pretty lopsided, as the Wizards beat Atlanta by 16. But it was a closeout game and in it Wall put in one of the best performances by a Wizards or Bullets player in decades. Wall was brilliant with 42 points, eight assists, four steals and two blocks. Most impressive were his 19 fourth quarter points, which set a new personal best for points in one quarter. Wall scored the Wizards' final 13 points to almost singlehandedly ensure they would advance a round in the playoffs.
1. May 12, 2017: Wizards win Game 6 vs. Celtics behind Wall's 3
This will go down as one of the best Wizards games in years, even though they ended up losing the series. Down 3-2 to the Celtics with their season on the line, the Wizards made key plays in the fourth quarter to stay alive. They also avoided the bad optics of a loss where the Celtics showed up in all-black and looking for revenge. To win, the Wizards had to come back from down five points with less than :90 seconds to go. Beal and Wall matched the Celtics, who couldn't miss in the final minute. And it all came down to Wall knocking down a three-pointer in Avery Bradley's face with 3.5 seconds left. One defensive stop later and Wall was on top of the scorer's table celebrating with a soldout crowd. It was an amazing moment and one that will be recalled for a long time by Wizards fans.
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 26, 18 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.
It’s been 145 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 107 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 18
—Training camp starts (7/27) 62
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 76
A top 10 team? Or No. 22?
Former Cowboys VP and current SiriusXM commentator and NFL.com writer Gill Brandt did a list of his top 10 NFL teams in terms of talent. At the top of the list was the consensus pick for the best team in the league, the New England Patriots. Also on the list were some of the regulars on lists like this one—the Steelers, Falcons, Cowboys, etc.
But the team at No. 10 on the list was something of a surprise. Since it’s being mentioned here you’ve probably figured out that it’s the Washington Redskins.
Brandt points out that they have a significant number of quality players in what should be the prime seasons of their careers, which he says, “portends good things”.
Judging talent is always subjective, especially when you don’t know how new players who arrived as free agents or draft picks will fit in. But good players are good players. Do the Redskins really have enough of them to stack up as a top-10 team?
One way to gauge this is to try to figure out how many of a team’s players could start for at least half of the other teams in the NFL. That is subjective but that’s what we do here so here we go.
On the offensive line, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses could start for most teams. Of the skill players, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, and Jamison Crowder are on the list.
Defense is a little trickier since not all the players in the front seven would be scheme fits everywhere. But I think it’s safe to say that most teams could find some way to utilize Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, and Zach Brown as starters. Josh Norman is probably the only member of the secondary who would qualify here although with as weak as the safety position is around the league you could make a case for D.J. Swearinger.
Not counting the safety, that makes a total of 10 who start for at least 16 teams, just less than half of the starters. There are some who could make it there is they take some steps towards reaching their potential. Brandy mentions Josh Doctson and Preston Smith. I would add Spencer Long and, if healthy, Junior Galette.
On the other side of the coin, where are the Redskins clearly below average? Left guard is the weak spot on the O-line. While the running backs aren’t awful I’m not sure many teams would trade their group for Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson. Despite the addition of Allen, the D-line remains suspect.
It is interesting to note that the Redskins are one of three NFC East teams on Brandy’s list; the Cowboys are fifth and the Giants are sixth.
You can look at the strong and weak points of the Redskins and write almost any 2017 storyline you want to. Peter King of The MMQB has his doubts about Pryor and Doctson being able to adequately compensate for the free agency losses of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson and his power ranking have Washington at 22nd.
Two respected analysts, two very different views of how the Redskins stack up in 2017. We have a little more than 100 days before we start to find out who’s right.
Tandler on Twitter
@Swkofie I still bet no, but the chances seem better than they ever have been.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) May 25, 2017
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