Orioles open second half with loss to Tigers


Orioles open second half with loss to Tigers

Saturday will be an important day for Jason Hammel. At 1 p.m., the Orioles right-hander will undergo an MRI on his right knee, the one thats bothered him through much of the season.For two months, Hammel has soldiered on. Hes gotten his starts moved a day or two, but never missing a turn. In the last month, it seemed to get better and was rarely asked about it.On Friday night, the knee knocked him out of a game for the first time.After he went to a 2-2 count on Brennan Boesch in the fourth inning, Hammel showed discomfort, and manager Buck Showalter quickly removed him.Hammels injury overshadowed the Orioles 7-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers before 35,566 at Oriole Park.The Orioles (45-41) have lost 10 of 14, and even though Nick Markakis returned after a six-week absence, their offense didnt.After getting shut out in their last two games before the four-day break, the Orioles had just six hitshalf of them in the last two innings when trailed by six runs.I was driving toward the plate and it didnt feel good. Something felt really bad. Its the same area as the injury was before. Its kind of just day-to-day, Hammel said in comments provided through a club spokesman.Hammel, usually one of the most willing interviews of all Orioles, couldnt speak directly to the press after the game because he was receiving treatment on the knee.It was something that just happened on that pitch, Hammel said. I mean, the normal things Ive been dealing with since the actual original injury happened; it hasnt changed. Nothing felt like a pop or anything like that.Showalter knew instinctively that something was wrong. He wouldnt let Hammel talk him into staying.I wasnt going to allow that, Showalter said.When Hammel left, he was trailing 2-1, and even though he gave up two runs on four first-inning singles, he wasnt throwing badly in his catchers opinion.On the pitch, I didnt see anything, but on the reaction afterwards, I knew that something didnt feel good, Wieters said.The pitch didnt look any different. It was almost a strike, but afterwards you could tell it was bothering him a little bit.Adam Jones is the only Oriole whos played every game, and hes watched Nolan Reimold, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis lost for extended periods of time.Theres always a sense of alarm, Jones said. Im a centerfielder. Im not a doctor.Doug Fister (4-8), who was recently voted as baseballs most underrated pitcher in a recent poll of players by Sports Illustrated, mowed the Orioles down.Nick Markakis played for the first time since May 29. He missed more than six weeks after he fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. With the top of the order a non-factor for much of the season, Showalter installed Markakis as the leadoff man for the first time in his career.He was 1-for-4 and had an RBI double.Chris Davis played his first game in left field, and was hitless in four at-bats. Davis was happy to see Markakis back, but felt badly to see Hammel leave early.I think weve had our share of that this year, Davis said. Getting Nicky back and having him healthy and being out in right field and then to see Hammel have to leave the game, it is definitely frustrating.After Markakis doubled to score Wilson Betemit with two outs in the third, Fister retired 12 straight until Wieters singled in the seventh with two gone.By then, the Tigers (45-42), winners of six straight, had a 7-1 lead.Hammel (8-6) gave up the run to Detroit in the first, and in the fourth, Luis Ayala allowed back-to-back doubles by Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn.In the fifth, Ayala allowed a breathtaking home run by Miguel Cabrera, his 19th. It landed high off the batters eye in center and was estimated at 454 feet, the fifth longest in Oriole Park history.Dana Eveland relieved Ayala and gave up a three-run home to Jhonny Peralta, his sixth, and Detroit led 7-1.Hammel has lost four straight.In seven innings, Fister allowed a run and three hits, striking out eight.The Orioles scored a run in the ninth on a walk by Adam Jones and a double by Wieters.
NOTES:-J.J. Hardy was hitless in four at-bats and is in an 0-for-23 quagmire.-Wei-Yin Chen (7-5, 3.93) pitches against Max Scherzer (7-5, 4.98) on Saturday. Game time is 4:15 p.m. -The ceremony to unveil Jim Palmers statue begins at 2:15 p.m. Gates open at 2 p.m.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.