Buck Showalter blamed it on a balk. Wei-Yin Chen said it was a home run. The Orioles lack of offense didnt help.In the end, the Orioles had another fine start and their second consecutive quiet night at the plate.The Orioles 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before 17,592 at Oriole Park was puzzling to Chen.He allowed a two-run home run to the Rays No. 9 hitter, Brooks Conrad, and gave up a third run because he balked B.J. Upton to second base in the sixth.The Orioles (51-46) had just three hits and no other baserunners until the ninth inning.Chen didnt understand what he did wrong. After he left the game, Chen went back to the video room and watched his move repeatedly, failing to see what he did to cause second base umpire Gary Darling to rule a balk.I have no idea. I have a standard routine when I was on the mound and I do the same routine every time, Chen said through his translator. Manager Buck Showalter wasnt pleased with Darlings call and found it hard to explain the reasoning to Chen.He was wiping his hand on his leg. Three umpires saw it and one guy just over-umpired it and called it a balk.Chen (8-6) allowed three runs and four hits in 6 23 innings. He walked three and struck out five. One of the walks to Upton was costly.After he walked Upton and balked him to second, Upton moved to third on Ben Zobrists bunt and scored on Jeff Keppingers single.That made the score 3-1.Conrads home run to left, his second, in the fifth made it 2-1.Thats the big mistake I made today, Chen said. I think thats the first and only mistake I make today.For the seventh straight game, the starter pitched well, but only the first five resulted in victories.Three hits. Its going to be tough to win many games, Showalter said.The three hits were Wilson Betemits second-inning single, Adam Jones fourth-inning home run and Nick Markakis sixth-inning double.Jones home run was his 23rd of the season and gave Chen a momentary 1-0 lead. The mammoth home run landed in the visitors bullpen and was estimated at 445 feet.I hit it good, but it comes in a losing effort, so it doesnt matter to me, Jones said.The Orioles have supported Chen poorly. Nine times in his last 13 starts, the team has scored three or fewer.Hopefully we can pick it up here and score some runs for those guys when they give us outings like that, Matt Wieters said.Wieters was 0-for-4, and is now 1-for-23. He put the ball in play just once, and struck out against Tampa Bay (50-47) closer Fernando Rodney with two runners on base to end the game.We just missed him tonight, Wieters said.Jeremy Hellickson (5-6) worked 6 13 innings, allowing the three hits, striking out four and walking none. It was his first win since May 16. Hes now 5-2 against the Orioles.Jake McGee relieved Hellickson, and he struck out the two batters he faced, and Joel Peralta retired the Orioles in the eighth.Rodney saved his 28th game in 29 opportunities when he pitched a scoreless ninth for Tampa Bay (50-47). It wasnt easy. After Markakis grounded back to Rodney, J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome walked, Jones and Wieters struck out to end the game.Besides the last few days, weve put up some runs. We ran into Justin Masterson, we ran into Hellickson. They dont have good ERAs for no reason, Jones said.Weve got David Price and James Shields the next two days. We know thats not easy. Everybody knows its not easy. But, hey its a test we have to pass.NOTES:-Chris Davis is 1-for-14, and hes struck out in his last six at-bats. Hes struck out three times in four of his last eight games. Davis is batting .256, his lowest since Apr. 13.-The Orioles have allowed three or fewer runs in seven straight games. The last time they did that was Sept. 28, 2000-Apr. 5, 2001.-Brian Roberts has stepped up his rehab program in Sarasota, Fla. Roberts has deferred surgery on his right hip in the hope he can avoid it.-Stu Pomeranz, whose rehab from an oblique strain has been delayed, should be able to begin throwing on Thursday in Sarasota, Showalter said.-Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 2.61) pitches against David Price (13-4, 2.64) on Wednesday.
It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.
The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).
Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.
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CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.
TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.
S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.
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RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.
DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.
The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.
Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.
Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.
There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.
Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.
The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.
Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.
“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”
For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.
But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.
The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.
If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.
Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.
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In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.
The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.
"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."
Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.
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