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Some bad news for Johan Santana

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Some bad news for Johan Santana

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana is done for the year, and to say he had an up-and-down season would be an understatement of Cy Young proportions. Explaining that their struggling ace is worn down from two years of rehabilitation and near-constant maintenance, the New York Mets placed Santana on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with inflammation in his lower back and said he is not expected to pitch again in 2012. Doctors recommended rest, but not surgery. "I wanted to keep pitching. I felt that I could pitch. But at the same time, I'm listening to them," Santana said. "They said that everything that I have done has been a lot. At some point I have to take some rest. At this point I think I agree with everything and we've just got to make sure we stay healthy and look forward to next year." The 33-year-old Santana missed last season following major shoulder surgery in September 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule. He got off to a strong start this year and pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history June 1 against St. Louis. But he threw a career-high 134 pitches in that game and is 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA since. "I don't have any second thoughts about the way it was handled," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "This has not been a shoulder issue. So from that standpoint, I just don't see a direct correlation." The tailspin got ugly after Chicago Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson stepped on Santana's foot on a play at first base July 6. Beginning with that outing, Santana went 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA in his final five appearances -- becoming the first Mets pitcher to give up at least six runs in five consecutive starts. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was 6-4 with a 2.76 ERA through June but ended up 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. He threw 117 innings in 21 starts. "At this point I'm very confident he'll be back next season and ready to go and hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this year," Alderson said. "If you look back at the season and what we reasonably could have expected at the beginning of the year, he's actually accomplished quite a lot. I think as we got close to midseason we recognized that, who knows how long Johan can go? "I can't sit here and say this is a shock or even a surprise. It's disappointing, but that's the nature of things," the GM added. "I don't believe that fewer innings would have preserved Johan. ... I don't think he was overused. There were times when he had extra rest." A few weeks after Johnson stepped on his foot, Santana was placed on the DL with a sprained right ankle. He was sidelined for three weeks, a stint that was also intended to recharge his surgically repaired shoulder. But in his first game back, Santana lasted only 1 1-3 innings against Atlanta -- the worst start of his career. He said Wednesday that he's been feeling tightness in his back for a couple of weeks, but it really stiffened up on him in his most recent outing last Friday at Washington. "The work he did to try to command stuff, the absolute effort he had to put in to make each pitch, wore him down. And so, that was obvious. And you just knew that some adjustments had to be made," manager Terry Collins said. "I think the rest is the perfect medicine for him right now." Santana had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed the inflammation and the left-hander was prescribed rest, medication and intermittent exercise. "There is no issue with his ankle, no issue with his shoulder," Alderson said. "Obviously, with a back problem and continuing to pitch, that itself could lead to problems with the shoulder or the ankle or an elbow, and that's another reason why we're trying to be cautious about this." Santana was placed on the DL retroactive to Saturday and New York will bring up right-hander Collin McHugh from the minors to start in his place Thursday against Colorado. So now, Santana will look toward 2013, the final guaranteed season of his 137.5 million, six-year contract. "I'm very positive that everything's going to be fine," he said. "It's too bad that I have to go down like this, but it's part of the game." The slumping Mets began the night 57-66. Santana said he will stay with the team through the end of the current homestand but after that, he's not sure. Alderson said he thinks Santana will want to head home to Florida to rest and then begin his offseason program. "He's healthy. All right, he's got a tweak in his back. With rest and his exercises, it'll go away. There's no reason to expect that next spring we don't have anything but probably the best condition he'll be in in a long time, with some rest and recuperation," Collins said. "He's looking at the season as a positive. I think we're in a good spot going into the winter. "It's time for a rest. But, when that rest is up, that rest is going to be over next February. And it's time to get after it." The Mets had recently committed to a six-man rotation with the intention of giving Santana and Chris Young extra rest, but Collins said they might go back to a five-man cycle now. The 25-year-old McHugh hopes to have his wife and parents in attendance for his big league debut Thursday. "It'll be fun," he said. NOTES: Alderson said OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, demoted to Triple-A Buffalo on July 29, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a partially torn plantar fascia.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.