Redskins

Baseball's first 10-game winners are ... who???

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Baseball's first 10-game winners are ... who???

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- R.A. Dickey nearly gave the New York Mets their second no-hitter in two weeks. Now that would have been something -- especially considering it took them more than 50 years to pitch their first one. Dickey allowed only an infield single during his second career one-hitter and broke the franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. The knuckleballer became the first 10-game winner in the majors, set a career best with 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The only hit the Rays managed came when speedy B.J. Upton hit a high bouncer in the first inning that third baseman David Wright was unable to field with his bare hand. Mets manager Terry Collins said the team would appeal the official scorer's ruling on Upton's hit to the commissioner's office, but conceded it probably wouldn't change the result. "We said in the ninth inning that we've got to appeal that play. We're probably not going to win it, but ... what the heck," Collins said. "What have you got to lose except to have somebody say no?" Johan Santana held St. Louis hitless on June 1, the first no-hitter in the Mets' 51-year history. Dickey was just as dominant Wednesday -- if not more so. " If anybody deserved a no-hitter or a perfect game tonight, it was him," Collins said. Dickey (10-1) ran his career-best shutout streak to 32 2-3 innings before yielding an unearned run in the ninth. That topped the previous club mark of 31 2-3 scoreless innings in a row set by Jerry Koosman in 1973. "I always try to be consistent. That means a lot to me, to be consistent and trustworthy. And it makes me feel good that my team feels like they've got a chance to win every time out," said Dickey, who also pitched a one-hitter against Philadelphia at Citi Field on Aug. 13, 2010. "The streaks and the special things that happen along the way are just the manifestation of that, of wanting to be consistent and wanting to really be good at my craft. I still have a passion for it. I'm still looking for things to do with the knuckleball." After Upton's hit, the 37-year-old knuckleballer permitted only one other baserunner, on a throwing error by Wright in the ninth. "We're two plays from a perfect game," Collins said. "I've seen a lot of things. I've not seen a perfecto. Today I saw as close to that as I've ever been around in my 42 years. It's amazing, just truly amazing what he's done. To think two years ago this guy was the first guy cut from this club to where he's at today, I absolutely salute the guy." Dickey outpitched AL wins leader David Price (8-4). In his last five outings, the right-hander has struck out 50 and walked three. He is 8-0 in his past 10 starts. "He's at a different level right now. It's amazing what he's been able to do," Wright said. "It just seems like each outing he's getting better and better. It's fun to be a part of." Besides the good fortune for Upton, Tampa Bay didn't come close to getting another hit. In fact, the Rays only managed to hit five balls out of the infield all night -- three routine fly balls to center field and one each to left and right. "Did you notice he was tipping all of his pitches?" Rays manager Joe Maddon joked. "Did you happen to pick up on that? "We were just the latest victim. He's done that to a lot of teams more recently," Maddon added. "He's really good right now. He has this uncanny ability to throw it around the strike zone for strikes. He's a different cat. He's got a hot knuckleball." Wright said he might have tried to use his glove to make the play on Upton's grounder in the first if a slower runner had been trying to beat out the hit. The third baseman said he didn't know if he should have been charged with an error. "I tried to make the play. I didn't make it. It's as simple as that," Wright said. "I don't think I could have got him with the glove. I tried to barehand it. It hit the lip and skipped on me, and I didn't make the play. If they want to go back and give me an error, they can do that." Dickey, whose eight straight wins also are a career best, lost his shutout in the ninth. Elliot Johnson reached on Wright's throwing error, then advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Mike Nickeas before scoring when Desmond Jennings grounded out. "Mike is really upset about it, but he did a great job. It's not easy to catch him," Collins said. "He was apologizing profusely at the end of the game," Dickey said. "It's hard back there, especially when it was moving like it was tonight. ... He had done a great job all night. It's just that last inning that kind of got away from him a little bit, but he worked his tail off." Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla drove in two runs apiece for the Mets. Nickeas ended an 0-for-14 drought with an RBI single, and Vinny Rottino and Ike Davis also drove in runs for New York, which has rebounded from being swept by the Yankees in a weekend series to win two straight from Tampa Bay by a combined score of 20-3. Wright capped a 14-hit outburst with a two-run double in the ninth. Price, who is tied for the AL wins lead, allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings. He walked three and struck out eight. According to STATS LLC, the starting pitching matchup was only the second since 1921 to feature the AL and NL wins leaders during the regular season. The other was Boston's Josh Beckett and San Diego's Jake Peavy on June 24, 2007. The Rays said it has only happened three times in the last 50 World Series, with Atlanta's John Smoltz facing the Yankees' Andy Pettitte in 1996, Toronto's Jack Morris facing Atlanta's Tom Glavine in 1992 and the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax going against the Yankees' Whitey Ford twice in 1963. NOTES: Collins was selected to serve as one of the NL coaches for the All-Star game. ... Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup for the second straight night. The second baseman has a sore right hand that was injured while sliding into second base at Miami on Sunday, but Maddon said Zobrist did not play Tuesday night because he was ill. ... Rays DH Luke Scott, who has not started the last seven games, is day to day with a stiff back. ... Mets LF Jason Bay went 1 for 5 and is 1 for 21 since returning from a long stint on the disabled list with a broken rib.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The game plan called for Lance Lynn to spend his first full season in the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen. Instead, the young right-hander has emerged as one of the game's best pitchers of any age. The 25-year-old Lynn struck out a career-high 12 despite back tightness to stay tied for the major league lead in wins, and Carlos Beltran hit his NL-best 19th home run Wednesday night to send the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox that ended Chicago's eight-game road winning streak. "Every time I go out there I think like it's 0-0, whatever inning it is and whoever's up. You don't want to give up a hit ever, or a run ever," Lynn said after outdueling Jake Peavy. "I was able to keep them off the board." Paul Konerko grounded into a game-ending double play with runners on first and third against Jason Motte. "I knew they had it," Lynn said. "It was a little interesting, but it was fun." Motte pounded Konerko inside before the cleanup man hit a bouncer to third. "If he's hitting his spots it's tough to put a good swing on it," Konerko said. "A little deceptiveness, but more than anything he was just hitting spots." Beltran homered in the third inning off Peavy (6-2) and had three of the four hits for the Cardinals, who have scored only seven runs in the last five games and totaled a single run for the third straight game. They've won just five of 14. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he almost scratched Beltran, who has been bothered by stomach issues, before the game. "Mike wanted to take me out of the lineup and I said yesterday I played like that, and I was fine," Beltran said. "Today was good." Lynn (10-2) allowed three hits in 7 1-3 innings and joined Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as the only 10-game winners in the majors. Dickey threw a one-hitter at Tampa Bay earlier in the night. Lynn replaced injured Chris Carpenter in the rotation. He topped his previous career best of 11 strikeouts while going six innings during his last start at Houston. Beltran has been a force batting second, hitting 11 homers from that spot in 20 starts compared with seven long balls at cleanup in 32 games. All but five of his homers have come batting left-handed, and 11 have come with the bases empty. Peavy worked seven innings and gave up four hits with six strikeouts and two walks in the hard-luck loss, retiring 13 of his last 14 hitters. He had entered an American League-best 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA on the road and had won six in a row away from home with a 1.44 ERA overall dating to Aug. 7, 2011. Like Lynn, who said his back has been bothering him for about a week, Peavy came into the game at less than full strength. Peavy said he's been ill the last few days. "I had some kind of concoction that got me through the night," Peavy said. "I had to throttle back and maybe that helped me a little bit mechanically. "They were aggressive and they were swinging and we got some quick outs. It just wasn't meant to be tonight." Marc Rzepczynski got pinch-hitter Adam Dunn to ground sharply into a double play to end the eighth and Motte finished for his 12th save in 15 chances. Matheny went right back to Rzepczynski, a night after Dunn homered in the eighth inning to help the White Sox pull away for a 6-1 victory. "That's good, I wanted to face him," Rzepczynski said. "It's one of those things, when a guy gets you, you want to go out there and face him the next day and have a chance to get him out." Dunn, a pregame lineup scratch due to a slightly sprained ankle, has grounded into just two double plays. Dunn said he injured his ankle homering off Rzepczynski. Matheny gave Lynn a vote of confidence when he let him bat with two outs and none on in the seventh. Lynn struck out Alexei Ramirez for the third time to open the eighth, then was lifted after Orlando Hudson singled up the middle. Lynn's strongest save came in the fifth when Alex Rios was stranded at third after a leadoff triple. Lynn struck out three of the next four, fanning Peavy after a two-out intentional walk to Hudson. The Cardinals had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position against Peavy, whose biggest out was striking out David Freese after consecutive two-out walks to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the third. NOTES: St. Louis' Matt Carpenter (right side) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis on Thursday and could join the team next week. Carpenter has started at 1B, 3B and RF and said "for me, it's not like it's going to take a week of at-bats." ... Cardinals 2B-OF Skip Schumaker (strained right hamstring) began a rehab assignment with Memphis and could return from the disabled list on time. ... Peavy has allowed seven homers in his last eight starts after giving up just one in his first five outings. ... Peavy has been getting an average of 6.1 runs of support per nine innings. ... Alejandro De Aza had two hits and is 11 for 27 (.407) during a six-game hitting streak.

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Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

As June minicamp concluded, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pulled no punches when asked about expectations for new quarterback Alex Smith. 

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said of Smith. 

While that might not sound overly demanding, remember this is Smith's first season in Washington. The QB will be playing with new teammates and implementing new terminology. 

Still, Smith is a veteran with a lot of experience, and frankly, it seems like Gruden isn't worried about a transition period. 

"We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now," the coach said. "This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

Gruden made things quite clear. He expects the best from Smith, yesterday. 

Those comments created headlines, but there was something else the coach said about his passer that also stood out. Asked about Smith's veteran presence, Gruden talked about what the quarterback might mean for his teammates. 

"The whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody," Gruden said. "He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs."

The coach continued, and things got a bit more interesting.

"He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out."

Redskins fans are often a weirdly divided bunch. Many liked former QB Kirk Cousins but plenty did not think he was worth the type of money he was paid the last two seasons. Along the way, some fans will read Gruden's comments about making something happen and taking responsibility as a jab at Cousins. That's probably wrong. 

Remember, Trent Williams played through a serious knee injury last season. Asked why, Williams said he wanted to be out there to protect Cousins. Guys played for Cousins. 

The responsibility comment might mean something else, though. Their was a rather hostile back-and-forth last season between Gruden and Cousins last season, when the QB and coach disagreed about taking more risks with the football. A quick reminder of the scene: Cousins told a reporter that he would throw 20 interceptions if he played like Gruden wanted. The coach responded that while the interceptions might pile up, the QB would also throw 60 touchdowns. (Relive it here)

Throughout his career, Smith has thrown less interceptions than Cousins. But that doesn't mean Smith doesn't take risks or put his receivers in position to make plays. 

It's entirely possible Gruden simply expects Smith, a veteran, to be a responsible player and leader. And it's likely that comment had nothing to do with the Redskins previous quarterbacks. 

The bottom line is that Smith better be ready to go Week 1, and his coach made that clear. And if Smith isn't, Gruden expects his quarterback to take responsibility. 

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John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

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USA TODAY Sports

John Carlson agrees to big-money deal to stay with the Capitals

On Friday, the Capitals shipped out Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to clear space on the salary cap for John Carlson's massive contract extension.

On Sunday night, Carlson signed on the dotted the line. 

The 28-year-old became the latest core Cap to sign a long-term deal, inking an eight-year extension that will carry an $8 million average salary. 

His cap hit is now the second highest on the team—behind Ovechkin’s $9.538 million charge and just ahead of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million hit.

With Carlson locked up, the defending Stanley Cup champion now has the majority of its core signed through at least the 2019-20 season. Among the players with at least two years remaining on their deals are forwards Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nickas Backstrom and Lars Eller, defensemen Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Carlson news did not come as a surprise.

The Caps wanted to keep him. Carlson, who makes his offseason home in Washington, wanted to stay with the club that drafted him 27th overall in 2008. And on Friday night in Dallas, GM Brian MacLellan all but guaranteed that a deal was going to happen when he said, “We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

It ended up taking a little more than 24 hours, but in the end MacLellan got his D-man.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” said MacLellan in a statement on Sunday. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime.”

Indeed, Carlson notched a career-high 15 goals and 53 assists last season, and his 68 points led all NHL defensemen. He also became the eighth defensemen in Caps’ history to record 60 points in a season and the first since Mike Green accomplished the feat in 2009-10. Meanwhile, Carlson’s average ice time (24:47) also marked a career high.

“As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams,” MacLellan added. “We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement and for him to continue his great career as a Washington Capital.”

With Carlson under contract, the Caps now have a little more than $13 million in cap space underneath the $79.5 million ceiling, according to www.capfiendly.com. Michal Kempny, Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson and Jakub Jerabek are all unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

Carlson’s also signing kicks off a big week for MacLellan.

In addition to negotiating with the free agents he hopes to retain, he’s expected to have a formal interview with associate coach Todd Reirden, who is the leading candidate to replace Barry Trotz as head coach.

So buckle up, there figure to be a few more important announcements in the coming days.

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