Carson expected to help Sun Devils improve

Carson expected to help Sun Devils improve

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Almost every time something went wrong for Arizona State last season, and it happened a lot, the social media sites lit up with Jahii Carson's name.

The Sun Devils committed a turnover? Don't worry, that won't happen when Jahii starts playing. Shots not falling? Jahii will make them. Offense stagnating? Jahii will get it flowing again.

Popcorn stale? Jahii will be on it.

Jahii, Jahii, Jahii.

Well, Arizona State fans, you finally get your wish: Jahii is here and he's looking forward to living up to all that hype you've heaped on him.

Best part is, despite expectations that have reached nearly preposterous proportions over the past year, Carson might have the game to live up to them.

``Obviously like you, just like the community, we are excited about him being able to compete with us this year,'' Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. ``He is an extremely talented young man.''

Coming out of nearby Mesa High School, Carson was one of the top point guard prospects in the country.

For Sendek and his staff to convince him to play at Arizona State was a huge boost, boosting excitement around a program that had been mired in a run of mediocrity.

Then Carson got put on hold when he was declared academically ineligible last season, but all that did was further fuel the fervor.

In the year Carson was out, views of his highlight video on YouTube ballooned to nearly a half million and his Twitter followers climbed over 6,000. Arizona State fans saw him as a program savior.

Watch him play and it's easy to understand why.

A 5-foot-10 guard, he can play well above the rim, evidenced by the bounce-it-off-the-floor, behind-the-back, tomahawk dunk shown on his highlight video.

Carson is quick, blessed with a crossover dribble that turns ankles and has a deft eye for finding passing holes others can't see. He can also hit the 3 and has been working on a mid-range jumper.

Oh, yeah, he's got a little swagger to him, an I've-got-this calm in his voice, body language and game that doesn't have the hollow ring of false bravado.

Carson is good and he knows it.

``I definitely have a certain confidence and swagger about myself. I don't want to seem arrogant or cocky, but I definitely have a confidence about my game. I have a confidence about my teammate's game. I think that together, we can be something super,'' he said.

The Sun Devils certainly should be better.

Arizona State labored through it second straight losing season in 2011-12 and lost some key players from that team this year.

Leading scorer Trent Lockett transferred to Marquette to be closer to his ailing mother, sharpshooting guard Chanse Creekmur left to play football and forward Kyle Cain transferred to North Carolina-Greensboro.

Even without three players who accounted for more than 25 points per game, the Sun Devils expect to be better.

Joining Carson in the backcourt will be Evan Gordon, whose older brother, Eric, is a guard for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets. A 6-foot-1 junior who transferred from Liberty, Gordon was often the best shooter during practice last season and should give the Sun Devils a boost on the perimeter, not to mention one of the nation's best backcourts with Carson.

Arizona State also added Hawaii transfer Bo Barnes and returns Chris Colvin, a senior who can score and passes well at times, but needs to cut down on his turnovers.

Jordan Bachynski, a 7-foot-2 center, came on strong toward the end of the season, becoming more confident while scoring and snaring more rebounds.

Jonathan Gilling, a 6-7 forward from Denmark, was a nice surprise as a sophomore last season, dropping in 3-pointers and scoring in bunches, including a 21-point game against rival Arizona.

Sendek has indicated that he'll likely play more man-to-man defense this season and wants his team to push the pace as much as possible to take advantage of the athletes he has.

``I have said this all offseason, so it is not breaking news, but I would be surprised if anyone is able to push the ball any faster than Arizona State,'' Sendek said.

Out in front of the break with the ball will be Carson, the player Arizona State fans hope can live up to hype that's been building for over a year.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.


Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.


Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.


Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.


Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.