Nationals

Ford calls out freshman Murphy before Bedlam game

Ford calls out freshman Murphy before Bedlam game

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Just in time for the Bedlam rivalry game, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford is calling out freshman Kamari Murphy to get back on his game.

Murphy inherited the job as the Cowboys' starting power forward when Michael Cobbins broke his big toe at the start of the season, but his production has fallen off lately.

``He knows I'm not happy with him right now. He knows that,'' Ford said before practice Thursday. ``I'm not making any excuses for him. Freshman, senior, whatever, you're expected to perform at a level, especially when you've shown you can play at that level for us. He's done it at the beginning of the year.

``Freshmen have a little bit different mentality sometimes. They embrace success very quickly and can kind of get content a little bit. We're aggressively talking to him about that, but he knows I'm not happy with the way he's playing right now and he's not overly excited about it either.''

And Murphy isn't alone.

Ford's squad has scuffled after a hot start, dropping out of the Top 25 after back-to-back losses last week against ranked opponents. He wasn't much more pleased about a sloppy performance in a 63-45 victory against TCU on Wednesday night, with a season-worst 24 turnovers preventing the Cowboys (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) from doing more with a strong shooting performance.

``It was just disappointing for me. I was pretty upset,'' Ford said.

Ford said he was on the fence about whether to drop Murphy from the starting lineup because he's also seeking more consistency from Cobbins. Their next game is Saturday at Oklahoma (10-3, 1-0).

``That's a possibility. I haven't made any decisions yet,'' Ford said. ``But that's always something players want to shoot for and coaches know that's not a big deal. You couldn't have told me that, though, when I played. So, I understand that. I really didn't grasp that until I became a coach.''

Even though Murphy went scoreless in a loss to Gonzaga last week, that's not what Ford is concerned about. The Cowboys' three losses this season have come in games when they've been outrebounded by at least 10, and that's where Murphy can be a factor.

He had been averaging 6.9 rebounds through the first nine games of the season, but has had just one rebound in three of the past five games.

``His game's not based on scoring or based on anything like that,'' Ford said. ``What he can do, he can be consistent at. I can understand going into a shooting slump. But I don't accept things that you can control that you're not doing right now.''

Oklahoma State dominated rebounding 40-17 against TCU on Wednesday night. Ford said he thought the Cowboys were more focused on rebounding, but also that TCU didn't crash the boards that hard.

``I don't think we've reached the peak yet, but I feel like what we've been doing, we've been doing pretty well. Even without rebounding the ball, we still had big close games against top-ranked schools,'' Markel Brown said. ``I think we're doing pretty good as of now, but it can get better.''

The Sooners have won eight straight on their home court in the series. Oklahoma State hasn't won in Norman since 2004, when it went on to win the Big 12 championship and reach the Final Four.

``This game is never an easy game for us,'' Brown said. ``So, we're going to have to be prepared no matter what.''

It'll be the Bedlam debut for Murphy and fellow freshmen Phil Forte and Marcus Smart, the Cowboys' second-leading scorer.

``I could feel the atmosphere from just sitting on my couch watching it. You could just feel how crazy and how loud and how everything was going,'' Smart said. ``It looked fun to play in. I'm very excited and can't wait to play in it.''

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What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

This is the Nationals’ first time in Miami this season, and the team finished with a 3-2 loss against the Marlins on Friday night. Here are a few things to look for as they enter the second game of the three-game series against the Floridians: 

  1. Friday night’s situational hitting was poor, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas reported. The Nats left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.However, the Nationals’ offense has changed this season. This was exemplified in Friday’s series opener against the Marlins, in which both Adam Eaton and Victor Robles bunted to get hits.
  2. Eaton singled on a bunt in the first inning, eventually scoring on a Juan Soto RBI single, while Robles also reached base safely in the third following Eaton’s strategy and then stole a base. These creative plays helped get men on base, but again, more often than not they stayed there. Brian Dozier hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning, a solo shot which gave the Nats their second and final run of the night. Dozier had a rough start to the season, and after Friday’s game, he has just two RBIs – both via solo homers. He has a batting average of .182, and he’s lost playing time to Howie Kendrick as the season has moved forward. Kendrick has a batting average of .477, the highest on the roster.
  3. Anthony Rendon continued his hit streak, extending it to 17 games with a double Friday. This is the longest hitting streak in the MLB this season, as well as the third baseman’s personal record. Within the organization, Rendon is chasing Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush’s record, which stretched to 33 consecutive hits in 1933. Can he get another on Saturday?

 

Download the MyTeams app for coverage from NBC Sports Washington of the Nationals/Marlins game on Saturday. The game broadcast will be at 6:10 PM ET on 106.7 the Fan and MASN2. 

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

The Washington Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins, 3-2, Friday night to drop back to 9-9. Here are five observations from the game...

1. For all the offseason efforts at improvement, winning the National League East could come down to its one member which is trying to lose.

The four spenders each play Miami 19 times. By the end, going 11-8 against the in-the-tank Marlins may become a lamentable part of some team’s 2019 legacy. They either brought in a marquee pitcher, a generational outfielder or a former MVP third baseman. But they didn’t do enough against the Marlins, costing themselves the single, taut playoff spot that emerges from the division. It’s a viable storyline to project.

The Nationals took their first negative step toward that fate Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

The situational hitting was poor -- Washington left 10 runners on base. The starting pitching was so-so -- Anibal Sanchez took the loss. The bullpen made one dire mistake -- Matt Grace’s first pitch hit left-hander Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded, forcing in the decisive run. The luck wasn’t great -- Caleb Smith, a quality left-hander marooned in Miami as the staff’s best pitcher, was on turn. Anticipate him representing Miami at the All-Star Game this season.

Brian Dozier homered. Mark that in the positive column. Joe Ross pitched two innings of quality relief. Put him next to Dozier.

Otherwise, the loss was sigh-worthy for a team trying to lurch forward, ending its up-and-down run of the first three weeks.

2. Another day, another hit for Anthony Rendon.

His sixth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest in Major League Baseball this season. It’s also an extension of a personal best for Rendon.

Rendon’s 15 extra-base hits in 17 games is a Nationals/Expos record.

Who is he chasing for the organization’s hit streak record? Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush, who hit safely in 33 consecutive games back in 1933.

Manush played for the Senators from 1930-1935. He hit .336 when he set the Washington record for consecutive game with a hit. He led the league in triples (17) and hits (221) that season.

Manush won a batting title in 1925 when he hit .378 for Detroit. Rendon is currently hitting .377 in the opening weeks of the season.

3. Sanchez was ok. Not great, not terrible. Just ok.

He lasted 5 ⅓ innings, allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out six. His ERA is 4.91.

Regression for Sanchez this season was expected. His 2.83 ERA in Atlanta last season came strongly against the current of his previous pitching. Sanchez had a 5.67 ERA over the three prior seasons.

However, this has been a leap back, a full two runs in arrears of last season’s ERA. More troubling than the ERA is Sanchez’s path through lineups. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate down.

As the season moves along, a comparison point for Sanchez will be the results of left-hander Wade Miley in Houston. The Nationals made a multi-year offer to Miley which was better than the offer he eventually settled on with the Astros, according to a source. Miley ended up signing for just one year in Houston because the free agent market went south, and Washington quickly pivoted to Sanchez. Keeping track of the two via ERA-plus (which accounts for park factors) during the season will be a fun exercise. Coming into Friday, Miley was by far the better pitcher in that department, 129 to 95. Another bloated outing from Sanchez only increased that gap.

4. The Nationals hoped to play a different brand of offense this season. They wanted to deploy more athleticism, using speed and contact to produce runs.

They took the idea to the extreme Friday. Adam Eaton and Victor Robles both bunted for hits. Eaton scored Washington’s first run after reaching base via his drag bunt up the first base line.

Robles stole second and ended up on third following his bunt in the same direction in the third inning.

Creative work at the plate for both.

5. Another bullpen twist hit Friday. Austen Williams was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained right AC joint. Austin Adams was called up to replace him.

Williams had a disastrous outing Wednesday in the Nationals’ 9-6 win over the Giants. He allowed four earned runs -- on two home runs -- after the Nationals entered the ninth inning with a 9-2 lead. Williams’ inability to get an out in the ninth eventually forced closer Sean Doolittle into a game he never should have entered.

Doolittle’s entrance also complicated the current series in Miami. He pitched back-to-back games to close the series against San Francisco. His Friday availability was in question because of that, though the Nationals didn’t end up needing him.

The right-handed Adams, 27, joins the team from Triple-A Fresno. He struck out 12, allowed a hit and didn’t give up an earned run in his six innings with the Grizzlies.

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