NCAA

Garcia young, but with playoff experience

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Garcia young, but with playoff experience

The Nationals were able to escape Game 1 with the win on Sunday despite one of Adam Wainwrights best starts since returning this season from Tommy John surgery. In Game 2 they will face left-hander Jaime Garcia, a younger pitcher who happens to have more experience in the postseason.

Garcia will be making his sixth career postseason start after starting five different games in the Cardinals 2011 World Series run. But despite being part of their championship team, St. Louis got mixed results from Garcia throughout the playoffs.

In the NLDS last season, Garcia was good in his first career postseason start. He took the ball in Game 3 of a tied series with the Philadelphia Phillies and kept them scoreless into the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh Ben Francisco hit a three-run homer with two outs, it gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead and they ended up winning 3-2.

In the 2011 NLCS, Garcia struggled against the Milwaukee Brewers. In Game 1 the 26-year-old allowed six earned runs in just four innings of work. He took the loss as Milwaukee ended up dropping nine runs in total for a 9-6 win. In Game 2 Garcia was better, he pitched 4 23 innings and allowed one earned run on seven hits. Tony La Russa turned to his bullpen early and the Cardinals kept Milwaukee at one run in a 7-1 win.

Garcias performance in the World Series was also up-and-down. He pitched masterfully in Game 2 by keeping the Texas Rangers scoreless through seven innings. The Cardinals ended up losing in a ninth inning rally after he had left the game. Garcia also started the memorable Game 6 and lasted just three innings after allowing two runs early. The Cardinals were able to come back several times that night to get the win.

Garcias 2012 season started and ended well, and included a near two-month absence due to a shoulder injury. Garcia went 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in April before struggling in May. He made just one start in June before going on the disabled list.

Garcia returned in August with a rough stretch that included his only matchup this season with the Nationals. On August 30 Garcia lasted 5 13 innings at Nationals Park, but allowed six earned runs in total including two homers. Bryce Harper hit one of them, a two-run shot in the first, and then Jayson Werth added a solo homer in the fifth. The six earned runs allowed tied Garcias season high.

After facing the Nationals Garcia really hit his stride in September. He made six starts in September and went 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings pitched. He lasted at least six innings with three earned runs or less in five of those six outings. Garcias final start of the season was on October 1, he went 6 23 innings with two earned runs allowed at home against Cincinnati.

When the Nationals face Garcia it will be at Busch Stadium where Garcia has pitched his best games. At home this season he went 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA in nine starts. Compare that to his 5.02 ERA in 11 starts on the road and there is a clear difference.

Some of the data suggests Garcia should have an advantage in Mondays game, but the Nationals were able to give him one of his worst outings back in August. If they can get to the lefty early in the game, Garcia could be treated with a short leash as it worked for St. Louis in last years postseason.

Pittsburgh at Wake Forest How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Pittsburgh at Wake Forest How to Watch: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Pittsburgh Panthers are gelling as a football team, winning three straight games heading into this weekend. Pitt is now 5-1 in the ACC this season, and they currently sit atop the standings in the Coastal Division.

They'll be looking to make it four in a row by beating the Demon Deacons, who are 2-4 in  conference play and 5-5 overall. Wake Forest won their first two games of the year, and have gone 3-5 since, though they are coming off a strong 27-23 victory at 14th-ranked NC State last week.

Still, Pitt is favored by 6.5 points. A win today would help the Panthers maintain control of their own destiny within the ACC Coastal.

Here's how to watch.

PITT PANTHERS vs. WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Unviersity of Pittsburgh Cavaliers at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Where: BB&T Field, located in Winston Salem, NC.

When: Saturday, November 17 at 12 p.m. EST

TV Channel: The Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

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Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

Tom Wilson does the little things in Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win at Colorado

To call it a hit is generous. To call it a huge play is accurate. 

Capitals forward Tom Wilson backed into a loose puck along the boards in the defensive zone of Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. He waited for a hit sure to come from behind. 

Colin Wilson, the Avalanche center, moved in to dislodge the puck. Instead he got dislodged from gravity. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tom Wilson, barely moving and braced for contact, used his own leverage to launch Colin Wilson into the air, arms and legs akimbo. 

By the time Colin Wilson crashed to the ice, Tom Wilson had chipped a blind backhand pass to center ice, where Alex Ovechkin stopped it with his skate, dropped it to teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who gave it back as they entered the offensive zone. Ovechkin crossed from left to right and ripped a shot past former teammate Philipp Grubauer in goal for Colorado. 

It was a wonderful pass from Backstrom, who put the Avalanche on their heels. Ovechkin’s shot was a bullet that left little chance for Grubauer. But make no mistake – it all started with Wilson, who was prepared to take a hit to make a play. It is those little things that the Capitals missed during Wilson’s 16-game suspension by the NHL. It was the little things that helped them to a 3-2 overtime victory.  

“[Wilson] brings so much energy to this group,” Backstrom said. “He’s everywhere out there. That’s what we need. He’s playing PK, he’s playing power plays, he’s doing everything. He’s a valuable guy in this group so we’re happy to have him back.”

The game-winning goal in overtime by Backstrom was a perfect example. Wilson took a drop pass from defenseman John Carlson 12 seconds into overtime with Washington on a 4-on-3 power play. That’s when he went to work. 

For six seconds Wilson and Avalanche center Carl Soderberg did battle along the right boards high in the offensive zone. Just as Wilson was knocked to the ice, he slipped a pass back to Backstrom alone at the point. 

With Soderberg on top of him and both out of the play, Wilson watched Backstrom take advantage of the extra space in what effectively became a 3-on-2. He passed to Carlson in the right faceoff circle and then got the puck back in the high slot and beat Grubauer blocker side for the win. That doesn’t happen without Wilson. 

“When you’re playing with good players, you just try and keep it simple, win your battles and they’ll do the rest,” Wilson said. “And that’s exactly what happened on both those plays. At the end there, I thought about throwing it across the ice a couple times, but I’m not that comfortable out there yet so just kind of ragged on the wall and waited. Nicky got open for me and made it easy, I just threw it over to him and it was in the back of the net.”  

The Ovechkin goal put Washington ahead 2-1 at 18:29 of the second period. The Backstrom winner came 22 seconds into overtime. Wilson, in his third game back after his original 20-game suspension was reduced by a neutral arbitrator, played a career-high 24 minutes, 24 seconds. He moved to the power play for 4:19 with T.J. Oshie out with an upper-body injury and contributed 1:35 on the penalty kill – a little less than usual. 

Wilson played on the PK for 5:23 in his first game back Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. He scored a goal in that game, too, by driving the net hard and has been a jolt of energy for a team that was scuffling coming into a difficult four-game road trip. The Capitals are 2-1-0 with one game left Monday at the Montreal Canadiens. 
 
“Tom is one of those guys that was vocal in our room, vocal on the bench that we’re fully in control of that game still even though we gave up the late goal,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “But that’s a tough start [after the suspension], three in four, and then add in the altitude and the minutes that we’re counting on him playing because they aren’t easy minutes. And then obviously having to chase around that top line tonight from Colorado is no easy task. Just really happy with the fact that we got him back a little earlier than was originally set up for us. It’s been a good bounce for our team.” 

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