Nationals

Holliday doubtful, Porter out for Broncos-Chiefs

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Holliday doubtful, Porter out for Broncos-Chiefs

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Kick returner Trindon Holliday is doubtful for the Denver Broncos' season finale against Kansas City because of a sprained ankle.

The injury has sidelined him all week and prevented him from working on ways to cut down on fumbling. He has five fumbles on returns to go with touchdowns on a punt return and a kickoff return.

Coach John Fox said the cure for that is ``you just practice. You work on it. No different than a running back or quarterback as far as in the pocket, receivers after they catch the ball. Anytime you have that ball, you have the other 10 guys' best interest in hand. It'll be something that we'll continue to work on.''

Jimmy Leonhard is expected to handle punt returns and Omar Bolden the kickoff returns if Holliday doesn't play Sunday against the Chiefs.

Cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) was ruled out for Sunday. He was injured last week just three snaps into his first game since Oct. 7. He had been sidelined after experiencing symptoms similar to those he had before a seizure during training camp.

``That's so unfortunate because he's been waiting for this opportunity to get back in there. And I just hope he's OK. I think he will be but only time will tell,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said.

Right guard Chris Kuper is 50-50 for Sunday after participating on a limited basis for the second straight day. He's been sidelined with a sprained left ankle and migraines.

Fox said he wasn't worried about Kuper's availability heading into the playoffs.

``He practiced for the first time yesterday and then today. I think he's making good progress,'' Fox said. ``He's been out for a little bit. We're just going to make sure he's ready to play football and we'll make that decision day to day.''

Kuper has played in just six games this season. He missed the first month with a broken forearm and five of the last seven games after spraining his left ankle, the same one in which he tore ligaments in a gruesome injury on New Year's Day.

Fox said he was pleased with the progress of running back Willis McGahee, who went on recallable IR after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Nov. 18 when he was tackled low by San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer.

McGahee is eligible to return to practice next week after missing the final six regular-season games but won't be available to play again unless the Broncos (12-3) reach the AFC championship.

``All indications are it's on schedule and he's getting better every day,'' Fox said of McGahee's rehab. ``He won't be ready here anytime real soon but we'll evaluate that as we get going and finish up the regular season.''

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MANNING FOR MVP? Peyton Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history, is in the conversation for a fifth MVP award this season. Consider: His stats this year are better than the average stats he put up during his four MVP seasons: 2003, `04, `08 and `09.

He averaged 370 completions in 547 passes (67.8) percent for 4,332 yards, 35 TDs and 12 interceptions with a 103.2 QB rating in his MVP years with the Indianapolis Colts.

This season, he's completed 337 of 554 passes (68.1 percent) for 4,355 yards, 34 TDs and 11 interceptions with a 103.7 QB rating.

``I think what separates Peyton in any kind of voting is he's had an exceptional year with a new team, new city and at arguably the most difficult job in pro sports, the quarterback position,'' coach John Fox said. ``It's unheard of, it's unprecedented. Nobody's ever done it.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

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USA Today Sports

Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jacob deGrom turned in a record 23rd consecutive quality start, lowered his ERA to 1.77 and boosted his record to .500 as he bids to earn the NL Cy Young Award, allowing one run in seven innings to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night.

Throwing fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, deGrom (9-9) struck out eight and walked one while allowing just one run and three hits, all singles. Bob Gibson (in 1968) and Chris Carpenter (2005) each had single-season runs of 22 quality starts, the previous major league mark.

The right-handed deGrom has given up as many as four earned runs in only one of his 31 starts in 2018, back on April 10 against Miami. He's now up to 28 in a row allowing three runs or fewer, the longest single-season streak in major league history.

So this game was pretty much wrapped up by the third inning, which ended with the Mets ahead 4-1. Jay Bruce had two run-scoring hits, and Devin Mesoraco and Dominic Smith also delivered RBIs, all off Joe Ross (0-1).

Robert Gsellman worked around Anthony Rendon's RBI single in the ninth for his 12th save.

Washington began the day in danger of being officially eliminated from contention in the NL East, which it won the past two seasons under then-manager Dusty Baker. A loss by the Nationals plus a victory by the Braves would end any chance Washington has of catching Atlanta.

DeGrom is locked in what's considered a tight race for Cy Young honors -- and perhaps league MVP consideration, too -- with Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Scherzer has won the past two Cy Young Awards in the NL, plus one in the AL when he played for the Detroit Tigers.

In the Mets' 5-4 victory in 12 innings Thursday, Scherzer gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13.

Entering Friday, deGrom boasted a majors-leading 1.78 ERA, 251 Ks and 45 walks, and ranked No. 1 in various other categories.

"I think that it says a lot about who he is as a worker. I think it says a lot about who he is as a competitor," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He tends to step it up when it matters the most, and this is probably mattering the most out of all his starts, and he continues to pitch just as dominant as he was before. That's the definition of a true ace."

DeGrom looked good from the outset, striking out leadoff hitter Victor Robles with a 98 mph fastball, then getting Bryce Harper to swing through a 99 mph offering to end the first inning. Harper missed a 93 mph slider to strike out again in the fourth, then grounded out on a chopper fielded by deGrom in the sixth.

Washington's only run off deGrom came on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly on a ball hit to the warning track in deep center field in the second.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: Mesoraco hadn't played since leaving a game Sept. 3 because of a bulging disk in his back. He was 3 for 3 with a walk.

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in five games, because of what manager Dave Martinez said was a sore and stiff left knee, the one surgically repaired last season.

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!

Nationals 3B Rendon's second-inning walk extended his streak of reaching base safely to a career-best 29 games; he came around to score.

UP NEXT

RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.31 ERA) will start for the Mets on Saturday, while the Nationals wouldn't commit to a starting pitcher before Friday's game.

 

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3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

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3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

It was another rough start for the Capitals who not only have lost every preseason game they have played, but have still yet to hold a lead. Washington was only able to put one goal past the Carolina Hurricanes as a 3-1 first period deficit gave way to a 5-1 loss.

Despite the ugly result, however, there were some bright spots. Here are the players who impressed.

Liam O’Brien

In an era where everyone is trying to get faster, it really can make the physical players stand out. O’Brien certainly stood out on Friday and looked like the Caps’ best player. He threw his body around against the Hurricanes, but he wasn’t reckless either. O’Brien’s physicality opened up offense for his line. He finished the game with four hits, but also had six total shot attempts, three of which were on net.

At 24, it is critical for O’Brien to show he still has something to offer at the NHL level as the team adds more and more young prospects. He is unlikely to make the roster, but he is certainly making a case for a call-up this season.

Aaron Ness

Ness had the play of the night for the Capitals with his assist in the first period. He took a pass at the blue line and found some room to work in front of him. He skated up, drew the defense in with a head fake and fed Nicklas Backstrom with the no-look pass. Backstrom netted the easy goal against the fooled Petr Mrazek.

Ness made the Caps out of camp last season and played eight games with the NHL squad. If the Caps are in need of a defenseman for a long-term call-up, some of the prospects are more likely to get the nod over Ness, but he remains a viable call-up for short-term spot duty.

Ilya Samsonov

In the first game of the Prospects Showcase tournament earlier this month, Samsonov had a shaky outing allowing five goals. He followed that game with a 21-save shutout in his second start of the tournament. In his first preseason contest on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, Samsonov allowed two goals on 11 shots and never really looked comfortable. On Friday, however, Samsonov came on for the third period and turned aside six of the seven shots he faced. The lone goal he allowed came on the power play as Valentin Zykov knocked the puck out of a scrum in front of the net to Jaccob Slavin on the back door.

The quick improvement from game to game from Samsonov has been impressive and he looked much more comfortable in net in his second preseason appearance.

Madison Bowey’s pants

Way to block that shot.

 

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