Nationals

Leach doesn't say who'll start at QB in Apple Cup

Leach doesn't say who'll start at QB in Apple Cup

Washington State coach Mike Leach took time on Sunday to explain how and why he makes good Thanksgiving gravy.

He failed to give any explanation as to who will be his starting quarterback the day after Thanksgiving when Washington State hosts rival Washington in the Apple Cup, not yet ready to make a decision about whether Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday will get the nod against the Huskies.

``They both have done some good things. They both have a level of inconsistency. Some of it has been musical quarterbacks and some of it has been my fault,'' Leach said during a conference call. ``But by the same token we try to get on the guy that is hot and that has been tough to identify.''

Tuel and Halliday played in Washington State's 46-7 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, the Cougars eighth straight loss. After putting a scare into UCLA a week earlier with a massive second-half rally that fell short, the Cougars (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) struggled in the desert against the Sun Devils and for the second straight road game that got out of hand in the opening minutes.

Tuel completed 8 of 16 passes for 63 yards, while Halliday was 13 of 33 for 173 yards. Both threw interceptions and Halliday had the only touchdown with a 54-yard TD pass to Kristoff Williams in the final minute of the game.

``I think we played hard, we just had some guys out of position at some times, didn't execute and the game just kind of got away from us,'' Washington State running back Carl Winston said.

The Cougars continued their maddening trend of playing competitively against the top of the Pac-12, only to follow up with a dud against others. The Cougars played even with Oregon and flustered Oregon State earlier in the season, only to follow up with a lackluster effort at home against California. Washington State was on the verge of an upset at Stanford, then responded by getting blown out at Utah.

And just last week, after all the unwanted attention from claims of abuse by former wide receiver Marquess Wilson, the Cougars staged a strong second-half rally that fell short 44-36 against UCLA.

Their answer to another strong performance against a top-tier squad? Washington State trailed 18-0 after one quarter and 46-0 after three quarters to the Sun Devils.

``It's definitely hard, kind of like (we) have mood swings,'' Washington State defensive back Deone Bucannon said.

Washington State needs a victory over the rival Huskies to avoid going winless in conference play for the second time in the last four seasons and to avoid yet another nine-game losing skid to close out a season. The Cougars lost their final nine games of the 2009 season, also the last time they were winless in conference play.

Even for being a program that has seen more struggles than successes in the past, going winless in conference play has been rarity. In the past 40 years, Washington State has been shutout in conference play only three times (1975, 1998, 2009).

While beating Washington wouldn't provide a remedy for all the problems the Cougars have faced in Leach's first year with an underperforming record and Wilson's claims, it would give at least some solace of optimism heading into the offseason.

``I'm kind of looking forward to it,'' Leach said. ``... I think they're already motivated. I think the biggest thing need to focus on is our effort, our work, our development.''

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Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

WASHINGTON -- With a broken nose, pronounced black eye and seven shutout innings, Max Scherzer provided a striking capper to the Washington Nationals' day-night doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Scherzer himself? He shrugged off his work in the Nationals' 2-0 victory Wednesday night as business as usual.

"Trust me, this thing looks a lot worse than it actually is," Scherzer said. "I felt zero pain. There's been plenty of other injuries where I felt a lot of pain and I've had to pitch through. I'll hang my hat on those starts, but tonight I felt zero pain. This is part of what you have to do. You take the ball every fifth time.

"That's my responsibility to the team, to make sure I always post, and I knew I could post tonight."

Brian Dozier and Victor Robles hit solo homers to support Scherzer (6-5) as Washington won for the 16th time in 23 games. Philadelphia has dropped seven of its last nine and 12 of 18.

In the first game, Patrick Corbin struck out eight while allowing one run over seven innings as the Nationals earned a 6-2 victory in the delayed series opener after the teams were rained out Monday and Tuesday.

Scherzer bunted a ball off his face during batting practice Tuesday, but it didn't stop him from making his scheduled start. His injury may have provided an extra layer of intimidation in the form of a black eye more worthy of a boxing ring than a baseball diamond.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner sported a pronounced bruise arcing beneath his right eye, adding another hue to a glare that already featured one blue eye and one brown eye.

"Going out there and throwing, the only thing I had to deal with was the swelling underneath the eye," Scherzer said. "It was kind of jiggling around, and so in warmups I just had to get used to knowing what it was feeling like to throw the ball and just have that swelling."

While he wasn't at his most efficient on a humid night, piling up 117 pitches, Scherzer was rarely threatened. He struck out 10, yielded only four hits and permitted just two runners to reach scoring position. And he finished strong, striking out three in a row after Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a double.

"It really is one of the most impressive things I've seen in a while," Dozier said. "He's probably the best pitcher in our generation, and you don't get that status unless you take the ball every fifth day, no matter if you're doing good, doing bad, you got a broken nose. You always want the ball."

Bryce Harper, Scherzer's former Nationals teammate, was 0 for 4 with four walks in the doubleheader and was loudly booed before each plate appearance -- especially in the better-attended nightcap. This series is his second trip back to Washington, where he played from 2012-18, since signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia in March.

Dozier belted a two-out solo shot in the second off Jake Arrieta (6-6), who allowed two hits and struck out three over six innings and had the misfortune of matching up with Scherzer on the wrong day.

"Max is just one of the best to ever toe the rubber, honestly," Arietta said. "We have ran into him a couple of times. That's just what he does. He is tough to square up, and he is throwing three or four pitches for strikes with electric stuff. Just a tough one."

Robles homered off reliever Pat Neshek in the eighth. Neshek departed two batters later with a left hamstring strain, and manager Gabe Kapler said he was likely to land on the injured list less than a week after returning from an absence of more than three weeks caused by a shoulder strain.

Wander Suero pitched a perfect eighth for Washington, and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 tries.

Philadelphia was 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position between the two games.

Corbin (6-5), whose start was pushed back twice this week, allowed a solo homer to Scott Kingery in the first inning of the opener. But he let just one other runner to reach third while ending a personal three-game skid.

"It's not ideal, but you have to deal with it to make sure you are ready," said Corbin, who is one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career. "I was glad we got that one in today."

Dozier and Gerardo Parra had RBI doubles against Phillies starter Zach Eflin (6-7). They later hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning off Cole Irvin to seal the victory.

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Ovechkin voted an NHL first-team All Star for the eighth time

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Ovechkin voted an NHL first-team All Star for the eighth time

Las Vegas always treats the Capitals well.

One year after winning the Stanley Cup at T-Mobile Arena, Alex Ovechkin was once again named a first-team All-Star at the annual NHL Awards ceremony and John Carlson took second-team honors. The event was held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  

The Pro Hockey Writers Association voted Ovechkin onto the first team for the eighth time – seven of those at left wing and one at right wing in 2012-13. He had 63 first-place votes and 459 total points to beat out Boston’s Brad Marchand (402) and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau (324) at left wing. It is his first appearance on the first team, however, since the 2014-15 season. Ovechkin has four times been named to the second team.  

Carlson’s second-team selection was the best showing of his career. He received the third-most points (428). Only San Jose’s Brent Burns and Calgary’s Mark Giordano, the Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman, received more to garner first-team honors. Carlson finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting. He was fifth in 2018. 

Ovechkin was seventh in the Hart Trophy voting for league MVP. He has won that award three times. He was presented with his eighth Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer. Ovechkin had 51 goals in 81 games. No other player has led the league in goals eight times. His eight 50-goal seasons trail only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who accomplished that feat nine times during their Hall-of-Fame careers.  

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