Nationals

Miscues, missteps have Steelers reeling

201211251534560836142-p2.jpeg

Miscues, missteps have Steelers reeling

PITTSBURGH (AP) Charlie Batch paused last week when he was asked if he could make the same throws he did a decade ago.

``No!'' the soon-to-be 38-year-old Steelers backup quarterback said before bursting into laughter.

Turns out, he was right.

Passes fluttering in the late fall wind, Batch tossed three interceptions - two in the fourth quarter - in Sunday's comically bad 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh turned it over eight times, committed nine penalties and scored two measly touchdowns against a team it had beaten in 16 of the last 17 meetings.

``I put the game on my shoulders to try and go down and put my team in the end zone and I wasn't able to do that,'' Batch said.

The loss is hardly on Batch's shoulders - not when the Steelers (6-5) fumbled the ball away five times - but with the Browns daring Batch to beat them with his arm by stacking the line of scrimmage to shut down the running game, Batch's ineffectiveness showcased just how ramshackle the Steelers can look without injured starter Ben Roethlisberger under center.

It's uncertain if Roethlisberger's sprained right (throwing) shoulder will be ready to go next Sunday at rival Baltimore (9-2). What is certain? The Steelers - arguably the hottest team in the league after a road victory over the New York Giants three weeks ago - have run out of any wiggle room if they want to make the playoffs.

The Steelers are tied with Cincinnati for the AFC's second wild card spot with five weeks remaining in the regular season. Pittsburgh's remaining schedule includes a trip to Dallas and visits from San Diego and the Bengals in addition to Sunday's journey to Baltimore, where the Steelers have won just twice in their last nine visits.

``It leaves us in a little bit of a hole,'' linebacker James Harrison said.

One that could be particularly difficult to crawl out of if Roethlisberger doesn't return soon. The Steelers have scored just two offensive touchdowns in the 10-plus quarters since he went down in the third quarter of a 16-13 overtime win against the Chiefs on Nov. 12.

Batch and fellow backup Byron Leftwich - out indefinitely with fractured ribs - have been rusty and the three-pronged rushing attack has gone nowhere. Coach Mike Tomlin insists there's no need to pick a feature back among Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, saying he has confidence in all three.

That confidence is all but gone after the trio managed 15 carries for 22 yards and three fumbles against the Browns.

``The running backs, we didn't do well, and we put (Batch) in bad situations,'' Dwyer said. ``We put our defense in bad situations. The running game was supposed to help Charlie out. We let him down.''

Injuries to right tackle Mike Adams and left guard Willie Colon didn't help matters, though the patchwork line had been one of the team's most pleasant surprises. Pittsburgh had a back top 100 yards three times during a four-game winning streak that helped the Steelers rebound from a 2-3 start, finding success with whomever they put out there.

Now, whomever they put out there can't hold onto the ball.

``We are going to play people that can secure the football, but after everybody does it, obviously there aren't very many choices left,'' Tomlin said.

And his team has no choice but to shore things up - quickly - if it wants to play into January, though at this point Pittsburgh would settle for playing something resembling ``Steeler football.''

``I think everybody should have a resolve about themselves to play better and to get better at their craft,'' tight end Heath Miller said. ``I think sometimes it's harder to do when you win a few games; you play well, it's easy to overlook some things. I don't see how we can overlook what we need to do to get better at this point.''

The defense included, even if it did everything it could to keep the Steelers in it. Cleveland's two touchdown drives totaled just 41 yards in length thanks to turnovers that gave the Browns excellent field position.

Pittsburgh sacked Brandon Weeden four times, returned an interception for a score and held Cleveland to just 238 yards.

Still, it wasn't enough to prevent the Steelers from enduring their first two-game losing streak in three years.

``We have to make plays,'' nose tackle Casey Hampton said. ``You can sit here and say `We turned the ball over this many times,' but we get opportunities to get turnovers we have to do that too and give our team the short field sometimes. You can't put it all on one side of the ball. It's everybody. Everybody could have done a little bit more to win.''

NOTES: The Steelers activated rookie LG David DeCastro from the injured reserve/return list. DeCastro, the team's first-round pick in the draft, hasn't played since injuring his right knee in a preseason win over Buffalo in August ... The team placed RT Marcus Gilbert on injured reserve. Gilbert missed the last six games with ligament damage in his right ankle ... The Steelers also released WR David Gilreath and promoted OL John Malecki to the active roster.

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

---

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

Quick Links

What to eat at the 2018 MLB All-Star FanFest

What to eat at the 2018 MLB All-Star FanFest

Before we begin, let's make one thing clear: if you're going to the MLB All-Star Game FanFest to eat, you're already doing something wrong.

There isn't really any good food there, but there are some interesting options. You can, of course, get a bunch of fried food and traditional ballpark fare. But you also have some more intriguing options, if you're feeling adventurous.

You could get what one concession stand claims to be an "Old City Style Philly Cheese Steak," some jerk chicken, various subs or even sushi, among other things.

But you're in D.C. for the day, and you only want to spend $40 on lunch for you and your date so you can still go out for what's sure to be an overpriced dinner.

The safest bet is to go to the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog stand and grab a pair of hot dogs for $7 each. There's a reason Joey Chestnut can eat 74 of these babies in 10 minutes. Having only spent $14 on your main course, you've still got money left over for drinks and a desert.

If you're over 21, there's a whole corner of the convention hall set up with a selection of adult beverages ranging between $6 and $7. If you're not, there's some fresh-squeezed lemonade at a nearby stand for only $5 — unless you want a large, that's $8.

Whatever you choose, it's time to head to the Dippin' Dots stand for dessert. They don't call it the ice cream of the future for nothing. This $6, five-ounce cup of ice cream pellets (it's better than it sounds) will soak up the rest of your lunch budget.

Riskier (and also more expensive) options include a $12 jerk, pineapple or curry chicken bowl or a variety of rice bowls from Hanaro Sushi for $15 apiece. Either of these choices will likely eliminate dessert from your meal, but who really wants dessert with lunch anyway?

When all is said and done, you're probably not getting a gourmet meal out of this experience, but you can at least enjoy a not-bad meal while you explore some of the interesting things about baseball.

Quick Links

2018 MLB All-Star Game: How to watch, starting lineups, full rosters

2018 MLB All-Star Game: How to watch, starting lineups, full rosters

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game is finally here.

The Midsummer Classic returns to the nation's capital today for the first time in almost 50 years. This is also the first time the Washington Nationals have hosted the All-Star Game, and the first time in over 30 years that the Nationals franchise has hosted it when they were the Montreal Expos. 

After Bryce Harper stole the show on Monday night with a thrilling victory in the Home Run Derby, it's time for Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle and the rest of the N.L. roster to join Harper as they take on the best players from the American League.

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game gets going at 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday night and is broadcast on FOX.

Here's what to know about the 2018 MLB All-Star weekend.  

2018 MLB All-Star Game How to Watch 

Where: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. 
When: 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 17th
TV channel: FOX
Live Stream: FOXsports.com
Announcers: Joe Buck (PbP), John Smoltz (Analyst), Ken Rosenthal (Reporter), Tom Verducci (Reporter)

2018 National League All-Star Roster

STARTING LINEUP
1. Javier Baez, 2B (Cubs)
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B (Rockies)
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH (Diamondbacks)
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B (Braves)
5. Matt Kemp, LF (Dodgers)
6. Bryce Harper, CF (Nationals)
7. Nick Markakis, RF (Braves)
8. Brandon Crawford, SS (Giants)
9. Wilson Contreras, C (Cubs)
SP: Max Scherzer (Nationals)

RESERVES:
Yadier Molina, C (Cardinals); J.T. Realmuto, C (Marlins); Joey Votto, 1B (Reds); Jesus Aguilar, 1B (Brewers); Ozzie Albies, 2B (Braves); Scooter Gennett, 2B (Reds); Eugenio Suarez, 3B (Reds); Trevor Story, SS (Rockies), Charlie Blackmon, OF (Rockies), Lorenzo Cain, OF (Brewers); Christian Yelich, OF (Brewers)

STARTING PITCHERS:
Patrick Corbin, LH (Diamondbacks); Jacob deGrom, RH (Mets); Mike Foltynewicz, RH (Braves); Zack Greinke, RH (Diamondbacks); Aaron Nola, RH (Phillies); Ross Stripling, RH (Dodgers)

RELIEF PITCHERS:
Josh Hader, LH (Brewers); Brad Hand, LH (Padres); Kenley Jansen, RH (Dodgers); Jeremy Jeffress, RH (Brewers); Felipe Vazquez, LH (Pirates) 

INJURED/INACTIVE PLAYERS:
LH Sean Doolittle, LH (Nationals), Jon Lester, LH (Cubs); RH Miles Mikolas, RH Cardinals (inactive); Buster Posey, C (Giants)

2018 American League All-Star Roster

STARTING LINEUP
1. Mookie Betts, RF (Red Sox)
2. Jose Altuve, 2B (Astros)
3. Mike Trout, CF (Angels)
4. J.D. Martinez, DH (Red Sox)
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B (Indians)
6. Aaron Judge, LF (Yankees)
7. Manny Machado, SS (Orioles)
9. Salvador Perez, C (Royals)
SP: Chris Sale (Red Sox)

RESERVES:
Yan Gomes, C (Indians); Mitch Moreland, 1B (Red Sox); Jed Lowrie, 2B (Athletics); Alex Bregman, 3B (Astros), Francisco Lindor, SS (Indians); Jean Segura, SS (Mariners), Michael Brantley, OF (Indians); Shin-Soo Choo, OF (Rangers); Mitch Haniger, OF (Mariners); George Springer, OF (Astros); Nelson Cruz, OF (Mariners)

STARTING PITCHERS:
Trevor Bauer, RH (Indians);  Jose Berrios, RH (Twins); Gerrit Cole, RH (Astros); J.A. Happ, LH (Blue Jays); Charlie Morton, RH (Astros); Luis Severino, RH (Yankees); Blake Snell, LH (Rays)

RELIEF PITCHERS:
Edwin Diaz, RH (Mariners); Joe Jimenez, RH (Tigers); Craig Kimbrel, RH (Red Sox); Blake Treinen, RH (Athletics)

INJURED/INACTIVE PLAYERS:
Aroldis Chapman, LH (Yankees); Corey Kluber, RH (Indians); Wilson Ramos, C (Rays), Gleyber Torres, 2B (Yankees), Justin Verlander, RH (Astros)

All-Star Game History

— 89th annual MLB All-Star Game
— Series tied 43-43-2
— Last A.L. win: 2017 (2-1)
— Last N.L. win: 2012 (8-0)
— Longest ASG: 15 innings (1979 and 2008)
— First MVP: Maury Wills, SS Dodgers (1962)
— Most Recent MVP: Robinson Cano, 2B Mariners (2017)
— Most MVP awards by team: Orioles (6)

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: