Nationals

NFL Playoffs Capsule-Texans at Patriots

NFL Playoffs Capsule-Texans at Patriots

HOUSTON (13-4) At NEW ENGLAND (12-4)

Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Patriots by 9 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Houston 10-7; New England 9-7

SERIES RECORD - Patriots lead 3-1

AP PRO32 RANKING - Texans No. 8; Patriots No. 2

LAST MEETING - Patriots beat Texans 42-14, Dec. 10, 2012

LAST WEEK - Texans beat Bengals 19-13; Patriots had bye.

TEXANS OFFENSE - OVERALL (7), RUSH (8), PASS (11)

TEXANS DEFENSE - OVERALL (7), RUSH (7), PASS (16)

PATRIOTS OFFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (7), PASS (4)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE - OVERALL (25), RUSH (9), PASS (29)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Teams meet for first time in playoffs after four regular-season games since Texans entered NFL in 2002. ... Patriots are AFC East champs and earned No. 2 seed by beating Miami 28-0 in regular-season finale after AFC South champion Texans lost to Indianapolis 28-16, dropping Houston to No. 3 seed and costing it a bye. ...Texans and Patriots allowed same number of points, 20.7 per game. Patriots led NFL in scoring with 34.8 average, Texans eighth with 26. ... Houston is in playoffs second straight season after missing them in first nine. ... Texans lost three of last four regular-season games, starting against Patriots when Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes. They barely edged Bengals despite an advantage of 420 to 198 yards and a time of possession of 38:49 compared to 21:11. ... Texans RB Arian Foster's 425 yards are most in first three playoff games by any player in NFL history. His 140 yards in wild-card win over Cincinnati made him only player with at least 100 yards rushing in each of first three playoff games. ... QB Matt Schaub threw for more than 4,000 yards for third time in four seasons. In last five games, starting with loss to New England, he's thrown one touchdown pass and four interceptions. ... Schaub completed 350 passes, Foster ran 351 times. ... WR Andre Johnson led AFC with 1,598 yards receiving on 112 catches, had eight receptions for 95 yards against Patriots. He made four for 62 against Bengals. ... Backup TE Garrett Graham, sidelined in first game against Patriots, should play after making three catches, two for first downs, against Cincinnati. LB Brooks Reed and RT Derek Newton also should play after missing earlier meeting. Both played in wild-card game. ... DE J.J. Watt led NFL with club-record 20 1-2 sacks and is only player with at least 15 sacks and 15 passes defensed in same season. ... Brady needs one win to break tie with Joe Montana for most victories in postseason by a quarterback. It would be Brady's 17th. ... Brady is 6-6 in last 12 playoff games after starting 10-0. ... Coach Bill Belichick's next postseason win also would be his 17th, moving him into third place ahead of Joe Gibbs. Tom Landry has 20 and Don Shula 19. ... Patriots' four losses were by total margin of 11 points. ... TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, both sidelined for extended stretches, expected to play together for just sixth time this season. Gronkowski has 55 catches in 11 games, Hernandez 51 in 10 with two touchdown catches in win over Texans. ... WR Wes Welker tied for second in NFL with 118 catches, leads league over past six seasons with 672. ... RB Stevan Ridley had career-high 1,263 yards rushing in second season, seventh in league and one spot behind Foster's 1,424. Ridley's 84 first downs second to Foster's 88 in AFC. ... Patriots led NFL with plus-25 turnover differential, Texans seventh in NFL and second in AFC with plus-12. ... DT Vince Wilfork and DE Rob Ninkovich tied for second in NFL with four fumble recoveries. ... DB Devin McCourty tied for seventh in league with five interceptions, including one against Texans in end zone. ... Patriots DE Chandler Jones tied with Texans LB Whitney Mercilus for first among AFC rookies with six sacks.

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

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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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