Nationals

Oklahoma State defeats TCU 63-45

Oklahoma State defeats TCU 63-45

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Marcus Smart and Markel Brown each scored 14 points, and Le'Bryan Nash added 13 as Oklahoma State defeated TCU 63-45 Wednesday night.

Philip Jurick grabbed 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-1 Big 12), which owned a 40-17 rebounding edge. Nash, Brown and Kamari Murphy each had six rebounds. Brown also had five assists.

TCU's Garlon Green led all scorers with 20 points. Kyan Anderson finished with 10.

Oklahoma State led 36-22 at halftime and back-to-back field goals by Brown pushed the lead to 50-30 with 12:14 remaining. TCU (9-6, 0-2) got no closer than 14 the rest of the way.

The teams combined for 45 turnovers, 24 by the Cowboys, who broke a two-game losing streak.

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Max Scherzer primed and ready for season to begin

Max Scherzer primed and ready for season to begin

JUPITER, Fla. -- So much of Max Scherzer’s night proceeded in regular fashion Friday. He ran across the warning track, did side bends then flapped his arms for an initial body heating. Scherzer walked onto the bullpen mound up the first base line, threw off-speed pitches, used a moderate curse when displeased with the action. Normal.

He waded through dugout high-fives a couple hours later after seven innings, 10 hits, 12 strikeouts and 97 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. Scherzer peaked when throwing a 94 mph fastball late in his final spring training appearance.

“[Friday] was good, especially there in the seventh,” Scherzer said. “Wanted to get to 100 pitches that was the goal [Friday]. There in the sixth, it was a long inning, kind of had to go back out there, re-warmup, and finish the seventh. That’s kind of what I was measuring this outing on: how did I pitch in the sixth and seventh inning and how I was executing pitches.”

He wasn’t concerned about the hit total or amped about strikeout pile. A few small reminders -- most notably his changeup to left-handed hitters -- hinted further sharpening could be done. But, six days before Opening Day, Scherzer is primed as expected.

Scherzer is entering his age-34 season, his fifth year in Washington and showing no signs of regression. If Friday was his last day on a mound, he would have a shot to enter the Hall of Fame anyway. Here’s where he stands among multiple standards from Baseball Reference:

Black Ink
The essential point is to measure how often a player led the league in a variety of "important" stats.
Scherzer 51, Average HOFer around 50

Gray Ink
Essentially the same as the Black Ink above, but it counts appearances in the top 10 of the league.
Scherzer 158, average HOFer around 185

Hall of Fame monitor
It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame.
Scherzer 138, likely HOFer around 100

Hall of Fame standards
It is used to measure the overall quality of a player's career as opposed to singular brilliance (peak value).
Scherzer 44, average HOFer around 50

Scherzer’s journey through 2019 will lead him to larger statistical piles and more narrow company. He’s already one of three pitchers all-time to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues and have a 300-strikeout season.

He’s sixth in active WAR among pitchers, trailing former teammate Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. He should leap Hamels this season. He’s 89th all-time in WAR among pitchers. Another 10-WAR season would vault him to 47th. Scherzer is 41st in career strikeouts. Another 282 this season -- his average since arriving in Washington -- would push him to 23rd. Suddenly, his Hall of Fame entrance becomes inevitable with those markers behind him.

He would still have two more years under contract to supplement his totals.

Scherzer is more worried about the Mets than milestones. Everything he did since arriving at spring training Jan. 1 geared him toward March 28 at 1:05 p.m. inside Nationals Park, when New York comes to the District and reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom opposes him.

“Everything looks good,” Scherzer said. “Ready for the season.”

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An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

WASHINGTON – The Capitals were not quite ready to play on Friday against the Minnesota Wild and maybe you can’t blame them. 

Coming off one of the season’s most intense games, a wild 5-4 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, one of three games this month against the Presidents’ Trophy winners, Washington didn’t have it for a Wild team it had beaten eight times in a row. That 2-1 defeat offered a lesson they need to carry forward for the final two games of this homestand at Capital One Arena. 

The Capitals (43-24-8, 94 points) couldn’t match the desperation of a Minnesota team that entered the day one point out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Wild had to win. Washington would have liked a win. The difference showed on the ice.

“It was obviously a different game that way. I think you could tell they got more desperate as the game went on,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “They don't give up much, they're pretty stingy defensively. After coming off some emotional games lately I think we didn't ramp it up enough for this one, for their situation, how they were playing. It was a close game. It was one that we'd like to play a bit better, but we still did a lot of good things."

They just didn’t do enough of them consistently. The Philadelphia Flyers (80 points) are on the fringe of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and down to their final gasps of breath. Expect a similar effort from them on Sunday afternoon when they visit Capital One Arena. For the Capitals, who lead the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders by three points (93), they need a win on this four-game homestand.

Another loss will suddenly put the Metropolitan Division back in play for multiple teams. The Islanders also have an extra game remaining and know they play in Washington on the final day of the regular season April 6. 

“We can use this and learn from it,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “These teams are desperate for points and we still need to be, too.”

The Capitals weren’t bad; they just didn’t match Minnesota’s level. They were 0-for-3 on the power play, and on two of those attempts, didn’t generate any shots on goal. A couple of mistakes – a Brooks Orpik misplay late in the first period and a Matt Niskanen turnover in the neutral zone – led directly to goals by Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. Holtby stopped 25 of 27 shots.

But it never felt like enough. Brett Connolly tipped home a shot from Jensen in the second period. But there weren’t enough puck battles won, there weren’t enough pucks sent behind the Minnesota defensemen. It was an average game and that was never going to be enough tonight. The Wild moved into sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Capitals stayed where they were in the standings.  

“That was a very intense game [against Tampa Bay], three games in four days for us, but that's a game that they deserved to win more than us,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “Our execution level and desperation wasn't as high as theirs was and they were able to convert on a couple more of their chances than we did.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Everybody needs points right now, and it doesn't matter who you play against, it's not going to be an easy one, especially a team who fights for a playoff spot. It's playoff hockey. I don't think we were ready tonight, and the blame's on us."

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