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Orioles begin four games in Cleveland tonight

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Orioles begin four games in Cleveland tonight

After losing three of four to the Cleveland Indians in Baltimore, the Orioles are in Cleveland to play four with the Tribe, beginning tonight.Its a rare wraparound series that concludes on Monday.Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 2.59) pitches against Derek Lowe (8-7, 4.43) on Friday night. On Saturday, Chris Tillman (1-1, 1.00) and Zach McAllister (4-1, 3.17) are scheduled. Sundays pitchers are Zach Britton (0-0, 9.00) and Josh Tomlin (5-6, 5.51). Mondays probables are Tommy Hunter (4-4, 5.71) and Justin Masterson (6-8, 4.29).The three night games begin at 7:05 p.m. Sundays game starts at 3:05 p.m.The four Indians pitchers started in Baltimore three weekends ago. The Orioles starters were Wei-Yin Chen, Jake Arrieta, Dana Eveland and Brian Matusz. Chen started on Thursday in Minnesota, and the other three are now at Norfolk. Hunter pitched in relief in one of the games, but was immediately sent down to Norfolk

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Morrissey to have hearing for body slamming Oshie, here’s why a suspension is likely

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USA Today

Morrissey to have hearing for body slamming Oshie, here’s why a suspension is likely

In what was an injury-filled day for the Capitals, the exclamation point of the night on Wednesday was a vicious body slam by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey to T.J. Oshie.

Late in the game, Oshie skated to the corner of the offensive zone after the puck while locked in a physical battle with Morrissey. Morrissey checked Oshie into the boards, then, as he was falling back, Morrissey slammed Oshie down to the ice. Oshie appeared dazed after the play and now Morrissey may have to answer for the play.

The Department of Player Safety announced Thursday that Morrissey will have a hearing for what it calls interference/unsportsmanlike conduct on Oshie. A date and time for the hearing have not yet been determined.

Chances are, Morrissey is not going to walk away from that hearing unscathed.

The DPS already set precedent for a similar hit earlier in the season when Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson slammed Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson to the ice. Matheson was suspended two games for the play.

Matheson’s suspension was a matter of some debate within the hockey community. Some say Matheson was only finishing his check and the play looked worse than it was because Pettersson is only 176 pounds, nearly 20 pounds lighter than Matheson. Morrissey will not be able to make that argument considering both he and Oshie are listed at 195 pounds by their respective teams.

Also working against Morrissey is the fact that he is a repeat offender after he was suspended in the 2018 playoffs for a cross-check to Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal.

With no practice on Thursday, it is unclear if Oshie has suffered any injury from the play, something else the DPS takes into consideration when determining suspensions. Considering his concussion history, however, seeing him slammed to the ice in the manner he was on Wednesday was a troubling sight.

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Why the 20-game marker of the season counts for these Wizards

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USA Today Sports

Why the 20-game marker of the season counts for these Wizards

The Washington Wizards improved to 5-9 with Wednesday’s 119-95 enjoyable destruction of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their three-game winning streak pushed the Wizards within 1 ½ games of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Nobody should burn much energy on the postseason chase in mid-November. However, history suggests trouble brewing if they don’t crack the top-8 this season by Nov. 26.

The date doesn’t actually matter. It’s about where it falls on Washington’s schedule. There is no true line of demarcation to indicate when those analyzing a team’s season can forgo with the “it’s still early” caveat.

Many suggest 20 regular season games eclipse small sample size talk. The Wizards hosts reigning NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden and the Houston Rockets on that post-Thanksgiving evening.

When it comes to projecting which teams will make the playoffs, that 20-game marker proves quite accurate. That is why the Wizards need to continue surging.

Each season 16-playoff spots are available, split evenly between the Eastern and Western Conference. The league-wide schedule doesn’t work out cleanly where all NBA teams reach 20 games at the exact same time so we’ll use the Wizards’ as the pivot point.

Over the last five seasons, teams that occupied a playoff berth at the point where the Wizards played their 20th game held on to one of those 16 annual slots 83.7 percent of the time.

2017-18

East -- At the point Washington played 20 games, 7 of 8 teams seated in a playoff berth held on over the course of 82 games. The Pistons fell from second to the lottery while the Heat moved from 9th place into the elite eight. (Wizards start 7th at 11-9, finish 8th at 43-39)

West – 7 of 8. Nuggets fall; Thunder rise.

2016-17

East -- 5 of 8. Hornets, Knicks, Pistons; Pacers, Hawks, Wizards. (Wizards start 12th at 7-13, finish 4th at 49-33)

West – 8 for 8


2015-16

East -- 7 of 8. Bulls; Pistons. (Wizards start 11th at 9-11, finish 10th at 41-41)

West -- 7 of 8. Jazz; Blazers

2014-15

East -- 7 of 8. Magic; Celtics. (Wizards start T-2 at 14-6, finish 5th at 46-36)

West -- 7 of 8; Suns; Pelicans

2013-14

East -- 6 of 8. Pistons, Celtics; Raptors, Nets. (Wizards start 7th at 9-11, finish 5th at 44-38)

West -- 6 of 8. Nuggets, Suns; Warriors, Grizzlies.

Within each situation, explanations exist. The 2015-16 Bulls began the season with core players available, but their top-4 scorers including Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose missed a combined 50 games. Most of those absences came after the 20-game mark.

The 2017-18 Thunder needed an extra beat to find a rhythm with newly added All-Star Paul George. From an 8-20 start, they finished fourth in the Western Conference.

These 5-9 Wizards have their own tale. Eight of their opening 12 games were on the road. Washington lost six of eight. It also began the season without starting center Dwight Howard for the first seven games and opened 1-6.

“I think it’s different for team to team,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said of how and when to assess teams early in seasons. “I think for [the Wizards], they’ve played a brutal schedule and then when you have a guy (Howard) who is going to be a big part of your team but is injured and couldn’t practice, it’s going to be longer even though they have a core group that has played together. …No matter what, schedule and health are a big part of it.”

Those aren’t the only factors, of course. Sometimes teams start as they finish. The Wizards going from 3-9 to 49 wins is often mentioned as the potential for this season, which began 2-9. Few note the 2015-16 campaign, the final one before head coach Scott Brooks’ arrival. That Washington team, loaded with upcoming free agents just like the current squad, essentially remained outside the playoff picture throughout.

Will these Wizards follow one of those paths or forge another? We’ll find out over the months ahead. Of course, just making the playoffs was never the goal for a team that reached the postseason in four of the previous five seasons. That’s according to Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.

“Well, we want to make the playoffs. We want 50 wins and I’d like to set a bar that says if we can’t get by the first round and the second round then we didn’t meet our goals,” Leonsis said in September.

For the franchise’s first 50-win since the 1978-79 season, the Wizards need a 45-23 record over the final 68 games. That 66.2 winning percentage required would have placed Washington third in the Eastern or Western Conference last season.

To advance to the conference finals, the Wizards likely need homecourt advantage in at least the first round. History suggests there isn’t much change among the top-4 seeds either. Eighty percent (40 of 50) of the top-4 seeds at the point when the Wizards have played 20 regular season games maintain that status.

2017

East -- 3 of 4; 76ers 5th to 3rd

West -- 3 of 4; Thunder T-9th to 4th

2016

East -- 3 of 4 (Wizards 12th to 4th)

West – 4 of 4

2015

East -- 3 of 4; Hawks rose from 8th to 4th, but their 58.5 winning percentage remained the same

West -- 3 of 4; Clippers 5th to 4th

2014

East -- 3 of 4; Bulls 5th to 3rd

West -- 3 of 4; Clippers 5th to 3rd

2013

East -- 2 of 4; Raptors 9th to 3rd, Bulls 8th to 4th

West -- 3 of 4; Clippers 5th to 3rd

If this three-game winning streak shows what is possible, the Wizards could reach the top-8 by the 20-game mark, though the schedule difficulty increases beyond Friday’s home meeting with Brooklyn. They don’t need to fix all their ills over the next week either.

“They say it’s a marathon, and it is,” Brooks said after the Wizards fell to 1-6 on Oct. 30 following a loss in Memphis.

Brooks’ point was and is fair, but off-kilter starts can doom even Olympic runners over long distances. At some point along the journey, the pace must increase and assessments over what’s transpired kick in.