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Orioles blow two leads, lose 14-9 to Athletics

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Orioles blow two leads, lose 14-9 to Athletics

In a season of unexpected positives, the Orioles wasted two comebacks on Friday night.Zach Britton gave up five runs in the first two innings, and after the Orioles managed a 6-5 lead in the fifth, the Athletics scored three in the sixth to lead by two. After a three-run eighth, the normally reliable Jim Johnson came in and allowed four runs.Johnsons rare sloppiness sent the Orioles to a 14-9 loss before 29,278 at Oriole Park.Coming into the ninth, the Orioles were 41-0 when leading after eight innings, and Johnson had converted 30 of 32 save opportunities.In the ninth, Johnson (1-1) retired the first batter and then allowed six straight Oakland hitters to reach. The 9-8 lead was gone, and so was Johnson. Chris Carter and Brandon Inge singled, and Derek Norris singled to score pinch-runner Eric Sogard to tie the game at 9. Brandon Moss walked, and Jemile Weeks singled to score the go-ahead run. Coco Crisp singled to scored two runs, and Oakland led 12-9.Seth Smith singled against Luis Ayala for two more runs. He had five RBIs.Jerry Blevins (4-0), who worked the ninth was the winner. He allowed two hits and struck out two. Nick Markakis flied to right, and Josh Reddick crashed against the right field scoreboard to make the game-ending catch and crumpled to the ground to end the four-hour game.Reddick was attended to by the Oakland training staff and left on a golf cart.The Athletics (54-45) scored four runs off Britton in the first inning. Reddicks triple drove in one, a wild pitch by Britton scored another and Carters two-run home run, his seventh made it 4-0.Brandon Hicks led off the second with his second home run of the season to make it 5-0.Chris Davis 17th home run, his second in two days, gave the Orioles their first run in the bottom of the second.J.J. Hardys RBI double in third off Jarrod Parker cut Oaklands lead to 5-2.Hardys single in the fifth cut the Orioles deficit to two runs, and with two outs, Adam Jones drove a ball into the left field stands for a three-run home runs, his 24th. That gave the Orioles (52-48) a 6-5 lead.They couldnt hold it.In the top of the sixth, Britton got the first two outs and then walked Hicks. Manager Buck Showalter called on Miguel Socolovich, who was recalled earlier in the day. He walked Weeks and Crisp, and then after Smith was down 0-2, Smith worked the count to 3-2, then doubled to center to score three runs.The Orioles threatened in the seventh when they loaded the bases with two outs when Grant Balfour issued three walks. Sean Doolittle struck out Wilson Betemit to end the inning.In the eighth, Mark Reynolds walked to lead off against Doolittle. With two outs, Markakis singled and Ryan Cook replaced Sean Doolittle. Hardy singled for his third RBI to make it 8-7 and Jim Thome singled to score Markakis to tie the score at 8. Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases.Davis lined a single to left to score Hardy. Thome foolishly tried to score from second, but was thrown out easily, and the Orioles led 9-8.
NOTES:-The Orioles struck out 13 times. Theyve fanned 46 times in their four home games this week.-Jake Arrieta got the loss in the first game of a doubleheader for Norfolk against Lehigh Valley. Arrieta pitched 5 13 innings, allowing three runs and six earned runs.-Tommy Hunter (4-5, 5.57) faces Bartolo Colon (6-8, 3.97) on Saturday night.

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Wizards GM reset: Blazers' Neil Olshey, Warriors exec potential targets?

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Wizards GM reset: Blazers' Neil Olshey, Warriors exec potential targets?

The Washington Wizards remain without a President of Basketball Operations since firing Ernie Grunfeld April 2. While several candidates met with owner Ted Leonsis, including Denver’s Tim Connelly, the pursuit continues though largely in silence.

The vibe coming out of the organization is that of patience even with the fan base growing restless as the June 20 NBA Draft looms and prospect workouts starting a week or so out.

There have been no reports of candidate interviews since Washington met over the weekend with Connelly. Speculation and logic have the Wizards considering candidates beyond the previously reported group already brought in for interviews.

We can connect some dots and land on one executive whose team is still in the playoffs: Golden State assistant general manager Larry Harris.

As for the rumor mill, one name stands out: Neil Olshey.

Numerous sources told NBC Sports Washington of the Wizards’ interest in Blazers President of Basketball Operations, the architect behind the Portland squad that reached the 2019 Western Conference Finals.

Before we explain both scenarios, one more thought on Connelly specifically the pursuit and big swing.

While Connelly wasn’t the first candidate meeting, it’s clear the Wizards waited for him. The 54-win Nuggets were eliminated from the second round of the playoffs May 12. Connelly flew to Washington for a meeting with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis five days later.

The Baltimore native sincerely weighed a contract offer from the Wizards before choosing to remain in Denver, sources told NBC Sports Washington.

The Wizards previously interviewed former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver and Wizards interim front office leader Tommy Sheppard.

While all three are considered credible candidates, none is an active GM or team president. None represents a big swing, the kind Leonsis hinted he would pursue in his first comments after dismissing Grunfeld.

“One thing I will say: I think this is the best job in sports,” Leonsis said. “I don’t think we’re going to have any issues in attracting really, really great people.”

Olshey, 54, began running Portland’s front office in June of 2012. Over the next 12 months, he drafted guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and hired head coach Terry Stotts. The quartet created the culture that fueled the current streak of six consecutive playoff appearances.

The 53-win Blazers advanced to the franchise’s first WCF appearance since 2000 before losing the series to Golden State 4-0.

It's uncertain the level of pursuit for Olshey from Washington, but the Wizards could face another uphill climb trying to lure the proven executive considering the similar contractual and team success to Connelly's situation. 

The general interest in Olshey began several weeks back, but the Wizards had yet to ask the Blazers for permission to interview Olshey as of Wednesday according to a source. Portland's season ended Monday with the Game 4 loss to Golden State. 

Olshey agreed to an extension in 2017 that carries his contract through the 2020-21 season. Sources believe he is open to considering other options including Washington after seven years with the Blazers.

Reporting from Portland has the franchise likely to be sold following the 2018 passing of team owner Paul Allen. 

Lillard received All-NBA honors Thursday and with it a supermax extension for four-years, $191 million dollars. If offered and signed, the contract would put constraints on Portland's salary cap structure.

As for Harris, the former Bucks GM joined the Warriors in 2008 as an assistant coach before eventually moving into the front office. He was named assistant GM in 2016.

ESPN reported Harris interviewed for the Pelicans opening in April before the NBA Playoffs began.

Note the familiar names. Gersson Rosas, who subsequently became the Timberwolves President, also interviewed with the Wizards.

The connection with the Wizards and Pelicans is Mike Forde, an outside consultant who helped both teams during their respective searches.

It’s no leap imagining Forde pushing the Wizards to meet with an executive who just spent the past five years in the NBA Finals (The Bucks never finished above .500 in five seasons with Harris, however). Waiting could mean until after Game 4 of the NBA Finals (June 7). Going the full seven games means June 16.

Another front office headliner still in the postseason is Toronto’s Masai Ujiri. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. Expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement, according to a source.

For now, Sheppard runs the show. He led the Wizards’ contingent at last week’s NBA Combine in Chicago. As for Ferry or Weaver, as of Wednesday it was considered unlikely either heard from Washington since the organization ramped up the pursuit of Connelly or learned of the Denver executive's decision, according to sources familiar with the situation.

 For now, all anyone on the outside can do is wait patiently just like the organization and see which name bubbles up next.

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.

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