Capitals

This pitcher got win 100 on Tuesday night

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This pitcher got win 100 on Tuesday night

From Comcast SportsNetANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver spent a long stretch of his 100th career victory in the batting cage and the tunnel below Angel Stadium, playing catch to keep his arm warm while the Los Angeles Angels batted around in an eight-run fourth inning.Weaver didn't lose his rhythm, and the Angels kept flowing toward a playoff berth.Weaver pitched seven innings of six-hit ball in his 18th win of the season, Chris Iannetta had a two-run single and scored on a wild pitch during that crazy rally, and the Angels moved up in the AL postseason race with an 11-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.Weaver (18-4) gave up third-inning homers to Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler, but got a huge cushion from his teammates to ease into a tie with Tampa Bay's David Price for the AL lead in wins. The ace right-hander, who has spent his entire career in Anaheim, matched his single-season high for victories and became just the sixth pitcher to win 100 games with the club."It's an honor to do it all in an Angels uniform," said Weaver, a Los Angeles-area native. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Hopefully these fans see 200 more, but I don't know. We'll see what happens."What's happening on the scoreboards is more interesting to Weaver and his teammates at the moment.Erick Aybar had three hits and scored two runs for the Angels (81-67), who moved within 3 games of wild card-leading Oakland with their 15th win in 20 games after the Athletics (84-63) lost at Detroit. Los Angeles also kept pressure on Baltimore, which sits in second place in the AL wild-card standings."We're at the point in the year when we just have to win," Iannetta said. "We need to find a way. Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, they're all in the drivers' seat, but we've been on a real good three-week stretch. We just have to keep working."Los Angeles trimmed its deficit behind the AL West-leading Rangers (87-60) to 6 games, but the Angels are much more focused on making a late wild-card push -- and with a few more innings like the fourth, they might have an outside shot.Los Angeles sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth while carving up three Texas pitchers, including starter Ryan Dempster, during its biggest rally in nearly two months."It felt like a rain delay out there," Weaver said. "But when runs are coming across the board, you can't complain too much."With eight Angels scoring a run, they had no trouble producing offense in the absence of Albert Pujols, who missed the game to be with his wife and their newborn daughter. The Angels expect Pujols to be back in the lineup Wednesday.Dempster (6-2) was charged with five runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings, ending his five-start winning streak with his second rough outing against the Angels. The veteran has yielded 13 earned runs to Los Angeles and just 15 to the rest of the AL during his nine starts for Texas."It got out of control," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't get any outs. Dempster struggled from the beginning. It was a fight the whole time, and in that fourth inning, they just took the game away from us."All-Star Josh Hamilton left in the fourth with sinus trouble that affected the slugger's vision, Washington said. Napoli had two hits in another big game against his former teammates, but Weaver and two relievers largely shut down the majors' most potent offense.Kinsler ended an 0-for-11 skid with just his second homer in 17 games, but the Angels got rolling in the fourth. After Vernon Wells and Alberto Callaspo reached, Iannetta cracked a one-out single off the bottom of the right-field wall before Mike Trout walked to chase Dempster.Tanner Scheppers then threw two pitches: He hit Aybar with the first to load the bases, and put the second into the backstop for a wild pitch. Iannetta made contact with Scheppers' leg on his slide, leaving Scheppers on the ground in agony while Napoli's throw hit home plate umpire Jim Wolf, allowing Trout to score on a throwing error.Scheppers left with a bruised right knee, but the Angels didn't let up against Mark Lowe.Aybar scored on Kendrys Morales' single, a tapper that traveled about 15 feet up the third-base line. Wells and Callaspo then drove in runs before Mark Trumbo made his second out of the inning."It was strange and bizarre," Michael Young said. "There were definitely strange things that happened that inning, but the bottom line was that they had some good at-bats and found a way to score. It doesn't matter how it happened. They scored eight."NOTES:Hamilton was replaced by Leonys Martin on defense in the bottom of the fourth. The major league leader with 42 homers walked and grounded out in his two at-bats. ... Weaver has never lost a decision to Texas at Angel Stadium, going 9-0. ... RHP Wilmer Font made his major league debut for Texas in the sixth, pitching a scoreless inning.

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Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

The top line for the Capitals on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks is Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but the starting lineup is Ovechkin, Backstrom and Devante Smith-Pelly. Why the change?

It all has to do with the last time the Caps visited Chicago nearly a year ago.

On Feb. 17, 2018, Washington went into the United Center and were obliterated by the Blackhawks 7-1. But that wasn’t the ugliest thing to happen that night.

While sitting in the penalty box, Devante Smith-Pelly faced racial taunts from some Chicago fans who began chanting “basketball, basketball” at him.

In the wake of the incident, Smith-Pelly handled himself about as gracefully as one could. So, in the team’s return to Chicago Sunday, head coach Todd Reirden felt he should be on the ice for the national anthem.

According to Pierre McGuire during the game broadcast, the idea came from Oshie himself, who advocated that Smith-Pelly start in his place.

The starters traditionally stand on the ice for the anthem while the rest of the players stand at the bench.

Smith-Pelly has remained active against racism in the sport. He and teammate John Carlson invited a youth hockey team whose lone African-American player had faced racial taunts during a game to the Caps’ game on Monday.

Sunday’s move by Reirden is a classy tribute to Smith-Pelly who handled an ugly situation about as well as one could. 

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

Apparently Wizards owner Ted Leonsis could have been even more clear when he delivered the edict last week that his team will "never, ever tank."

Despite publicly stating the Wizards would not go through a rebuild, the trade rumors surrounding All-Star guard Bradley Beal have persisted. Bleacher Report created some buzz on Saturday with an extensive look at Beal's trade value and there will likely be many more stories written in the next several weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7.

What Leonsis said, however, should change how any rumors are viewed. He expressed firmly what team officials have been indicating for weeks, that if they are active at the trade deadline, it won't be with deals involving their main guys.

That means Beal is highly unlikely to be dealt. Otto Porter Jr. can be considered similarly and John Wall should go without saying given his current injury status and hefty trade kicker.

All of that doesn't mean the Wizards won't get calls. There are reasons why people are connecting the dots on Beal and Porter. The Wizards have underperformed this season and they are good, veteran players. That is generally the most basic formula for trade speculation.

Leonsis, though, made it clear that he doesn't want to go through a rebuild anytime soon and trading Beal would signify a reset. If the Wizards want to make the playoffs this season, as Leonsis said, they have a much better shot with Beal in the mix than without him.

So, for the Wizards to trade Beal, that would require a serious change of face and in a short period of time. Or, it would require someone in the organization with a differing opinion to overrule the owner. Neither scenario sounds realistic.

If the goal is to build on what they have rather than tear it down and start over, you could argue they would be crazy to trade Beal. He is 25, an All-Star who is still improving and he's under contract two more years. The roughly $56 million he's owed through 2020-21 is a relative bargain in this era of supermax contracts.

The Wizards can't 100 percent rule out a trade of any player, of course. No front office really can, with rare exceptions like MVPs or all-time greats in their prime. Generally, everyone has a price.

Nothing can be taken as a guarantee in these situations. But Leonsis' comments have made it about as clear as possible that Beal isn't going anywhere. Just keep that in mind when the rumors inevitably crop up in the next few weeks.

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