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QBs to split more snaps for No. 15 Stanford

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QBs to split more snaps for No. 15 Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) The competition to be Andrew Luck's long-term replacement is not as settled as it once seemed.

With Josh Nunes struggling to consistently move the offense, Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday that he plans to play backup quarterback Kevin Hogan more. Hogan will take about 12 to 20 snaps at Colorado on Saturday, putting pressure on Nunes to improve after several sloppy starts.

Hogan, a redshirt freshman, played only about six downs in each of the last two games. While most of that time has been as a read-option or wildcat-style quarterback, expect more passes and packages soon.

``He's not ready to take it all right now,'' Shaw said, ``and I'm not ready to take it all away from Josh.''

Nunes has started all eight games since the Indianapolis Colts selected Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The redshirt junior completed 7 of 15 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown as Stanford squeezed past lowly Washington State 24-17 last week. He never found his rhythm, and at times looked lost.

The defense, which has carried the Cardinal all season, sacked Jeff Tuel a school-record 10 times, and Ed Reynolds returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bail out the offense again.

Now the No. 15 Cardinal (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) head to Boulder to face the beleaguered Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4). Future playing time could be at stake with matchups against No. 13 Oregon State and second-ranked Oregon that will decide the Pac-12 North Division up next.

Asked if he'd consider starting Hogan should the trend for both quarterbacks continue, Shaw said: ``Anything is possible. Anything is possible, which is always the thing when you're going to give a guy more time at any position.

``We just can't have another half like we had this past game where we had 15 plays the whole first half. We have to be more efficient.''

Washington State, the only winless team in Pac-12 play, had 25 first downs to 12 for Stanford. The Cardinal converted five of them, only put together one complete drive all game, and Shaw spelled Nunes for five consecutive plays with Hogan between the third and fourth quarters.

Apparently Shaw has finally seen enough to audible from a formula that so often hasn't worked.

Nunes beat out strong-armed Brett Nottingham, once considered the favorite for the starting job, in fall practice. Hogan emerged late in that competition, and even though the depth chart still lists Nottingham as No. 2, Hogan has since passed the redshirt sophomore for playing time.

While Shaw said in spring practice he disliked a two-quarterback approach because it could disrupt rhythm, circumstances have forced him to consider otherwise.

``It's not so much a change in philosophy as saying, `This is what is prudent. This is what is the smart thing to do,''' Shaw said.

Nunes has completed 52.6 percent of his passes. Shaw has said all year he wants that figure to be at about 70 percent, especially considering Stanford doesn't throw deep that often.

Nunes has thrown for 1,620 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His struggles have been well documented in losses at Washington and Notre Dame, but so have his highlights. He led Stanford to a 21-14 victory against then-No. 2 Southern California, and rallied the Cardinal from a two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona 54-48 in overtime.

Nunes has shouldered the blame for any offensive struggles.

``It starts with me,'' he said Tuesday, adding that he isn't bothered at all by splitting time with Hogan, and praising his budding backup. ``I just need to make the throws and be more consistent and get us into the right plays more often.''

Shaw also is quick to point out that not all the blame falls on Nunes.

Top wide receiver Ty Montgomery has missed three straight games with a lower leg injury, and he dropped two key passes in the loss at Washington, among others. Stepfan Taylor ran for a career-high 189 yards against Cal two weeks ago, but then the young offense struggled to create lanes against the Cougars. The senior ran for only 58 yards on 21 carries.

Hogan has seven carries for 16 yards in four games and has only thrown the ball once, connecting with tight end Levine Toilolo for a 9-yard touchdown in Stanford's 21-3 win at rival California.

Shaw said Hogan has an ``added mobility,'' earned more playing in practices, and has ``done exceptionally well'' with the small amount of offense he has run. Shaw said he isn't worried about the potential impact on Nunes' confidence and expects the move to only motivate both quarterbacks more.

``As I said in front of the team, this is big-time college football. There's competition everywhere,'' Shaw said. ``Josh has responded great in practice, and so has Kevin. It's not necessarily to compete to be the starter. It's competing for plays.'''

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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