Orioles

Stanford doubles down on upsetting No. 1 teams

201211172315837204919-p2.jpeg

Stanford doubles down on upsetting No. 1 teams

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) During the football team's most recent ``movie night'' held before every game, Stanford coach David Shaw quieted his players to announce that the women's basketball team had beaten top-ranked Baylor. The room erupted in excitement, and Shaw shushed everybody again to make one more statement.

``I said, `OK, now it's our turn,''' Shaw said. ``It was just kind of like, `OK, yeah.'''

The trend started on the Hawaii hardwood, moved onto the football field in Eugene and finally floated all over Twitter, where Stanford players put the perfect label on an unforgettable weekend: Revenge of the Nerds.

Tara VanDerveer's team ended Brittney Griner and the Lady Bears' 42-game winning streak. Shaw and his players outsmarted No. 1 Oregon 17-14 in overtime Saturday to complete a dramatic double, and ``Nerd Nation'' - as athletes across all sports on this quant Silicon Valley campus call themselves - enjoyed a giant I-told-you-so celebration.

The victories went well beyond the Cardinal getting payback on the programs that ruined each team's national title hopes last season. Both showed that success can still be reached well after Andrew Luck and Nnemkadi Ogwumike - the No. 1 overall draft picks in each sport - have left The Farm.

``I think it was special,'' Shaw said Tuesday. ``You could draw a parallel to say that the women's basketball team lost one of the best players in the country, but they want to prove that they're a good team. We can say that we fall into that category also, whereas we lost the best player in the country in our sport, and we also want to prove to ourselves as well as to other people that we're a good football team that can compete against anybody.''

Consider it done.

Along with losing Luck to the Indianapolis Colts, three other Stanford players were selected in the top 42 picks in April's NFL draft, and both starting safeties and wide receivers are also on NFL rosters or practice squads now. Taking down the previously undefeated Ducks at amped-up Autzen Stadium has surprisingly put the Cardinal (9-2, 7-1) in control to host the Pac-12 Conference championship game - something a Luck-led team never did - if they can beat No. 15 UCLA on Saturday.

VanDerveer is still learning how her team will play over the course of the season after losing Ogwumike to graduation and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. The Hall of Fame coach has talked to her team since training camp about what the football program has been able to accomplish long after its leader left, citing examples of defense and unselfishness that go beyond any one player.

The women's team got even more pumped up when they were informed over the public address system during pregame warm-ups against Hawaii on Saturday that the football team had upset Oregon.

``When they did it, they could hear us cheering from Hawaii,'' said VanDerveer, whose Cardinal (5-0) beat Baylor 71-69 and eventually captured the Rainbow Wahine tournament in Honolulu to become the top-ranked team in the latest Associated Press poll. ``When we won, we could hear them cheering from Oregon.''

The rigorous academics, adjacent facilities and shared dining halls naturally bring Stanford athletes closer together. The football and women's basketball teams, however, have grown even tighter behind the rallying cry of Nerd Nation.

``It's sort of like a conspiracy,'' joked junior forward Chiney Ogwumike, the younger sister of Nnemkadi.

Football players first began to embrace the stereotype when former coach Jim Harbaugh brought a more physical, run-first style to the program and opponents often teased that a team full of future venture capitalists, engineers and even politicians couldn't be tough. The women's team took it a step further last season, when the Ogwumike sisters created a spoof video called ``Nerd City Kids'' that included football players. The video went viral all over YouTube and social media.

Ogwumike said she has even lobbied for a banner to be placed at the campus' entrance that reads: ``Welcome to Nerd City.''

``It's having a little chip on our shoulder, but also acknowledging that the culture around here for athletics is a little bit different and embracing that,'' Mohawk-wearing middle linebacker Shayne Skov said.

Players for each team said the departure of their transcendent teammate drove players to prove the program went beyond any one player - a sentiment both Luck and Nnemkadi Ogwumike used to share with anybody who would listen, though few often did.

Now more than ever, no longer can anybody - including coaches - be complacent. No longer can the team depend on its most dominating player to steal a victory, and nobody's talents - or flaws - can be covered up.

``Knowing that people are kind of like, what are you going to do without Neka? Everybody just kind of like comes together,'' forward Taylor Greenfield said. ``We have so many more and so many different weapons this year and so many opportunities for other people to step up, so I think people are more excited.''

Past failures also have pulled the programs together.

The Stanford women's basketball team has reached the Final Four the last five years - losing to Baylor in its latest appearance - and never won the title. VanDerveer - not one to mix words - said her team is showing stronger signs of progression in November than it did in recent seasons. For instance, she said none of the players even knew they were No. 1 until she told them.

The football team's only regular-season loss the previous two years had come against Oregon. Beating the seemingly unstoppable Ducks after two years of torment has made the victory even sweeter - perhaps especially for those no longer around.

``Great game by the Cardinal in Eugene,'' said former Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, now the Big 12 Conference commissioner. ``Sure fouled up the national championship picture.''

---

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

---

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this story.

Quick Links

Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

usatsi_10954621.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.

Quick Links

Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

daniel_murphy.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: