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A capsule look at Reds-Giants playoff series

A capsule look at Reds-Giants playoff series

A look at the best-of-five National League division series between the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants:

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Schedule:

(All times EDT) Game 1, Saturday, at San Francisco (9:37 p.m.); Game 2, Sunday, at San Francisco (TBA); Game 3, Tuesday, at Cincinnati (TBA); x-Game 4, Wednesday, at Cincinnati (TBA); x-Game 5, Thursday, at Cincinnati (TBA). (All games on TBS or MLB Network)

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Reds won 4-3.

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Projected Lineups:

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips (.281, 18 HRs, 77 RBIs), SS Zack Cozart (.246, 15, 35), 1B Joey Votto (.337, 14, 56), LF Ryan Ludwick (.275, 26, 80), RF Jay Bruce (.252, 34, 99), 3B Scott Rolen (.245, 8, 39), CF Drew Stubbs (.213, 14, 40, team-high 30 steals), C Ryan Hanigan (.274, 2, 24).

Giants: CF Angel Pagan (.288, 8, 56, 29 SBs, 15 3Bs), 2B Marco Scutaro (.306, 7, 74 for Giants and Rockies), 3B Pablo Sandoval (.283, 12, 63), C Buster Posey (.336, 24, 103, 39 2Bs), RF Hunter Pence (.253, 24, 104 for Giants and Phillies), 1B Brandon Belt (.275, 7, 56), LF Gregor Blanco (.244, 5, 34, 26 SBs) or Xavier Nady (.184, 4, 13 for Giants and Nationals), SS Brandon Crawford (.248, 4, 45).

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Projected Rotations:

Reds: RH Johnny Cueto (19-9, 2.78 ERA, 217 IP, 170 Ks, allowed only 15 HRs), RH Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74, 202 IP, 129 Ks), RH Mat Latos (14-4, 3.48, 209 1-3 IP, team-high 185 Ks), RH Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68, 208 IP, 168 Ks, highlighted career-best season with no-hitter at Pittsburgh in late September).

Giants: RH Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79, 193 Ks, 219 1-3 IP, first perfect game in franchise history June 13 vs. Astros), LH Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37, 191 Ks), RH Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18, 186 IP, 190 Ks, matched career high with 17 wild pitches), LH Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15, 184 1-3 IP; most wins since joining Giants in `07, won final 5 starts and 7 straight decisions).

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Relievers:

Reds: LH Aroldis Chapman (5-5, 1.51, 38/43 saves), LH Sean Marshall (5-5, 2.51, 9/13 saves), RH Jonathan Broxton (3-3, 2.82, 4/6 saves), RH Sam LeCure (3-3, 3.14), RH Jose Arredondo (6-2, 2.95, 1 save), RH Logan Ondrusek (5-2, 3.46, 2 saves).

Giants: RH Santiago Casilla (7-6, 2.84, 25/31 saves), LH Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 2.70, 3 saves), LH Javier Lopez (3-0, 2.50, 7 saves, .191 BA vs. LH), RH Sergio Romo (4-2, 1.79, 14/15 saves, .185 BA against), RH Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 in 31 starts), RH George Kontos (2-1, 2.47 ERA).

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Matchups:

The Reds won two of three from the Giants at Great American Ball Park from April 24-26. The teams split a four-game series in San Francisco from June 28 to July 1. Three of the seven games were decided by one run. The Giants were held to two runs or less in four of the games. ... The Reds hold a 20-13 lead in the series over the last five seasons. .... Votto hurt his left knee while sliding into third base in San Francisco on June 29. A cartilage tear wasn't detected until after the All-Star break, and he needed two operations and missed six weeks. The Reds went 36-12 in his absence, taking control in the NL Central. Votto batted .316 in 25 games after his return, but drove in only seven runs. He hasn't homered since June 24. ... Cain had the toughest time of anyone in the Giants' rotation against Cincinnati this season, losing both of his starts. He gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-2 loss on April 24 - the most lopsided of the season series - and five runs in five innings of a 5-1 defeat on June 29. ... Bruce batted .423 against the Giants this season with a homer and seven RBIs.

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Big Picture:

Reds: They won the NL Central ahead of schedule in 2010 with a young lineup, but got swept in the playoffs by Philadelphia, including a no-hitter by Roy Halladay. Cincinnati kept the roster virtually intact for 2011 and lost ground as Cueto and Bailey got hurt during spring training and Arroyo came down with mononucleosis that limited him all season. The front office changed strategy last offseason and dealt a package of players to San Diego for Latos, including two former first-round picks and starter Edinson Volquez. They also gave Votto - the 2010 NL MVP - a 10-year contract extension worth $225 million, showing a commitment to winning. All five starters made it through the season without injury, a franchise first, and became the cornerstone of Cincinnati's second division title in three years. ... The back of the bullpen got wiped out during spring training, when setup relievers Bill Bray and Nick Masset got hurt and new closer Ryan Madson blew out his elbow. Dusty Baker did some of his best managing, slowly moving Chapman into the closer's role for the first time. The hard-throwing Cuban didn't allow an earned run in his first 24 appearances, a club record, and saved 27 consecutive chances, another franchise mark. He missed a week in mid-September with a tired shoulder, which is a concern heading into the postseason. ... Rolen was in and out of the lineup with more shoulder and back problems. Todd Frazier filled in and became a Rookie of the Year candidate with a .273 average, 19 HRs and 67 RBIs. Baker has to decide how much to play the two in the postseason.

Giants: In April, the Giants lost All-Star closer and 2010 major league saves leader Brian Wilson to a season-ending injury. In August, they lost All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Just as he did two years ago during that World Series championship run, GM Brian Sabean brought in key pieces to fill key needs: Scutaro at second and Pence in right field. They're not quite the castoffs and misfits of 2010 - Cody Ross, Pat Burrell - but more a team that overcame the absence of switch-hitting Sandoval because of two DL stints and moved forward seemingly unfazed when Cabrera got suspended. ... Posey, who missed most of last season after serious leg and ankle injuries from a frightening collision at home plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25, returned every bit the player he was during his 2010 NL Rookie of the Year campaign. ... Manager Bruce Bochy was spot-on mixing and matching in the bullpen all year, including in the closer spot after Casilla initially held the gig in place of Wilson. Newcomer Pagan made a huge impact down the stretch, while Posey captured the NL batting title and put himself in the running for MVP honors. ... Giants rookie Hector Sanchez might catch, with Posey moving to first base, when Lincecum or Zito starts.

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Watch For:

- Zito's Second Chance. The lefty makes his playoff debut for the Giants. He was held out of all three postseason rounds in 2010, but bounced back this year with his best season since the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland joined the Giants on a $126 million, seven-year contract before 2007. San Francisco has won his last 11 outings. The last time the Giants won 10 or more consecutive starts by one pitcher was when they won 11 in a row with Bill Swift starting in 1992.

- Dusty's Back. Baker returns to the Bay Area in the playoffs 10 years after he managed the Giants to a World Series defeat against the Angels before departing on difficult terms and taking over the Chicago Cubs. He was honored during the Reds' summer trip to AT&T Park. Nobody will forget when Baker's then-3 1/2-year-old bat boy son, Darren, ran into the action before J.T. Snow scooped him up at the plate and out of harm's way. Baker is in the final year of his contract and missed a string of games down the stretch because of an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. Doctors cleared him to return for the final regular-season series in St. Louis, but the 63-year-old manager will have to cope with cross-country travel for the first time since then.

- Cy Young Or Bust? Lincecum pitched the Giants past the Rangers in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner got off to a miserable start this season but made strides down the stretch. Still, he set a career high for losses.

- Pressure Cooker. Chapman's numbers are impressive but he's still a work in progress - Baker had to admonish him when the reliever did two somersaults after saving a game in late June, showing he still has trouble keeping his emotions under control at times. The Reds could use Broxton to close if Chapman struggles.

- Kung Fu Panda. Sandoval has something to prove in these playoffs after his flop in 2010. While his ever-changing girth is the subject of constant scrutiny, he wants nothing more than to make up for two years ago. Because of his struggles, Sandoval appeared in only six postseason games and one in the World Series - batting .176 (3 for 17) with two RBIs and three strikeouts.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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