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Rangers tab Darvish to start playoff opener

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Rangers tab Darvish to start playoff opener

From Comcast SportsNet

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Yu Darvish will start the Texas Rangers' first playoff game -- and he finally knows all the details about who and when.

Manager Ron Washington announced Darvish as his pick before the Rangers lost their regular-season finale at Oakland 12-5 on Wednesday to wind up as an AL wild card.

"Of course I'm ready," Darvish said through an interpreter. "If I'm not ready I probably wouldn't be picked. I'm going to approach it like any other start. I'll try to pitch well and give my team a chance to win."

The two-time reigning AL champion Rangers will play in the new one-game, wild-card playoff on Friday at home against the Baltimore Orioles.

"He's finally Yu Darvish," Washington said of the club's prized offseason pickup. "I don't know the date, but it was Boston. He found Yu Darvish then, and he's been Yu Darvish since. He was searching to find what he was capable of doing over here. And I think he realizes now that competing in a relaxed, trusting and believing, that there was something he was searching for all year and he finally found it. Which is what he is when he's at his best, which is what all pitchers are when they're at their best. It's not just those adjectives I've described as Yu Darvish. That's pitchers, period, when they're at their best."

The 26-year-old is 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 29 starts and 191 1-3 innings in his first major league season after a stellar career in Japan. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has 221 strikeouts to just 89 walks and was an All-Star.

He won his final four decisions and hasn't lost in six starts since Aug. 17.

Washington met with Darvish after his Aug. 6 start at Boston, a 9-2 loss in which he was tagged for six earned runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. Darvish has lost only once since, at Toronto on Aug. 17.

"Mainly, it's mental. I'm pitching with more of a strong mind and with confidence," Darvish said. "We had a conversation (in Boston). But we didn't talk in depth about pitching."

Darvish won his first four decisions under the huge hype of his first season in the big leagues. Before being selected an All-Star, the diplomatic pitcher insisted his numbers needed to be on par with the best in the game to earn consideration.

Darvish -- with his rock star status from Japan still ever present at spring training -- arrived at the team's Surprise, Ariz., spring site with his shaggy hair tinted orange and a dark goatee. His every move was monitored for months, and still is.

Darvish signed a 56 million, six-year contract, and the Rangers paid his Japanese club 51.7 million just to acquire him.

"I keep saying it, the guy was under tremendous pressure coming over here, learning everything, making adjustments," Washington said. "It took that point for him to find the adjustments he had to make to become what he always knew he was and we knew he was, and he found it. And that would be no different if it was any other pitcher who's a pretty good pitcher making adjustments."

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

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USA Today Sports Images

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and everybody will predict the team’s season-long record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing.

Myself included. 

But don’t read much, if anything, into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. 

What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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Another Thanksgiving game for Redskins

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Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

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NBC Sports Washington

Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

The 2018 NFL regular-season schedule is finally here.

We’ve known who the Redskins will play in the 2018 season and where the games will be played since the regular season ended.

Now we know the when.

Here is the Redskins 2018 schedule; games are at 1:00 Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

The first thing that jumps out is the Thanksgiving game. This will be the third straight year that the Redskins have played on Thanksgiving. Two years ago they lost at Dallas and last year the got a win over the Giants at home. 

Three Thanksgiving games in a row for a team that is not the Lions or Cowboys, the two teams that traditionally host on Turkey Day, is not without precedent although it is unusual. Besides Dallas and Detroit, only two teams have played in three straight Thanksgiving games since the 1970 merger.

The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between the played at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Washington Redskins 2018 Regular-Season Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9. 4:05 PM at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 Sunday, 9/16 vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 Sunday, 9/23 vs Green Bay Packers
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Monday, 10/8. 8:15 at New Orleans Saints 
Week 6 Sunday, 10/14. vs Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Sunday, 10/21. 4:25 vs Cowboys
Week 8 Sunday, 10/28.  At New York Giants
Week 9 Sunday, 11/4. vs Atlanta Falcons 
Week 10 Sunday, 11/11. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Week 11 Sunday, 11/18. vs Houston Texans 
Week 12 Thursday, 11/22 (Thanksgiving).  4:30 at Dallas Cowboys 
Week 13 Monday, 12/3. 8:15 at Philadelphia Eagles 
Week 14 Sunday, 12/9. vs New York Giants 
Week 15 Sunday, 12/16. At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16 Sunday, 12/23.  At Tennessee Titans (Time TBD)
Week 17 Sunday, 12/30. vs Philadelphia Eagles

2018 REDSKINS SCHEDULE NOTES:

  • If the Redskins are going to take advantage of home cooking, they will need to get off to a good start. They have five home games in the first half of the season. After Week 9 they have just three home games and they face a stretch of four road games in five weeks in late November and December. Three of the teams in that stretch, the Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans, made the playoffs and won at least one game. The Eagles, of course, won it all. The other road game in that stretch is against the Cowboys, who finished 9-7 last year. 
     
  • The Redskins will open on the road for the first time since 2014 when they opened in Houston. This year they will have to travel west to Arizona and try to win to remove the goose egg in Jay Gruden’s 0-4 opening-game record as coach of the Redskins.
     
  • They get an early bye, in Week 4. That will be their earliest bye week since 2007 when the bye also came in Week 4. 
     
  • On the plus side, their two games in Florida come at times when hot weather is unlikely to be a factor. Their game in Tampa comes in November and the contest at Jacksonville comes in mid-December. 
     

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