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Saunders to start Game 4 of ALDS for O's

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Saunders to start Game 4 of ALDS for O's

Most teams send their next day's starting pitcher to the interview room before a postseason game. The Baltimore Orioles sent two.

With Baltimore manager Buck Showalter publicly uncertain about his Game 4 starter against the New York Yankees, Joe Saunders sat on the podium Wednesday with Chris Tillman sitting to his left.

``We were kind of hoping you would tell us because we don't know yet,'' Saunders told reporters. ``Whoever it is, me or Chris, we're going to go out there and do our job.''

Saunders will get the start in Game 4, trying to keep the Orioles season alive. The Yankees took a 2-1 series lead on Raul Ibanez's homer in the 12th inning on Wednesday night that gave New York a 3-2 victory.

Saunders, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts after he was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26. Tillman, a 23-year-old righty, was 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts.

Tillman hasn't pitched since the regular-season finale on Oct. 3, and Saunders hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 30.

``We don't truly have maybe a one, two, three, four, five kind of rotation,'' Saunders said. ``We have maybe a couple twos, maybe a couple threes, maybe a four, whatever. Like Buck says, whoever is pitching that day is the ace. Every day is the biggest game of the year, and then we move on to the next day and then that day is the biggest game of the year.''

Saunders won his one start against the Yankees, allowing two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings to defeat CC Sabathia 5-4 on Sept. 8 at Camden Yards. Tillman was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against New York.

Baltimore was 6-3 at Yankee Stadium during the regular season after going 2-7 in the Bronx in each of the previous three years.

``This year has been a whole different feel in the clubhouse and on the field,'' Tillman said. ``We've just been playing good baseball. I think any given night it's a different guy that's a star that helps the team. It's never the same guys over and over again. Different guys pull through for us. It's exciting to watch.''

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CAPTAIN OUCH: Derek Jeter limped off the field after striking out in the eighth inning and didn't return to the Yankees' 3-2, 12 inning victory in Game 3 over the Orioles.

New York's captain fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning, just before hitting an RBI triple over the head of Baltimore's bubble-blowing center fielder Adam Jones. Jeter labored as he jogged back to the dugout but stayed in the game.

``It hurt man,'' Jeter said. ``You try having someone throw a ball at your foot as hard as they can. It's just part of the game, but I wish it didn't happen.''

Still, Jeter insisted he was going to play Thursday.

Manager Joe Girardi will wait until the shortstop comes in before batting practice to decide.

``It's day to day, and we'll see how he feels,'' Girardi said. ``Hopefully we can get him back in there.''

Slowed by a bruised ankle in September that forced him to serve as the designated hitter for six of nine games, Jeter said this injury was to a different part of the foot.

In the sixth, he slowly jogged to first on a single. After striking out in the eighth he was lifted. When fans saw Jayson Nix heading to shortstop they let out a gasp.

``I talked my way into the last at-bat and that didn't work out so well,'' he said.

Don't count Jeter out. Entering Wednesday's game Jeter had played every inning in 151 of his 154 postseason games. The only times he was lifted early came in blowout games the Yankees lost by at least 11 runs.

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FRANK TALK: Don't try to talk sabermetrics with Frank Robinson. When he won the Triple Crown in 1966, he was the MVP. And he thinks Miguel Cabrera deserves the same honor.

The Hall of Fame slugger weighed in on the AL MVP debate Wednesday after throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Game 3 of the St. Louis Cardinals-Washington Nationals series. While new-age stat-heads might favor Angels rookie Mike Trout, Robinson is definitely old school about Cabrera's .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs with the Detroit Tigers.

``Guys have had a good year, Trout especially,'' Robinson said. ``But I don't see how an individual can play on a winning ballclub and get his team into a series trying to get into the World Series and win a Triple Crown - and not be the MVP of the league.''

Robinson's impressive feat was repeated in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski, but baseball then went 45 years without a Triple Crown winner before Cabrera pulled it off.

``I'm really happy for him because I think people take the Triple Crown for granted really, take it too lightly,'' Robinson said. ``I think it's the most outstanding thing an individual player as a hitter can do. It's not an easy thing. I don't know of anybody who went into spring training and said, `I'm going to win the Triple Crown.' You can't do that.''

``What bugs me is when people start hollering in April about a guy leading the league in all three and they say, `What do you think his chances are?' And I tell them: `Slim and none and slim left town and none passed away.' You don't start thinking about Triple Crown until early or mid-September.''

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THE CUT-OFF MAN: Reds pitching coach Bryan Price was clean-shaven when he showed up at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, deciding he'd paid off his no-hitter debt.

Price started growing a mustache after Homer Bailey threw the franchise's 15th no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, making good on a vague promise from spring training.

``I don't remember it,'' Price said. ``I'm sure I said something in spring training that if any of you incompetents can potentially, somehow throw a no-hitter, I would grow a mustache or something like that. Obviously, all in jest.''

That's not how the players took it. Bailey clearly remembered it.

``After he was mobbed by his teammates, that's the first thing he said to me on the field in Pittsburgh,'' Price said.

Price let the hair on his lip grow, acknowledging he looked a little ``ridiculous'' with it. He did an interview for Bailey's start against the Giants in Game 3 on Tuesday night, then got rid of the new look.

``I honored it, going on national television with a mustache in a game that Homer pitched, and once he got done with it, I couldn't get it off fast enough,'' Price said.

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FOR STARTERS: After going 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts, Brian Matusz was demoted to the minors in midseason by the Orioles. When he returned in late August, he blossomed into one of baseball's best left-hander relievers, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

Coming out of the bullpen, Matusz held left-handed hitters to a .179 average (5 for 28) and righties to 0 for 16.

Still, his stay in the `pen could be a brief one.

``Brian will more than likely go in the spring as a starter,'' manager Brian Showalter said Wednesday. ``We think he can go back and do this, but he needs to get his innings. It was also a carrot for him to come back to the big leagues, so there was a lot of want-to there.''

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Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

MORE ALL-STAR NEWS: