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Tigers to face Yankees in ALCS

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Tigers to face Yankees in ALCS

DETROIT (AP) A day to rest - and a trip to New York.

Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers will face a familiar foe in the AL championship series.

The Tigers had less than 24 hours to savor their five-game victory over the Oakland Athletics before learning their opposition in the ALCS. Detroit will face the Yankees in a rematch of last year's playoffs.

New York edged Baltimore 3-1 on Friday night in the deciding Game 5 of the division series. The Tigers were set to fly hours later, with Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night and Doug Fister facing Andy Pettitte.

Detroit beat the Yankees in five games in the playoffs last year before losing in the ALCS to Texas.

``We don't want to be satisfied,'' general manager Dave Dombrowski said after Detroit eliminated Oakland with a 6-0 victory Thursday night. ``Now we're there. But we've been there before. Now we want that next step. We want eight more wins.''

Verlander led the Tigers past the Athletics by throwing a four-hit shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5.

The Tigers signed slugging first baseman Prince Fielder in the offseason in an effort to win their first World Series since 1984. Detroit took the AL Central for the second straight year, but its offense hasn't necessarily lived up to expectations despite the presence of Fielder and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

Instead, it's been the pitching -specifically from the starting rotation - that has lifted the Tigers lately. Verlander allowed a home run by Coco Crisp to open the division series and calmly shut the A's out after that, winning both his starts. For the series, Detroit starters went 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA against a strikeout-prone Oakland lineup.

Fister and the rest of Detroit's entire postseason rotation is right-handed, bringing Alex Rodriguez's role into immediate question for the Yankees.

The Tigers look healthier than they were in last year's ALCS, when catcher Alex Avila seemed worn down and outfielders Delmon Young and Magglio Ordonez were injured to varying degrees. Verlander's impact on the 2011 playoffs was limited too, since two of his starts were cut short by bad weather.

That hasn't been an issue so far this year.

``We still felt like we were going to win. We didn't care who was pitching,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ``He went out there and pitched probably one of the better games of his career at a big time. There's not much, at times, you can do about that when a guy like that with that much ability goes out and pitches as well as he did.''

On Friday, the remnants of Detroit's cigar and bubbly party from the previous night were still being cleaned up from the visiting clubhouse in Oakland. But the vanquished A's gave the Tigers high marks.

``Jim Leyland was a class act,'' Melvin said. ``He came over to our dugout before celebrating with his team.''

Leyland has managed the Tigers to the playoffs for the third time - and each time Detroit has faced the Yankees. The Tigers beat New York in the division series en route to the 2006 AL pennant, and again last year.

One potential concern for Detroit is the bullpen. Joaquin Benoit has struggled to keep the ball in the park, and closer Jose Valverde lost Game 4 of the Oakland series, putting the Tigers on the brink of elimination.

Still, Detroit's impressive rotation of Verlander, Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer makes the Tigers a threat against anyone. Verlander is slated to pitch Games 3 and 7 of the ALCS.

``This is the best stuff I've seen,'' Dombrowski said. ``To come in and do what he did, Game 5, everything on the line, to do what he did - that's why in my eyes he's the best pitcher in baseball.''

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.