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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 finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.