Redskins

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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Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

A few years ago, the hit would've been celebrated. Last year, it would've gone down as a drive-ending sack.

But in 2018, with the NFL's new emphasis on defenders not being able to fall on quarterbacks with a lot of force, Clay Matthews' very normal-looking third quarter takedown of Alex Smith was ruled roughing the passer.

As a result, the Redskins got to stay on the field. And for the second week in a row, Matthews found himself at the center of a very controversial call.

"Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction that a lot of people don't like and I think they're getting soft," the veteran said after Washington's 31-17 win over Green Bay. "I've been playing this game for over 20 years and that's how you tackle."

Matthews has a point. In a sport that's concerned about dirty or dangerous collisions, this looks like a flawless hit:

But the roughing the passer flag was tossed not because of where Matthews hit Smith or when he hit him. The issue, in the eyes of the officials, is the way he finished the sequence.

"I had judged that the defender landed on the quarterback when he was tackling him with most or all of his body weight and that's not allowed," referre Craig Wrolstad said following the contest. "That was basically my key, that he landed on him with most or all of his body weight."

The person on the not-so-fun end of the exchange had no problem with it, though.

"It's tough," Smith said during his time at the FedEx Field podium. "I'm glad I don't play defense... I felt like he’s playing football. He’s played a long time. He hit me right in the strike zone."

Smith wasn't the only 'Skin to speak out in support of Matthews, either.

"What else do you want the man to do?" Josh Norman (who actually has the same agent as Matthews) asked reporters in the home locker room. "Like, seriously, what else do you want the man to do? "

"When I saw it, there was no malicious, ill intent," Norman continued. "I understand the rules of the situation, but at the same time, it sucks being a defender now. They hit your pockets and then they hit you for a penalty."

The NFL is clearly trying to make itself safer, which is both smart and necessary. But its approach in how its doing so has been confusing in a few critical areas, and this part of roughing the passer enforcement has temporarily surpassed the catch rule and the helmet rule as the most muddled of them all.

After all, when the QB and other opponents have no complaints about a tackle but the refs and the wording of the rule do, there's a disconnect. One that should be addressed.

"I think there's some gray area here with this that needs to be ironed out," Smith observed.  

For a signal caller who was accurate for much of the afternoon, that statement might've been the most on-point part of his day.

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Trent Williams to undergo 'minor' surgery, expected to play in Week 5

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Trent Williams to undergo 'minor' surgery, expected to play in Week 5

Following an offseason procedure on his right knee, Trent Williams looked back and better than ever during Redskins' OTAs prior to the start of this season. However, we have now learned that Williams' knee has been bothering him despite the successful offseason surgery.

According to ABC 7's Erin Hawksworth, Trent Williams will be undergoing a 'minor procedure' on his right knee Monday.

The procedure is believed to be a 'clean up,' to ensure Williams' knee has held up post-surgery.

With Week 4 being an early bye-week for the Redskins, Williams has a little extra time to recover before his anticipated return during Week 5 vs. the New Orleans Saints.

The 30-year-old is in his ninth season with the Redskins and has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times. 

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