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A's rookie Parker to face star-laden Tigers

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A's rookie Parker to face star-laden Tigers

DETROIT (AP) One team has the reigning MVP and another player who just won the Triple Crown.

The Oakland Athletics will try to counter all that by sending - who else? - a rookie to the mound.

``We've been the `David' all year,'' A's right-hander Jarrod Parker said. ``I think obviously it's a role and an image that we've kind of taken on and been able to embrace and it's fun.''

Parker will start against Detroit ace Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the division series Saturday night. The AL Central-champion Tigers are making their second straight playoff appearance, but Oakland emerged as one of the game's biggest surprises by winning the AL West.

Now the A's have to contend with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera - the Detroit third baseman who might win the American League MVP after Verlander took the award last year.

``We know we've got a great ballclub. We know what we have in the clubhouse,'' Cabrera said. ``We know we're going to face a very hot team like Oakland. They play unbelievable baseball right now.''

Cabrera hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. But he wasn't the only big story in the closing days of the regular season. The A's rallied to win the AL West, edging Texas by one game when they beat the Rangers on the final day.

Not bad for a team that had the lowest opening day payroll in the majors. Oakland got 56 homers and 54 wins from a cast of rookies that included Parker (13-8) and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Rookie left-hander Tommy Milone, who matched Parker with 13 wins, is slated to start Game 2.

``Obviously with Verlander going Game 1, you've got to be on your game,'' Parker said. ``We have a lot of left-handed bats that are hot right now, and I think that's one thing we've got going for us.''

Outfielder Josh Reddick, one of Oakland's left-handed hitters, hit 32 home runs this year.

The series will start with two games in Detroit, where the weather can be a factor this time of year. In 2006, the Tigers swept the A's in the AL championship series, and there were snow flurries at Comerica on a workout day between games. It rained a bit Friday, but the forecast for Saturday looked clear.

That was good news for Verlander (17-8), the powerful right-hander who had two playoff starts cut short by rain last year.

``I saw a little bit of rain today, but I saw actually on my Twitter of all places that it's not - no rain in the forecast for tomorrow,'' Verlander said.

Verlander led the majors in strikeouts this year, and Max Scherzer - Detroit's Game 4 starter - finished second. That could be an asset for the Tigers, especially since Oakland struck out more than any other team. Detroit hasn't been very good defensively in 2012, but if the A's aren't making consistent contact, it might not matter.

The Tigers are expected to start Doug Fister in Game 2, followed by Anibal Sanchez. Scherzer, who was bothered by a right shoulder issue down the stretch, threw four innings in the regular-season finale Wednesday - after twisting his right ankle two nights earlier in the celebration after Detroit clinched the division. The Tigers are content to wait until Game 4 to start him.

``The Scherzer situation - coming off a little bit of the ankle situation and the shoulder - we decided that would be the best way to go,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``It would also - just by pitching him, Sanchez in front of Scherzer - would keep Sanchez from keeping off too long.''

The A's begin the postseason days after the death of reliever Pat Neshek's newborn son. Neshek is back with the team for this series.

``As soon as I got out there and started playing catch, it takes your mind off all the bad stuff,'' Neshek told reporters. ``It's a good way of healing. . I don't think we'll ever get over it, but this is a good way to put the pieces back together.''

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena      3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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