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Tigers again face long layoff before World Series

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Tigers again face long layoff before World Series

DETROIT (AP) The next few days may feel a bit familiar to Detroit manager Jim Leyland.

The Tigers will have to wait a while before starting the World Series. Detroit won the AL pennant Thursday, wrapping up a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees. Now the Tigers won't play again until next Wednesday, when they open on the road against the winner of the NL championship series between St. Louis and San Francisco.

In 2006, Leyland's Tigers swept Oakland in the ALCS, finishing that series Oct. 14. The World Series didn't start until Oct. 21, and Detroit lost to St. Louis in five games.

``I do think the lull between our playoff and the World Series did work against us in 2006,'' Leyland said recently. ``Now, that's not to take anything away from the St. Louis Cardinals. But all of a sudden, our emotion went from so high to just a blah, looking at each other for six days of staring at each other with really no action. That's hard.''

The Tigers have workouts planned at Comerica Park from Saturday through Monday. The big question now is how the layoff will affect Detroit's sterling starting rotation, which has a 1.02 ERA so far in the postseason.

The Tigers breezed past the Yankees, with the starters allowing only two runs in the series. Justin Verlander made three starts in the playoffs, allowing only two runs - in the first inning of his first start and the ninth inning of his most recent start.

If the trend continues, Detroit should be very tough to beat, especially with an offense that finally broke out for eight runs in Game 4 against the Yankees.

Verlander was a rookie in 2006, and the team didn't make the playoffs again until last year, when the Tigers lost in the ALCS. The ace right-hander can appreciate the journey a bit more now than in '06.

``It's different because that seemed like it was easier. We were ahead all year,'' Verlander said. ``You have more of an appreciation of how hard it is to get here.''

The Tigers needed to overtake the Chicago White Sox late in the season to win the AL Central for a second straight year. Once in the postseason, pitching has carried them - with the exception of a couple meltdowns by closer Jose Valverde.

The jovial Valverde allowed four runs in Game 1 of the ALCS and hasn't pitched since. Phil Coke saved the next two games.

Leyland has remained adamant that Detroit may still need Valverde to come through in a big spot.

``It's not only one guy. ... It takes everybody,'' Valverde said. ``I'll be ready for the World Series.''

Max Scherzer might not mind the layoff either. The right-hander's throwing shoulder acted up toward the end of the regular season, and he started Game 4 of both the division series and LCS, coming out in the sixth inning of both.

``Last year (in the playoffs) I really tried to relax and slow it down because of the situation and that didn't work,'' Scherzer said. ``This year I was able to get pumped up in the right situations.''

The pitching staff has performed so well sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder haven't had to carry too much of the load. Cabrera, the AL Triple Crown winner, homered in the finale against the Yankees, but the Tigers have been able to win in spite of an offense that's spotty at times.

``Fister and Scherzer have been dominating since the All-Star break. Then if you add that with Verlander, you've got three No. 1 starters there and they're pitching like it,'' catcher Gerald Laird said. ``That can be tough on any team, any series.''

The Tigers are now four wins from their first World Series title since 1984 - and their four starters look plenty capable of getting them.

``We're all on top of our games and executing pitches when we need to,'' Scherzer said. ``That's what makes it dangerous.''

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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RELATED LINKS: 

Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game 

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series