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World Series: Cabrera, Tigers vs Posey, Giants

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World Series: Cabrera, Tigers vs Posey, Giants

Way back in spring training, Hunter Pence hit a wicked grounder that smacked Miguel Cabrera in the face. A few months later, Pablo Sandoval launched a bases-loaded triple off Justin Verlander in the All-Star game.

Here they all are again, with everything at stake.

Tigers-Giants in the World Series.

A driven team from Detroit, loaded with power bats and arms, guided by wily Jim Leyland and coming off an impressive sweep. A surging squad from San Francisco, boosted by its rotation and talented catcher Buster Posey, fresh from a Game 7 win over defending champion St. Louis.

A Triple Crown winner in Cabrera versus a perfect-game pitcher in Matt Cain. The Motor City vs. the City by the Bay, starting with Game 1 on Wednesday in the California twilight.

``I'll have to learn a lot about them real soon, to be honest,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

``I know what a great club they are. And we know all about the guy we're going to be facing opening day and their whole staff,'' he said. ``They swept the Yankees. That tells you how good they are.''

Verlander will throw the first pitch for the Tigers. Bochy said he hasn't looked that far in advance.

It's certainly a unique pairing. Both franchises have been around for well over a century and are stacked with Hall of Famers - Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Carl Hubbell, Al Kaline and many more - yet they've never faced each other in the postseason.

Not too much recent history, either. The clubs have played only 12 games since interleague action began in 1997, most recently last year at Comerica Park. That series was notable because the Tigers fired pitching coach Rick Knapp following the final game, a day after Barry Zito and the Giants trounced Max Scherzer in a 15-3 romp.

``From Day One of spring training, we're getting ready for this,'' Giants center fielder Angel Pagan said. ``We're going to be ready. We're going to just keep playing baseball like we do.''

Much has changed since then.

Prince Fielder arrived in Detroit this year after a season-ending injury to Victor Martinez, and teamed with Cabrera as a most formidable tandem in the middle of the lineup.

Melky Cabrera joined the Giants and won MVP honors at the All-Star game. A month later, he was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for a positive testosterone test. He isn't on the postseason roster.

The Giants bolstered their infield by trading for scrappy Marco Scutaro in late July, and he became the MVP of the NL championship series. They fortified their outfield a few days later by getting Pence from Philadelphia.

Earlier this year, Pence's bad-hop grounder broke a bone below Cabrera's eye and caused a bloody gash that needed eight stitches to close. Cabrera recovered fine, and will be the first Triple Crown winner to play in the World Series since Carl Yastrzemski and Boston lost in 1967.

There's been a lot of shuffling in the bullpens this year.

Closer Brian Wilson helped San Francisco win the 2010 World Series, but is out this season because of an elbow injury. The bearded reliever became a loud cheerleader in the dugout as the Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit against Cincinnati in the best-of-five division series, then rallied from a 3-1 hole to beat the Cardinals in the NLCS.

San Francisco closed out the Cards 9-0 on Monday night, getting the final out in a driving rainstorm at AT&T Park.

The Tigers, back in the World Series for the first time since 2006 and trying to win their first crown since Sparky Anderson's gang in 1984, relied on excitable closer Jose Valverde until the playoffs. But when he struggled against the Athletics and Yankees, Leyland looked for other options.

Leyland has certainly had time to prepare for this matchup - not that it's a good thing. The Tigers will have had five days off since dismantling the Yankees, and the 67-year-old manager has done more than figure out how to use ALCS MVP Delmon Young when there's no designated hitter at in San Francisco.

The Tigers also had nearly a week off before starting the 2006 World Series, and the team from the Rust Belt looked rusty. Detroit pitchers made five errors in a five-game wipeout by the Cardinals.

A troubling trend, perhaps: Three previous times one LCS ended in a sweep while the other went seven games, and each time the team that played Game 7 easily won the World Series.

Then again, the Tigers have Verlander totally rested for the opener.

The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner is dominating this postseason, going 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA, striking out 25 in 24 1-3 innings. Hardly the form he flashed in the All-Star game, when he couldn't control his 100 mph heat and Sandoval's triple highlighted a five-run first inning.

Cain wound up with the win, the NL romped and earned home-field advantage in the World Series.

Zito is likely to pitch Game 1 for Bochy's bunch. Left off the postseason roster in 2010 - his poor pitching didn't fit with the Giants' self-described group of ``misfits'' - he has resurrected his career this year and made a key start in the NLCS.

Not so sure is what will become of Tim Lincecum. A star on the title team two years ago, the shaggy-haired two-time Cy Young winner struggled this season. Bumped from the playoff rotation, he excelled in the bullpen and earned a start, but was shaky in Game 4 against St. Louis.

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This video of early Thomas Bryant-Isaiah Thomas chemistry should make Wizards fans smile

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Isaiah Thomas Instagram

This video of early Thomas Bryant-Isaiah Thomas chemistry should make Wizards fans smile

One of the best parts of the NBA offseason, behind free-agency and the draft, has to be the open run's that go on all summer long. These sessions give an opportunity for NBA players to team up with each other, while also playing alongside high school, college, and overseas talent. 

Some new Wizards teammates, Isaiah Thomas and Thomas Bryant, made their way to the Rico Hines private run in Los Angeles, California to establish some chemistry before training camp opens in late September.  

As seen above, IT is no stranger to sharing the sugar as he finished top 20 in the league in assists per game (5.9) in 2016, the last season he was fully healthy. While TB is one of the most efficient rim-runners in the league, leading the NBA in two-point field goal percentage (68.5) last season. 

Could this be a preview of what to expect come season's tip? Wizards fans sure hope so. 

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Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins teams up with Raiders' receiver Antonio Brown for an offseason workout

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins teams up with Raiders' receiver Antonio Brown for an offseason workout

With training camp right around the corner, Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins teamed up with the most high-profile Oakland Raiders' offseason acquisition, wide receiver Antonio Brown. 

Brown and Haskins went through a private route session that featured some pretty impressive ball placement and one-handed snags. 

This isn't the first time Haskins and Brown have worked with each other. In 2018 Haskins spent his spring break on the beach in South Florida throwing to "AB" and Falcons wide receiver, Mohamed Sanu. 

Haskins has also got some work in with other NFL talent this offseason as just last week he posted a post-workout photo with Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, Parris Campbell Jr.; Haskins and Campbell were teammates at Ohio State last season.

There's an old adage that "you're only as good as the company you keep," if this is the case Redskins fans have a lot to look forward to from "Simba" this season. 

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