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Eye on Rivalries: Nats-Braves showdown headlines weekend

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg promise what could be the best pitching matchup of the weekend. (Getty Images)

More MLB: Scoreboard | Standings | Probable Pitchers | Sortable Stats | Odds

Want some weekend intrigue? We're here to help, as we've sussed out the rivalry angle in the biggest series ahead. Let's make with the hatred ...

ALDS reboot

Last October, the A's and Tigers went the max five games in the ALDS. For Detroit, it was the first step toward the pennant. For the A's, it was the end of an improbable season rivaled only by the miracles in Baltimore. This time around, the two teams still have legitimate designs on the World Series, and the A's come in with the best record in the AL. They'll get the Tigers' best shot, as Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez are slated to work the three-game set in Oakland.

ALDS reboot II

In the other half of the 2012 AL bracket, the Orioles and Yankees also went the full five games. They'll meet for a three-game encounter in the Bronx starting Friday, and this one, of course, is spiced with some longstanding intra-divisional hostilities. Worth noting: The two teams played to a 9-9 record last season, but the Yankees -- as you might imagine -- hold a comfortable lead in the all-time series: 1,257-857.

NL East heavyweight fight

Is there anyone who thinks the NL East won't come down to the Nationals and Braves? These two clubs figure to be on the short list of best teams in baseball all season long, and that has certainly been the case so far. In 2012, both teams made the postseason (and both were eliminated by the Cardinals). And if expectations hold, they'll be a part of the playoff fray once again. Consider Saturday's encounter the headliner, as Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg will match wits and pitches in D.C.

Lohse returns

Thanks to a recent rainout, Kyle Lohse's second start of the year was pushed back to Friday, when he and the Brewers will take on the Cardinals in St. Louis. Lohse, you'll recall, pitched for the Cardinals from 2008-12 and last season wound up being the ace of the staff (211 IP, 134 ERA+). Also worth noting is that, on Friday night, the Cardinals will honor the late, great Stan Musial. Saturday's matchup might be the most appealing, as Yovani Gallardo will oppose Adam Wainwright. Also at stake? The belt and the title.

The sum of all Angel fears

Needless to say, the 2013 season is not going swimmingly for the Angels and their $128 million payroll. In fact, at 2-7, they find themselves behind the Astros and their $21 million payroll. If you're an Angels fan, then you're likely explaining away that 2-7 start by pointing out that the schedule has been pretty brutal to date (Reds, Rangers and A's). But what if the Houston jalopy rolls into town and takes the series? The Angels are tasked with not bottoming out in humiliating fashion against their new division rivals. At stake: AL punchline status.

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