Eye on Rivalries: Nats-Braves showdown headlines weekend
A weekend of wall-to-wall baseball action looms, so let's take a look at which rivalries -- both on the team and individual levels -- provide the best storylines for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Spoiler alert: Two of the best teams in baseball will be squaring off. Bonus: Tim Hudson and Stephen Strasburg will be involved.
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 ...
Last October, the
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
are slated to work the three-game set in Oakland.
ALDS reboot II
In the other half of the 2012 AL bracket, the
New York 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
? 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
will match wits and pitches in D.C.
Thanks to a recent rainout,
's second start of the year was pushed back to Friday, when he and the
will take on the
St. Louis 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
. 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 Los Angeles Angels and their $128 million payroll. In fact, at 2-7, they find themselves behind the Houston 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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