Brett Anderson prevents A's from early elimination

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Brett Anderson prevents A's from early elimination

From Comcast SportsNet
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics will play another day in this improbable season full of remarkable rallies.These A's never count themselves out -- down and doubted is their dogma.Brett Anderson outdueled fellow postseason first-timer Anibal Sanchez and the upstart Athletics showed off stellar defense all over the diamond, avoiding another playoff sweep by Detroit by beating the Tigers 2-0 Tuesday night in their AL division series.The A's cut their deficit in the best-of-five matchup to 2-1.Coco Crisp, whose misplay dearly cost Oakland in Game 2, saved a likely home run by Prince Fielder with a leaping catch at the top of the center-field wall in the second inning."You see him hit it and you just kind of put your head down a little bit because you think you just gave up a homer," Anderson said. "Then you see him plow through there and catch the ball and it kind of kick starts you to go out there and make pitches."Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI single in the first inning and Seth Smith homered in the fifth. That was plenty on a night Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and the Tigers' high-priced offense were shut down by the low-budget A's.Tigers 16-game winner Max Scherzer will try to close out the series in Game 4 Wednesday night against A's rookie A.J. Griffin. Detroit swept the A's in the 2006 AL championship series.Fielder was the biggest victim of Oakland's spot-on defense, robbed three times. First by Crisp, Oakland's most experienced player whose blunder on Cabrera's fly allowed two runs to score in a 5-4 loss Sunday in Detroit."Not to be all over-confident or anything, I think I'm going to catch everything out there," Crisp said. "Obviously it doesn't happen that way -- duh Detroit, right?"Crisp let out a big "Whoo!" after raising his arm to signal he'd made the grab."Coco's catch, the ball was out of the ballpark and it came back," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The key to that play was he was playing deep and that enabled him to get into a spot to get up and make the catch. And it was a great catch, no doubt about it."A's shortstop Stephen Drew made a tough play running to his left to stop Fielder's grounder in the fourth and then threw to first while still off balance and in motion.Then, in the seventh, Cespedes cut over to make a diving catch on Fielder's liner to left field.That delighted the yellow towel-waving sellout crowd of 37,090 in this blue-collar city."It's frustrating. But it's a good team you're playing," Fielder said. "They're going to make those plays, that's why they're here."After Cabrera singled with one out in the ninth, Fielder grounded into a game-ending double play.The A's own the lowest payroll in baseball at 59.5 million. Fielder is getting big money in Motown: 214 million over nine years.Anderson, back on the mound for the first time since straining a muscle in his right side Sept. 19 at Detroit, worked quickly and showed no signs of a layoff or jitters in his first postseason start.That's just not the way the A's have operated this year.Last week, Oakland entered its final three-game series of the regular season needing to sweep the two-time reigning AL champion Rangers to capture the AL West -- and the A's did it, sending a stunned Texas team to the one-game wild card, which it lost to Baltimore.A club with a majors-best 14 walkoff wins and countless whipped cream pie celebrations snapped the longest postseason skid in franchise history at six games. All of those against the Tigers, too.The Tigers are trying to reach second straight AL championship series after losing last year's ALCS in six games to the Rangers.Detroit captured the AL Central in Oakland last year and is hoping for another clinching party as soon as possible.Anderson did his job to delay it.He insisted he was healthy and ready to go -- and manager Bob Melvin took his pitcher at his word and gave him a shot in his biggest start yet. Anderson had shown plenty when he returned in August following a 14-month absence recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery and made six impressive starts.Not feeling quite 100 percent, he allowed two hits, struck out six and walked two in six innings. He was on a pitch count of 80 and was done at exactly that, though was never told about it beforehand."I don't know how you could expect more than we got out of him tonight," Melvin said.Next, the reliable bullpen took over.Ryan Cook pitched the seventh, Sean Doolittle struck out the side in order in the eighth and closer Grant Balfour finished the four-hitter for a save. The A's staff pitched the 11th postseason shutout by the franchise, while the Tigers were blanked for the 13th time in the postseason.The A's had lost five straight while facing elimination in the postseason, one shy of the longest active streak by the Twins.But this group has defied expectations ever since the first full workout at spring training back in February when the A's lost third baseman Scott Sizemore to a season-ending knee injury. Opening day starter Brandon McCarthy took a line drive to the head Sept. 5 and needed brain surgery. Starter Bartolo Colon was suspended for 50 games in August for a positive testosterone test.Oakland became the first team in major league history to win the division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with fewer than 10 to go. The A's were five back of the Rangers with nine left, then won their final six all at home with sweeps of Seattle and Texas.Smith hit a towering drive to the deepest part of center field in the fifth for yet another timely home run for the A's, whose 112 longballs after the All-Star break led the majors."That's how you win postseason baseball games, with pitching and defense and timely hitting," Smith said. "We had that. We got two runs and that's all we needed. Anderson was great and our defense was, too."Sanchez gave up five hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked two.NOTES:Smith hit his first postseason homer and third lifetime against Sanchez in 15 at-bats. ... At 24 years, 251 days, Anderson became the fifth-youngest pitcher in Oakland history to make his first career postseason start. ... Both Bay Area teams avoided elimination after the NL West champion San Francisco Giants won at Cincinnati earlier in the night. ... Oakland sold out for the eighth time this year and second straight -- the regular-season finale vs. Texas drew 36,067 -- including 1,000 standing-room only tickets and extra suite sales. It was the biggest crowd at the Coliseum since drawing 43,974 against the Yankees on Sept. 4, 2005, before the upper decks were tarped.

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Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take another position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex.. So who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Wide receiver

On the roster: Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis, Brian Quick, Kendal Thompson, James Quick, Matt Hazel, Levern Jacobs, Zach Pascal

Locks: Pryor, Crowder, Harris, Doctson

A year ago, the wide receiver group was being touted as one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL. This year, after the free agency departures of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson, not so much.

Pryor will be the nominal No. 1, although it’s hard to call a guy who has one season as a receiver and just barely over 1,000 yards (1,007 to be exact) on his stat sheet a true No. 1. But that is what he wants to be and the Redskins will give him the opportunity to do so.

RELATED: True or false: Kelly Redskins leading rusher

We all know the trials and tribulations of Doctson’s rookie year. Should expectations for him be like those for a rookie? Few receivers start out of the gate quickly as it is a difficult position to learn. Or should more be expected out of him since he did spend a year attending meetings and getting in some practice time and some snaps in games? For his part, he is staying quiet and working hard, a good approach in his situation. He didn’t make any spectacular plays in offseason practices but he also didn’t have any major errors.

Crowder will stay in the slot for the most part, although he will occasionally move outside when Pryor and/or Doctson aren’t in the game. Along with tight end Jordan Reed, Crowder could benefit from being the familiar face that Kirk Cousins has to throw to. It would surprise nobody if Crowder ended up being the team’s leader in receptions and receiving yards.

We will find out this year if Harris is an undrafted free agent find or a failed project. He looked the part in his very limited opportunities (12 targets, 8 receptions) in 2016. But more opportunities do not always lead to more productivity. Harris dealt fine with low expectations as a rookie after he was promoted from the practice squad in Week 7. Now he has a shot at being the No. 4 receiver, the first one off the bench if someone gets injured. That’s a different world and the Redskins hope he is able to handle it.

On the bubble: B. Quick, Grant, Davis

The Redskins signed Quick hoping that he could be an experienced, inexpensive guy down the depth chart. He was disappointing in offseason practices and he will need a strong training camp to stay around.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Grant is a favorite of Jay Gruden’s. The coach constantly praises his work ethic and versatility. On the other hand, his production, nine receptions in 16 games last year, doesn’t get mentioned much.

Davis was a sixth-round pick out of Georgia State. He has a huge learning curve and it showed in offseason practices. If he makes the team he likely will spend many weeks as the inactive sixth receiver.

Long shots: Thompson, J. Quick, Hazel, Jacobs, Pascal

Of this group, Jacobs looked the best in OTAs and he might have opportunity as there really isn’t a natural backup for Jamison Crowder as the slot receiver. But the realistic goal for any of these players is the practice squad.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Wizards may not have wiggled way back into NBA draft via trade or buying a pick but had a plan

Wizards may not have wiggled way back into NBA draft via trade or buying a pick but had a plan

The NBA draft came and went without president Ernie Grunfeld taking a player because the Wizards didn't trade in or purchase a pick.

But they were able to sign two undrafted free agents in Devin Robinson and Michael Young who have a legitimate chance to play their way onto the roster when the regular season tips in four months.

Robinson is an athletic, 6-8 forward with a 7-5 wingspan. He can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim with authority though he's thin at 200 pounds. He's not just athletic but NBA athletic and shot 39% from the college three-point range.

Young, a senior, is a 6-9 power foward who averaged 19.6 points at Pittsburgh. Robinson was a junior. 

Why didn't Wizards buy a pick?

Golden State did it for the second year in a row by purchasing No. 38 from the Chicago Bulls. After paying $2.4 million for that spot last year to get Patrick McCaw, it cost them $3.5 million for Jordan Bell. If a team really likes a player but think he's going to be gone and don't have the pick to get him, this is the easiest move to make if you find another team that wants to unload its selection.

They do so for reasons that go beyond cash such as lack of roster spots available because of guaranteed contracts or because they're just not feeling the players who are left to choose from and would rather just take the money than go through a wasted exercise. After trading the No. 52 pick on Wednesday to get backup guard Tim Frazier, the Wizards felt that Robinson and Young were going to go undrafted and could get them without paying for the pick so they stood pat. 

It was a similar tact taken a year ago with Sheldon Mac and Daniel Ochefu who were signed immediately after they went undrafted and stuck in Washington all seaosn.

What if both players pan out and make the roster?

That's not a problem. That's a good thing. Of course, that won't be known for a long time but that would add some intrigue to the bigger picture cause the Wizards are loaded with fowards: Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter, Jason Smith, Markieff Morris, Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough.

And given his size at 6-7, point guard Tomas Satoransky can be (and has) used as one, too, by coach Scott Brooks. It would be a good problem to have because the Wizards would have extra chips to do something in the trade market during an offseason in which they have almost no cap room. Trades would be the most likely route to do anything significant to upgrade. But that's a long ways away as both have to show well at Las Vegas summer league next month and go from there.

What about a shooter behind Bradley Beal?

There currrently isn't one. Mac has a lot to prove but he's more of a scorer than a shooter at this point. The Wizards like to deploy three forwards which is a way to get around it but there's not a true shooting guard in sight. The league is going to a position-less game where teams are tied into playing two guards, two forwards and a center. But there can never been too many shooters regardless of position. 

But if Robinson and Young perform to expectations -- and that's a big if -- they'll be able to address that area. But what was anticipated to be a ho-hum summer league experience just got a lot more interesting.