From Comcast SportsNetARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles will get another chance to overtake the New York Yankees.The surprising O's have already beaten some big odds, getting past the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers and their Japanese ace, Yu Darvish, in the win-or-go-home wild-card playoff.Joe Saunders pitched effectively into the sixth inning at a place where he had never won, Adam Jones delivered the tiebreaking sacrifice fly and the Orioles, in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, eliminated the Rangers 5-1 Friday night."With our team it's just a bunch of guys that raised the bar and wouldn't give in and still haven't. Now they get a chance to win to roll the dice, and there's a lot of good card players in there," said Showalter, their manager.The Orioles advanced to play the East champion Yankees, the AL's top seed -- the teams split 18 games this season. The best-of-five division series starts Sunday at Camden Yards.The upstart Orioles spent the whole second half chasing New York, never passing them and falling just short in a neck-and-neck race for the division title.Turns out, the Yankees haven't brushed off these Birds just yet."Real proud of everybody. Tacking on runs were big, knew they were going to run at you," Showalter said. "But just a real proud moment for us.""Our guys approached it and we talked about it being sudden life instead of sudden death, and we played that way. You've got to seize the opportunity. We don't get many," he said.After twice coming with a strike of winning last year's World Series, this season is over that quickly for the Rangers, who were in first place for a majors-high 178 days this season. Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth before David Murphy flied out to end it."We just didn't get it done," manager Ron Washington said.The Rangers lost the AL West crown on the final day of the regular season, after being swept in three games at Oakland for a stretch of nine losses their last 13 games."I'm not stunned, I was right there watching it," Washington said.Their worst slump of the season came at the wrong time for Texas, which a week ago had a four-game division lead with six games to play. Because of that, they couldn't avoid the majors' new winner-take-all postseason openers, and then couldn't get past their Orioles with their top pitcher on the mound."To be honest with you I never thought anything like this would happen," Washington said.Wiped out by San Francisco in the 2010 World Series, the Rangers twice came within a strike of their first World Series championship last October against St. Louis.When the Rangers committed more than 107 million last winter to acquire Darvish, they did so with the anticipation he'd be on the mound for many big games."Me and my teammates and the Rangers' fans, I don't think we all thought that it would end this early," Darvish said through a translator. "I mean, right now, no. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do tomorrow."They never would have expected him being outdueled in a playoff game by Saunders, a late-season addition by the Orioles who had lost all six of his previous starts with a 9.38 ERA at Rangers Ballpark."Our main job tonight was be as calm as we could and not try to do too much," Saunders said. "I think we did that to the best. We just clawed and scratched our way to a couple runs and played great defense."Saunders quickly gave up the Orioles' 1-0 lead in the first, but that was the only run he allowed in 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander struck out four and walked one."I love being the underdog. To knock off the defending two-time champs from the past couple of years is pretty amazing, I think," he said.Even though it was the postseason, the Orioles stuck to the regular Friday night uniforms -- including black tops and caps with script O's instead of the traditional smiling cartoon bird.Four pitches into the game, they led against Darvish, who struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings.Nate McLouth grounded Darvish's first pitch toward first baseman Michael Young. The longest-tenured Rangers player got charged with an error when he tried to backhand the ball, which ricocheted off the heel of his glove and away from him.McLouth stole second base on the third pitch. J.J. Hardy then drove him in by grounding a hard single up the middle -- the Orioles had only one more hit until a sequence in the sixth that needed some interpretation.The O's had consecutive singles to start the sixth before Jones' sacrifice fly made it 2-1.After backing up the plate when Jones hit the ball in the air, Darvish started stretching his shoulder and rolling his neck. Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux went out to the mound to try to figure out what was wrong when their pitcher still looked uncomfortable.Darvish's translator, Joe Furukawa, was also on his way out before initially being waved back by umpires. The six umpires then conferred before allowing the translator to come out while Darvish kept stretching and then threw a couple of pitches. Darvish said he had a cramp in the muscle on the top of his shoulder.Darvish finished the sixth with a strikeout, and started the seventh with another, before Ryan Flaherty's single and a sac bunt by Manny Machado. Derek Holland took over and gave up an RBI single by McLouth for a 3-1 lead.Even though he was a rookie in the majors, the 26-year-old Darvish was 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA and five complete games in 11 postseason starts for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2006-11.McLouth added a sacrifice fly in the ninth, when the Orioles scored twice against Rangers closer Joe Nathan.Jim Johnson, who set an Orioles record with 51 saves, allowed a walk and two hits, including a two-out pinch single by 19-year-old Jurickson Profar, before Murphy's game-ending flyball to left.Saunders, who was with Arizona until the end of August, benefited from three double-play grounders and some bad swings by slugger Josh Hamilton, the former AL MVP and free-agent-to-be who might have played his last home game in a Texas uniform.Hamilton was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, both on three pitches, including with a runner at second base to end the eighth. He swung at the first pitch his other at-bats -- grounding in a double play in the first that did send home Texas' only run, and hit a comebacker to start the sixth.Even if a second wild card hadn't been added this year, the Orioles and Rangers would have been playing a winner-take-all game since both had 93 wins in the regular season.Under the old playoff rules, they would have met in a 163rd regular-season game the next day to determine the only wild card, with the winner hitting the road to open the division series.With the new format, it was a postseason game after an extra day -- when Washington gave his team off after being swept in Oakland and losing the AL West crown on the regular season's final day.The new rules also eliminated the prohibition against teams from the same division meeting in the ALDS, setting up the Orioles and Yankees.For the Rangers, they're headed into their longest offseason in three years.NOTES:Orioles 1B Mark Reynolds got hit on his right hand by a pitch in the second. He then stole second, matching his stolen base total from the regular season before getting stranded there. ... The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by 86-year-old Sister Frances Evans, a longtime Rangers fan who was escorted by Nolan Ryan to a spot a few feet in front of the plate. She wound up and threw to former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg.
The Warriors made the following announcement on Kevin Durant's status:
"Kevin has made very good progress since suffering the injury four weeks ago in Washington. He has not experienced any setbacks to date and has progressed as well as could be expected.
"At this point, he is being incorporated into non-contact basketball drills -- shooting, running and jumping -- and the plan is to intensify his level of movement over the next several days, which will include more explosive cutting and lateral maneuvers.
"His eventual return to contact drills and practice will be predicated upon his progress to the increased intensity of his workouts, and a return to game action prior to the end of the regular season remains a possbility.
"He will be re-evaluated again in the next 7-10 days."
Durant sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, in addition to a tibial bone bruise.
The Warriors went 2-5 in their first seven games without Durant, but bring an eight-game winning streak into San Antonio on Wednesday night.
New One-Hour Weekday Bay Area Sports Discussion & Opinion Show
Premieres Monday, April 10 at 5:30 PM
“The Happy Hour” Available Across NBC Sports Bay Area’s Multiple Platforms
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – March 29, 2017 – NBC Sports Bay Area today announced the launch of The Happy Hour, a new, live hour-long conversational program – hosted by iconic Bay Area sports media personalities Greg Papa and Ray Ratto, along with Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Kelli Johnson – premiering Monday, April 10 at 5:30 PM. following the San Francisco Giants-Arizona Diamondbacks game and Giants Postgame Live. After the debut, The Happy Hour will regularly air weekdays from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM PT.
The Happy Hour will showcase the distinctive voices and wit of Papa, Ratto and Johnson sharing their unfiltered spirited commentary, hot takes with heavy debate, and lively conversation on the day’s trending sports headlines and other provocative stories. In addition, the show will welcome sports insiders and newsmakers from coast to coast to present an insightful and entertaining take on topics and issues meaningful to local sports fans.
The Happy Hour will be available across NBC Sports Bay Area’s multiple platforms:
- Live on NBC Sports Bay Area
- Streaming live on the NBC Sports App
- Live audio streaming via NBCSportsBayArea.com
- Archived podcasts available on NBCSportsBayArea.com
“The Happy Hour is a bold step forward in NBC Sports Bay Area’s evolution to provide Northern California sports fans with entertaining and thought-provoking content on multiple platforms,” said Tom Stathakes, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. “We’re excited to showcase the dynamic chemistry between Greg Papa, Ray Ratto and Kelli Johnson and their lively commentary, uniquely different opinions and fresh takes on the day’s trending sports news.”
“We’re thrilled to combine three of the Bay Area’s top talents on one drive-time show,” said David Koppett, Vice President of Content Strategy for NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. “Greg, Ray and Kelli will have the last word on the biggest topics in sports."
The show’s hosts will also be heavily engaged in social media with timely posts, interactive questions and behind-the-scenes content. Fans can follow along and interact with the hosts through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
(Beginning April 2)
Papa, a three-time winner of the California Sportscaster of the Year Award, is one the most accomplished and versatile announcers in sports broadcasting. He was the television play-by-play voice for the Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, and Golden State Warriors and is currently the radio play-by-play announcer for the Oakland Raiders. Papa was also on the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers broadcast teams. In addition to his duties on The Happy Hour, Papa will continue to anchor NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors Pregame Live and Warriors Postgame Live. He also hosts The Afternoon Delight with Greg Papa, a weekday radio show on 95.7 The Game.
Ratto, regarded as one of the nation’s premier multi-platform sports journalists, joined NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California (formerly CSN) in 2010 as a Senior Insider contributing to the network’s websites and signature studio shows. He has been a fixture in the Bay Area sports pages for over three decades, most notably with the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner. Ratto has also written national columns for NBCSports.com, CBSSports.com and ESPN.com and is a frequent guest on national radio and television sports programs. Ratto was also a host with Tom Tolbert on KNBR 680’s afternoon drive show.
Johnson, a two-time Emmy Award winner, joined the network in 2014 as an anchor and reporter for SportsNet Central, Pregame Live, Postgame Live and other studio shows. Previously, she was an anchor and reporter for CSN Houston covering the Astros and Rockets. Additionally, Johnson hosted the inaugural season of 3 & Out, a half-hour football analysis and debate program which airs across NBC Sports Regional Networks. Before Houston, she was CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Washington Redskins beat reporter, where she provided daily coverage of the team and contributed to the network’s Redskins pregame and postgame shows, Redskins Kickoff and Redskins Postgame Live. During her tenure at CSN Mid-Atlantic, she won two Emmy Awards in 2009, one for Best Sports Reporter and one for Sports/Regularly Scheduled Weekly Program for Redskins Kickoff. A graduate of the University of Idaho, Johnson was a four-year starter on the women's basketball team and earned All-Conference academic honors each season.
NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, both part of NBC Sports Regional Networks, serve more than four million households in Northern California, Nevada, Southern Oregon and Hawaii. NBC Sports Bay Area, the television home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants, NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and the official regional sports network of the San Francisco 49ers, also features a robust lineup of Emmy Award-winning news, analysis and original programming. NBC Sports California offers live coverage of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, NBA’s Sacramento Kings, NHL’s San Jose Sharks, MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes and is the official regional sports network of the Oakland Raiders. Collectively, these networks deliver more than 600 live game broadcasts per year.
NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 43 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: CSN New England, CSN Philadelphia, TCN, CSN Mid-Atlantic and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, CSN Chicago and CSN Northwest. For additional information, visit comcastsportsnet.com. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.
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