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SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants will be out to avenge a series defeat on the road last week when they get a rematch with the Miami Marlins in a three-game set that begins Monday night.
The Marlins’ Caleb Smith (5-6 Adidas Brock Boeser Jersey , 3.75 ERA) and the Giants’ Andrew Suarez (2-4, 4.92), two young left-handers who dueled Wednesday in Miami, will square off again in the series opener.
Neither pitcher was part of the decision in the Marlins’ 5-4 win on Wednesday, a game in which the Giants blew 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 leads en route to a walk-off defeat.
Brian Anderson’s sacrifice fly off Giants closer Hunter Strickland ended the game, which was the Marlins’ third straight narrow victory to open the series.
The Giants salvaged a game in the finale Thursday, prevailing 6-3 in a 16-inning affair started by San Francisco’s Dereck Rodriguez and Miami’s Dan Straily, who are scheduled to hook up again Tuesday.
Smith allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in his outing against the Giants last week. It was the first time he faced San Francisco in his career, leaving him with a 0-0 record and 4.26 ERA against them.
The 26-year-old left the team for personal reasons and was placed on the bereavement list later in the week, but he is expected to be reinstated to the active roster in time for Monday’s start.
The second-year major-leaguer has struggled on the road in his career, going 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA. He has never pitched in San Francisco.
Among the eight hits he allowed Wednesday was a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen, who had quite a series against the Marlins, going 7-for-20 with two doubles, two home runs, five runs scored and five RBIs in the three games.
Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt homered for the Giants in their 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, which allowed San Francisco to complete a 4-6 trip.
The Giants have won seven of their last eight home games.
San Francisco played Sunday without third baseman Evan Longoria, who suffered a broken hand Thursday. The Giants also are expecting to be without shortstop Brandon Crawford for the series against the Marlins.
Crawford is scheduled to go on paternity leave Monday, with the birth of his fourth child considered to be imminent.
It’s possible Giants fans will get to see Pablo Sandoval at shortstop in the series. It’s a move San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy indicated could be in the cards after Sandoval was pressed into emergency duty at second base when Joe Panik was injured last month.
“That decision hasn’t been made, until we take a look at Pablo taking a few ground balls at short.” Bochy said recently with a laugh,
Suarez was in line for his third win of the season when he was pulled from last week’s game after five innings with a 3-2 lead. He allowed two runs and five hits in his five innings.
It was the rookie’s first outing against the Marlins. He’s 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA against them.
Smith had two of the Marlins’ five hits off Suarez. He’s now 3-for-20, one of just 30 pitchers to have three or more hits this season.
The Marlins opened a nine-game trip by winning two of three at Baltimore, giving them five wins in their last six games They’ll play three at Colorado later in the week.
Welcome back Adidas Daniel Sedin Jersey , Buffalo. You, too, Jacksonville and Tennessee. It’s been a while, Los Angeles.
The NFL playoffs open this weekend with a few teams – and cities – that have been merely spectators in January for years.
The Bills (9-7) are, of course, the poster boys of postseason dreaming, earning their first playoff appearance since 1999 and ending a 17-year absence that was the longest for any team in the four major North American sports leagues.
”It definitely was a goal of ours, but it doesn’t just stop here,” quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. ”We’re excited to be in this position and we have a great opportunity in front of us.”
They also have the Jaguars (10-6) standing in their way. Jacksonville is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season, and won its first division title since 1999.
The Bills also will see a familiar face Sunday leading the other sideline in coach Doug Marrone, who was Buffalo’s head coach from 2013-14.
”For me, obviously the past is past,” Marrone said. ”They have earned it as well as we have earned it. My focus obviously is going to be on our football team. It’s as easy as that for me.”
Football fans in Los Angeles haven’t been able to watch a home team in the postseason since the Raiders beat Denver on Jan. 9, 1994, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – site of Saturday night’s showdown between the Rams (11-5) and the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons (10-6).
The Rams haven’t hosted a playoff game since 1986, before 31-year-old coach Sean McVay was even born. McVay is now the youngest coach to make the postseason.
”Until you take a step back (to see) what this team has done such a nice job with, you can’t fully appreciate the journey,” McVay said. ”You try to, every now and then, enjoy it and not get so caught up in the moment that you can’t enjoy the experiences as you’re going on that journey.”
The Titans (9-7) last made the playoffs back in the 2008 season , when Jeff Fisher was coach. Nine years later, it’ll be coach Mike Mularkey and quarterback Marcus Mariota leading Tennessee into Kansas City on Saturday against Andy Reid’s playoff-tested Chiefs (10-6).
”It’s been a long time coming,” tight end Delanie Walker said. ”We thought that at the beginning: if we get in Adidas Henrik Sedin Jersey , we can go all the way. That’s our mindset and that’s how we’re going to play.”
Tennessee at Kansas City
The Titans lost three in a row before beating Jacksonville in their regular-season finale to get into the playoffs. Now, they’ll try to win their first postseason game since beating Baltimore on Jan. 3, 2004.
Tennessee allowed only 88.8 yards rushing per game, but will have a tough task against Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL with 1,327 yards on the ground.
Kansas City has won four straight after a four-game skid that put their playoff hopes in doubt. But the Chiefs haven’t won a postseason game at home since topping Pittsburgh in January 1994.
”We completed the first step and now it’s on to the second one, which is winning this game,” quarterback Alex Smith said. ”It’s tough to add any more motivation with historic streaks or things like that.”
Atlanta at Los Angeles
The Rams have been one of the NFL’s best stories all season, with McVay leading an impressive turnaround – in the standings and with quarterback Jared Goff.
The franchise’s return to Los Angeles last year was hardly a happy homecoming with a 4-12 record, but things certainly changed in a hurry. Goff went from being a somewhat disappointing No. 1 overall pick to leading the league’s No. 1 scoring offense.
Running back Todd Gurley’s re-emergence as one of the NFL’s most dynamic and dangerous players has certainly been key. He finished second in the league with 1,305 yards rushing and had an NFL-leading 13 TD runs to go along with six TD receptions.
While this is all new for the Rams, Dan Quinn’s Falcons will lean on their experience with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. trying to make a second straight run to the Super Bowl.
”We’ve been tested,” Quinn said. ”I thought we’ve come through the fires to the other side together as one brotherhood. We’re battle ready.”
Buffalo at Jacksonville
After lengthy playoff droughts, one thing is for sure: either the Bills or Jaguars will get at least as far as the second round.
This is the first time since 1999 that Jacksonville is hosting a postseason game, and fans are fired up. Tickets went quickly and the team received permission to remove tarps covering four sections of seats in the upper deck to create 3,501 additional seats at EverBank Field.
”It’s good for both organizations,” said Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who spent his first four seasons with the Bills. ”It’s good for the NFL to have two teams that haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time to have the opportunity to play.”
The Jaguars had the second-ranked overall defense in the league, with a ferocious pass rush that produced a franchise-record 55 sacks.
Taylor and the Bills might have to try to make things happen against that unit without running back LeSean McCoy, who was considered day to day after being carted off the field last Sunday against Miami with an injured right ankle.
”This team thrives off adversity,” Bills guard Richie Incognito said. ”It thrives off neg