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    Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has won the American League MVP award, and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt took the NL prize. After hitting 62 home runs this season to break the AL record, Judge easily beat out Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani in an MVP race some thought might be close. The 6-foot-7 outfielder received 28 of 30 first-place votes and two seconds for 410 points from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel. Ohtani, last year's winner, was picked first on two ballots and second on the other 28 for 280 points. Goldschmidt took the NL trophy for the first time after a couple of close calls earlier in his career, beating out Padres third baseman Manny Machado.

      Houston’s Justin Verlander in the American League and Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in the National League are both unanimous selections for the Cy Young Award. It’s the second time the winners in both leagues were unanimous since the award began in 1956. The 39-year-old Verlander won the award for the first time, having previously won in 2011 with Detroit and 2019 with Houston. He's the 11th player to win it three times. Verlander missed almost all of the previous two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He led the AL in ERA. Alcantara led the majors in complete games with six.

      Six summers ago, I walked into a downtown Chicago hotel room to the sight of Dusty Baker ironing his pants in his boxers and a T-shirt. Baker was managing the Washington Nationals, and I had stopped by his hotel for an interview in June 2016 about his career and a budding rivalry with the Chicago Cubs. After such a painful ending in Chicago 10 years earlier, Baker really wasn’t interested in ...

      Dusty Baker has been here before. It’s hard not to think of the last time the Astros’ manager was up 3-2 in the Fall Classic as he leads the team back to Houston Saturday night for Game 6 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies needing just one win for a championship. In 2002, Baker’s San Francisco Giants entered Game 6 against the Anaheim Angels up by the same margin. The Giants squandered a five-run lead in a 6-5 loss in the sixth game before the Angels won the title with a 4-1 win in Game 7. Twenty years later in his third trip to the World Series, Baker is still looking for that elusive championship after a quarter-century as a major league manager.

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      Justin Verlander overcame an early jolt to grit out the World Series win that long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Peña hit a go-ahead home run and the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 to head home with a 3-2 lead. Buoyed by late defensive gems from Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick, the Astros moved to the brink of their second championship — the other was a scandal-tainted title in 2017. Houston went ahead just four pitches in against Noah Syndergaard on Peña’s run-scoring single. Then Philly’s Kyle Schwarber homered leading off the bottom half, harkening to the five-run lead Verlander wasted in Houston’s opening 6-5, 10-inning loss.

      The Astros and Phillies travel Friday to Texas, where Game 6 of the World Series will be played a night later. Houston is on the brink of its second title after winning 3-2 in Philadelphia on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Fall Classic. The Astros' 2017 championship was later tainted by a cheating scandal. Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick buoyed the Astros with clutch defensive plays in Game 5. Mancini preserved a slim lead in the eighth inning with what seemed like the play of the game, smothering Kyle Schwarber’s sharp grounder at first base to strand two runners. Then McCormick made the play of a lifetime, leaping into a chain-link fence in right-center to snag J.T. Realmuto’s smash in the ninth.

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