Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not on board with the narrative he did not try to sign a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

The Yankees succumbed to the Houston Astros in the MLB American League Championship Series.

When asked about reportedly "passing" on star pitchers like Gerritt Cole, Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke, Cashman replied: "I didn't pass on them.

Cashman went on to describe how the Yankees could not afford Verlander due to budgetary limits, how New York's package was not as enticing as Houston's for Cole and how the team were simply outbid for Corbin.

He also said part of the Yankees' problem this postseason was centred on the loss of Domingo German – who was suspended late in the year due to a domestic violence incident in September.

Despite an ALCS exit to the Astros, Cashman is happy with the team the Yankees have and believes they can win a championship.

"You don't get everything you want at all times," Cashman said. "But I think what we've done was do a lot of great things along the way. I can sleep at night with the process we have in place, and it's served us well and put us in position to take a legitimate shot at the championship so far in more recent years, that's despite some of the options that went elsewhere."

The Yankees are rumoured to be on the lookout for a starter in free agency amid reports New York want Cole, who is a free agent.

But Cole is rumoured to also want to play close to home on the west coast with the Los Angeles Angels being an early favourite among pundits as a landing spot for the 29-year-old.

"You put your best foot forward and you live with it," Cashman said. "I have no regrets that we have a strong process and we put our best foot forward."

 

CC Sabathia bade farewell to baseball on Monday, two days after he went off injured in the New York Yankees' postseason defeat to the Houston Astros.

Veteran pitcher Sabathia, who confirmed in February that this MLB season would be his last, had to leave the field during Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. 

The Yankees went on to lose 6-4, with the Astros claiming the series 4-2.

Sabathia took to Twitter on Monday, posting an emotional goodbye to baseball following 19 years in MLB.

"It all started in Vallejo, CA in my grandma's backyard throwing grapefruits at a folding chair," the 39-year-old wrote.

"I could have never imagined how much this game has meant to me since. Through the ups and downs, baseball has always been my home.

"From Cleveland, to Milwaukee, New York, and everywhere in between, I'm so thankful to have experienced this journey with every teammate past and present."

Sabathia went 251-161 with a 3.74 ERA and 3,093 strikeouts in 19 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and the Yankees.

Jose Altuve was crowned the American League Championship Series MVP after his walk-off homer saw the Houston Astros reach the World Series at the expense of the New York Yankees.

Altuve smashed a two-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the Astros beat the Yankees 6-4 in Game 6 on Saturday, sealing a 4-2 ALCS victory.

After setting up a showdown with the Washington Nationals in the MLB showpiece, Altuve became the first second baseman to win both the regular-season and postseason-round MVP Award.

"I wanted to just get a good pitch to hit," said Altuve, who led the Astros to their second World Series in three seasons.

"[Yankees pitcher Aroldis] Chapman, for me, is one of the best closers I've ever faced, and he throws hard. I wanted to be on time for the fastball, so I was looking for something I could handle, and it just happened.

"Running around the bases, the only thing I was thinking was, just thanking God for this opportunity to be going to the World Series once again. I thank everybody in the ballpark, because you guys are the biggest reason that we're here. And my team-mates, they're the MVPs of the game. I can't wait for the World Series."

Altuve – a six-time All-Star – was named American League MVP in 2017 as the Astros went on to win the World Series two years ago.

"We won the game not because I hit a homer," added Altuve, who is also a Gold Glove winner and five-time Silver Slugger.

"Yuli [Gurriel] hit a three-run homer. Michael Brantley made a really good play over there, [George] Springer just walked and put some pressure on them to get some momentum going. We worked as a team. We don't have just one player, as I said before, and I'm just so happy for everyone right now."

Astros manager AJ Hinch added: "The playoff version of him is spectacular. We talk about his Division Series homers and then his attention to detail in every facet of the game.

"He's turned himself into a star in his career here, and yet he's remained humble, he's remained hungry. He's driven. He's engaging with his team-mates. It's the same old quote of, 'Everything that's right about the Astros is Jose Altuve.'

"He's been here the longest and seen this organization grow from the ground up. I'm so proud of him. I'm so fortunate to be his manager."

Jose Altuve hit a walk-off home run as the Houston Astros topped the New York Yankees to reach the MLB World Series.

Altuve smashed a two-run walk-off homer to lead the Astros past the Yankees 6-4 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday.

It came off the best closer in the game and just a half-inning after the Yankees' DJ LeMahieu tied it up with a two-run homer of his own.

After sealing a 4-2 ALCS victory, the Astros will meet the Washington Nationals in the World Series.

 

Three takeaways from the Astros' ALCS-clinching win over the Yankees

Why are they pitching to Altuve?

This should go down as one of the biggest managerial blunders in baseball history.

First, the Astros gave up a 4-2 lead in the top of the ninth on a home run to LeMahieu which was bad, but then they won the game on a two-run homer in the ninth from Altuve. But here is the thing: There was no reason to pitch to Altuve. There were two outs. And yes there was a runner on first in George Springer, but the Astros had just taken Michael Brantley out of the game and replaced him with Jake Marisnick.

Marisnick was one for three in the postseason and is a defensive specialist. While putting a runner in scoring position with a walk is risky, but you would do that to face Marisnick rather than Altuve, who was the American League MVP in 2017.

Too many looks

This goes for every single reliever in the postseason: The more looks a team gets at him — no matter how dominant he is — they will get to him eventually. This was the case with Tommy Kahnle and it was also the same with Roberto Osuna.

First, with Kahnle, he had some success against Houston this season, especially in the playoffs, as he had given up no runs in four separate appearances. But, Aaron Boone insisted on using Kahnle again in Game 6 and it cost him as he gave up hits to Altuve and Brantley and a key insurance run that gave the Astros a vital 4-2 lead.

That lead was vital because after Osuna had held the Yankees scoreless in three regular-season outings and three postseason appearances, he allowed the two-run homer to LeMahieu in New York's seventh look at him this season. While a good rule of thumb is to throw your best pitchers as often as you can, it is also true that players get a comfort level with those pitchers. That is exactly what happened with Kahnle and Osuna.

Out of their comfort zone

Say what you want about Brad Peacock giving up a run in the second inning, Josh James allowing all the base runners and New York putting guys on throughout Game 6, one thing cannot be overlooked here and it is bullpen games are not what the Astros do, and yet, it gave them a chance to win Game 6.

Houston threw true bullpen games three times this season. It happened twice in July when Framber Valdez was having some issues and then again one more time in August when Gerrit Cole had to be pulled from a start before a game. Houston went 0-3 in those games and posted an ERA of 6.67 in the losses.

The Astros again were not great in Game 6. The Yankees had baserunners on seemingly the entire game and Houston never looked comfortable. But what the Astros did not do was throw the game away before it started. They competed and kept the team in the game. No one will complain about that in Houston.

The New York Yankees forced game six on Friday after defeating Houston Astros 4-1 in game five of the American League Championship Series.

A pair of early home runs and impressive starting pitching from James Paxton helped to get the job done.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning on a night where all five runs came in the team's opening frame.

The Astros will have to defend home turf in an attempt to avoid game seven, with one win sending them to the World Series. New York must win the last two games to earn a berth in the Fall Classic.

 

New York found quality pitching when it mattered most

The Yankees have made it a point to utilise a host of pitchers in the ALCS, but they got a great performance from starter James Paxton and a trio of relievers in a critical game that could've ended their season. Paxton gave up four hits and one earned run in six innings of work, notching nine strikeouts. Then Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to give up one hit for the remainder of the contest once Paxton was taken out.

The Astros' five hits in the contest were their second-lowest total in the series after being held to just three in their game one loss.


The stage wasn't too big for Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks was an unlikely hero for the Yankees on Friday. Although the outfielder was initially ruled out for the season in August after suffering a flexor strain in his elbow, he returned from a two-month hiatus to face Houston and help his team with its World Series push. He blasted a three-run homer off the foul pole in the first inning and that made all the difference.

New York scored all four of its runs in the first inning before going on a scoring drought, but it didn't matter as the Astros experienced a drought of their own. Now the Yankees will likely benefit from a bullpen game on Saturday, and there will be ample opportunity for other players to unexpectedly tee off without facing the best of Houston's starters.


Justin Verlander continues to be plagued by home runs

Justin Verlander gave up a career-high 36 home runs in 2019 and that trend has followed him into the post-season. Even though Hicks' home run nearly hooked right of the foul pole, DJ LeMahieu also hit a solo homer and those were the decisive moments in the game. Verlander has given up 10 runs and five home runs in his last three appearances.

Verlander rebounded tremendously from his poor start in his seven-inning outing, tallying nine strikeouts, but the offense couldn't get flowing and now Houston faces a difficult situation. The Astros' trio of starters has been heralded as the best in MLB, but Gerrit Cole won't be ready to go on short rest in game six.

New York has coasted on power hitting all season long and now they can take advantage of not having to face elite starters as they look to force game seven.

CC Sabathia has made his final appearance for the New York Yankees after the team confirmed they had removed the veteran pitcher from their roster.

Sabathia, who confirmed in February the 2019 MLB season would be his last, exited the Yankees' defeat to the Houston Astros on Thursday with a shoulder injury.

The 39-year-old pitcher has now been removed from the Yankee's roster for the remainder of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), having suffered a subluxation of his left shoulder joint.

Sabathia will be replaced by pitcher Ben Heller and is ineligible to return this postseason.

The home crowd gave Sabathia a standing ovation in what has now become his final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Over his 19-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and Yankees, Sabathia posted a 251-161 regular-season and a 3.74 ERA.

Earlier this season, he became just the third left-handed pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts in their career.

Sabathia was a six-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in 2007 with Cleveland. He was named ALCS MVP in 2009 on the way to a World Series title with the Yankees.

The Houston Astros are on the verge of the MLB World Series after taking a 3-1 lead over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Houston moved on the brink of a showdown with the Washington Nationals thanks to Thursday's 8-3 victory against the Yankees in Game 4.

Justin Verlander will attempt to close out the ALCS in Game 5 on Friday, while the Yankees will counter with James Paxton as New York look to stay alive.

 

Three takeaways from the Astros' ALCS Game 4 win over the Yankees

Yankees oddly lucky

While this was the most runs the Yankees have allowed in a game this postseason, New York were lucky they did not give up more. And yes, it sounds odd, but when you find out the Astros had 13 balls hit 95.0 mph or higher through seven innings and only six of them were hits, that is pretty darn lucky.

In fact, every single one of Houston's batters had a ball hit at 95.0 mph or better. The Astros may not have scored that many runs in the game, but it does look like they are starting to get their timing down after struggling to do so for much of the playoffs.

Learn Harris' name

Leading up to the postseason, seemingly every pundit who talks about baseball wanted to point out the Astros' vulnerability in the bullpen. They mentioned Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly and Josh James, saying that was all Houston had.

No one ever seemed to mention Will Harris. And odds are, if you talk to an everyday fan, they will not know who he is either. Well, if those everyday fans were Yankees apologists, they know who he is now.

Harris tossed yet another scoreless inning in Game 4 and now has thrown 4.3 innings in the postseason while striking out seven and giving up zero runs. This comes after a year in which Harris posted a 1.50 ERA in 68 games. And these were short appearances either. He threw 60 innings. Learn this man's name. He is an impact reliever even if no one will talk about him.

Yankee defense comes back to bite them

The Yankees are not necessarily known for being a fantastic defensive team but they have good players on that side. DJ LeMahieu has won a Gold Glove, Aaron Judge might win one this season and Didi Gregorius is a solid defensive player as well, just like Aaron Hicks.

But New York have some guys playing out of position to get men in the line-up as Gleyber Torres is playing second when he is probably more of a shortstop or third baseman. LeMahieu is playing first when he is a Gold Glover at second and Brett Gardner is playing left while a healthy Giancarlo Stanton probably takes that spot.

And it did not work out in Game 4. The Yankees made four errors, one of which was a big part of Carlos Correa's three-run homer in the sixth inning. Alex Bregman reached base on an error and eventually came around to score a few batters later.

Also, just a bit of an oddity here too, the Yankees have only ever made three errors at home in a postseason game three times, all three have come on Oct. 17 (2009, 2017).

Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed until Thursday, MLB has announced.

At the time of the decision shortly before midday (local time) on Wednesday, the weather forecast called for 100 per cent chance of rain in New York.

New York Harbor is under a gale warning and nearby areas are under a flash flood watch and a coastal flood advisory.

The change means Game 5 is pushed back to Friday, previously a scheduled off-day.

If required, the series will return to Houston for Games 6 and 7 on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the series with Tuesday's 4-1 victory in New York, with the winner to face the Washington Nationals, who have closed out a sweep of the St Louis Cardinals.

The World Series is set to begin next Tuesday in either Houston or New York.

Gerrit Cole threw seven shut-out innings as the Houston Astros took a 2-1 American League Championship Series lead over the New York Yankees with a 4-1 win.

The Yankees missed multiple opportunities as the Astros jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 3 on Tuesday, but Cole capitalised when required as he struck out seven on 112 pitches, allowing four hits and five walks.

Houston added two runs at the top of the seventh to seal it, with the Yankees' only response coming in the bottom of the eighth inning when Gleyber Torres scored on a solo shot at Yankee Stadium.

Neither side won on the road when these teams met in the 2017 ALCS, but there have already been two away wins in this series.

 

Three takeaways from the Astros' Game 3 ALCS win over the Yankees

Gary Sanchez's biggest problem resurfaces

Gary Sanchez had a tough time on Tuesday as passed ball issues of 2017 and 2018 resurfaced. With the bases loaded and the Yankees down 2-0 in the top of the seventh, Sanchez did not get in front of a Zack Britton sinker and it looked destined for the backstop and a run for the Astros. The ball hit umpire Kerwin Danley, stopped and looked like it was going to be OK. But Britton threw the exact same pitch on his next delivery and Sanchez was not as lucky. Jose Altuve scored and made the game 3-0.

Juiced ball no more

There are rumours that MLB changed the ball this offseason and we think Didi Gregorius would agree. And so would Martin Maldonado as he hit a ball that likely would have been a home run just one half-inning later. 

Watch either of these fly balls and it is hard to think they do not go out during the regular season. The post-season has changed because of it.

Weather on the 1's

The weather could prove to be a factor for the remainder of this series.

There is currently a 100 percent chance of rain for Wednesday's Game 4 at Yankee Stadium. The Astros have a bullpen day scheduled for this game, but if rain does delay it then they may go with Zack Greinke midweek.

That would move up Justin Verlander to pitch in Game 5 and Gerrit Cole again in Game 6. The Yankees are probably praying for this game not to be rained out because facing a rookie in Jose Urquidy in this one has to feel good for New York.

As of Tuesday night, MLB has yet to announce any changes to this game's schedule.

Carlos Correa's walk-off homer in the 11th inning led the Houston Astros past the New York Yankees 3-2 in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

Correa broke a tie with the Yankees in extra innings as the Astros levelled the ALCS on Sunday.

 

Here are three takeaways from the Astros' win over the Yankees

Astros found their bats

New York outhit Houston 13-3 in Game 1, but the Astros did a much better job making contact on Sunday. Houston notched seven hits against the Yankees this time. After being held scoreless on Friday, Houston scored two runs, via a George Springer home run and a Carlos Correa RBI through the first nine innings.

But the Astros' biggest hit of the contest came in the 11th inning as Correa drove in the game-winning run with a walk-off solo shot.

Houston only tallied one more hit than the Yankees, but that is a big turnaround from the 10-hit deficit they faced in Game 1.

Verlander bounced back in a big way

Justin Verlander got drilled by the Tampa Bay Rays on three days' rest in the American League Division Series last week. After urging the team to let him start against Tampa Bay, he forked up four runs in 3.6 innings in his team's loss, allowing the Rays to tie the series at 2-2. But he brought much better stuff in Game 2 against the Yankees.

Verlander gave up five hits and two runs in 6.6 innings but had better movement on his pitches, notching seven strikeouts. Only New York's Aaron Judge was able to take him deep with a two-run shot in the fourth inning. The ace's momentum should help his confidence as the postseason progresses. 

Houston could've done a lot more damage

The Astros scored the third-most runs (920) in MLB this season and it is only a matter of time before they capitalise more on their scoring opportunities.

Houston was among the MLB leaders in runners left on base per game in 2019, averaging 7.15 per contest. But they more than tripled that on Sunday, as the Astros left 22 runners on base against New York.

The Astros have consistently struggled to live up to their potential offensively in the postseason, and they cannot afford to continue doing that at this point.

Giancarlo Stanton is considered day-to-day with a strained right quad, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced.

Cameron Maybin will replace Stanton in the starting line-up for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Stanton suffered the injury as the Yankees won the ALCS opener 7-0 on Saturday.

"He kind of injured his quad last night … he didn't feel like he was good to start," Boone said. "We hope it's something that with today and the off day, he would be back to play for Game 3."

Stanton, who played only 18 games this MLB season because of injuries, suffered the strain running to first base on his first hit against the Astros.

He later homered off Astros starter Zack Greinke in the Yankees' dominant win over the Astros.

Boone said Stanton would be available as a pinch hitter or in an emergency situation for Game 2.

If the Yankees opt to replace Stanton on their ALCS roster, he would be ineligible for the World Series should the team advance.

The New York Yankees drew first blood after shutting out the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Masahiro Tanaka dealt, Gleyber Torres dominated and Houston made mistakes in the ALCS opener on Saturday.

Now the Astros turn to Justin Verlander for Game 2 with hopes of stopping the bleeding in the MLB playoffs.

The Yankees counter with James Paxton.

 

Three takeaways from the Yankees' ALCS Game 1 win over the Astros

Inexcusable

Every single out in this series could matter. It may very well be a sweep by the Yankees, but if it goes how everyone thinks it will, this could be a very long and drawn out series. Taking that into account, Alex Bregman cannot make the mistake he made in the fifth inning of Game 1.

And let's make this clear, yes, Aaron Judge produced a great play reeling in a line-drive shot off the bat of Yordan Alvarez, but Bregman was absolutely in the wrong here. On the play in question with Houston down 1-0, Alvarez hit a line drive to right with Bregman on first base. It might have looked like a hit, but it was not a sure thing. Bregman took his lead off first and did not go halfway. He looked like he was trying to get a head start on getting to third, but Judge caught the ball.

Yes, Bregman slipped on his way getting back but he was way too far off the base in the first place. Judge then caught Bregman with relative ease to double him up at first and the Astros' chance was over.

Bregman is an MVP candidate, but that was not an MVP play. And the Yankees did win this game by seven runs, but in a one-run game, that mistake is inexcusable.

Did you hear? Gleyber Torres is 22

We poke a little bit of fun here because it would seem that every single Twitter account has 22 written in massive numbers next to Gleyber Torres' name and it is required to mention it every time he breathes. But what he has done this postseason is incredibly impressive regardless of his age.

Torres drove in five runs in Game 1 and now has nine runs batted in in during the 2019 playoffs. It cannot be ignored how good he has been this postseason and he only has a little way to go before he catches up with Juan Soto who is 20. Get that? He is 20.

Again, we joke. Torres has been awesome and he deserves a ton of credit for the Yankees' success.

We told you this could happen

When Masahiro Tanaka was announced as the Game 1 starter for the Yankees some people were surprised. We were not. Tanaka has been lights out in his postseason career and he has been doubly as good against the Astros.

Coming into Game 1, Tanaka had a 2.00 ERA (four runs in 18 innings) in three career playoff starts against the Astros. He had given up just two runs over his previous 13 innings against them. The Astros struggle against him and it is not surprising at all that he gave up just one hit and no runs in six innings of work in Game 1.

The Astros tend to struggle against men who really know how to pitch. That is why they struggled with Charlie Morton this year and David Price last year, but they got to guys like Tyler Glasnow and Chris Sale. If a pitcher knows how to work the corners and keep guys off balance the Astros can struggle. That is exactly why they had issues with Tanaka and likely will again in a potential Game 5.

The New York Yankees are going with Masahiro Tanaka in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, manager Aaron Boone told reporters on Friday.

Tanaka gets the nod for Saturday's MLB ALCS opener over Cy Young contender Luis Severino and James Paxton, who the Yankees picked up for the postseason.

But Tanaka's call looks appropriate as he has a career 1.54 ERA in six career postseason starts.

Two of those starts came against the Astros in the 2017 ALCS. In that series, Tanaka allowed two runs in 13 innings pitched.

However, the decision not to start Paxton or Severino could be a costly one. Both have great success against the Astros as well along with better fastballs which have given Houston trouble this year.

Severino, however, is just 1-1 against the Astros in the playoffs, allowing four runs in 8.6 innings of work in the ALCS in 2017 and Paxton is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA against Houston in 2019.

Paxton has a lot of past success against the Astros, including a 2018 with the Seattle Mariners in which he went 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA, but that apparently is not enough to earn the series-opening start against the American League West champions.

The Astros will counter with Zack Greinke in Game 1 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The final two matchups of the first three games will be Justin Verlander against James Paxton and Gerrit Cole versus Luis Severino.

 

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann said he is retiring following the team's loss to the St Louis Cardinals in the Nationals League Division Series.

McCann made the announcement after Wednesday's 13-1 Game 5 rout in the NLDS and 15 MLB seasons.

The 35-year-old – a World Series champion with the Houston Astros in 2017 – return to the Braves this season.

"It's time to go," McCann told reporters post-game. "I had a long career. Fifteen years is a long time catching every day. And I got to do it my hometown."

The Georgia native made his major-league debut with the Braves back in 2005. He would spend nine years in Atlanta before signing a five-year, $85million contract with the New York Yankees prior to the 2014 season.

A seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger, McCann was then traded to the Astros after the 2016 season.

McCann returned to Atlanta on a one-year, $2m deal ahead of the 2019 campaign.

"That was a big reason I wanted to come back," McCann said. "I wanted to be a part of this again, put this uniform back on and play in front of my family every night."

McCann sported a .262/.337/.452 career line while hitting 282 homers and driving in 1,018 runs. He also posted a career 31.8 bWAR.

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