San Francisco Giants' manager Bochy, New York Yankees' Granderson and Cano attend a news conference in Taipei

MLB “stars” sweep five-game series against Chinese Taipei

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We did it! … Or something.

According to Doug Miller of MLB.com, a group of Major League Baseball players (some stars, others not) captured a 6-4 victory Sunday at Cheng-Ching Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, finishing up a five-game sweep of a Chinese Taipei team led by Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.

Yankees Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano were the main attraction, and were even invited to pose in the Chinese Taipei team picture taken right after the conclusion of the five-game set.

Three of the five contests were decided by fewer than three runs and MLB team manager Bruce Bochy noticed daily improvement from the opposition.

“It could have gone either way,” said Bochy. “Sure, we won five games, but you could see their confidence growing and they were playing right there with us. It’s good for baseball and for Taiwan. A lot of these are young players playing against the best players in the world, and they were fighting hard. It was a great experience for all of us. We’ve had a great time.”

MLB.com produced some excellent videos throughout the visit, including this one of a player-run clinic.

The roster for the Taiwan series, excluding Cano and Granderson, consisted of Pablo Sandoval (Giants), Logan Morrison (Marlins), Drew Butera (Twins), Jeff Mathis (Angels), Erick Aybar (Angels), Michael Morse (Nationals), Ryan Roberts (Diamondbacks), Danny Valencia (Twins), Emilio Bonifacio (Marlins), Bill Bray (Reds), Ross Detwiler (Nationals), Dillon Gee (Mets), Collin Balester (Nationals), Jeremy Guthrie (Orioles), Mark Melancon (Astros) and Jose Veras (Pirates).

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.

Video: John Axford discusses 2017 Oscar picks

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 08:  John Axford #61 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch during the seventh inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 8, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Sure, it may feel gimmicky to go around asking players to make predictions for the Academy Awards, but when it comes to the Athletics’ John Axford, he knows what he’s talking about. The right-hander has a proven track record of making near-perfect ballot predictions, getting 14 of 15 winners correct in 2013, 18 of 18 in 2014, 17 of 24 in 2015 and 17 of 24 again in 2016.

With a range of award-worthy films to choose from this year, Axford selected the crowd-pleasing (and record-breaking seven Golden Globe winner) La La Land for Best Picture, Manchester By the Sea‘s Casey Affleck for Best Actor and “the sweetheart of Hollywood,” Emma Stone, for Best Actress.

His full ballot was released to Twitter on Saturday, locking in La La Land for eight total Oscars. Going a perfect 24-for-24 might be a near-impossible feat, but if anyone can pull it off, Axford’s the one to do it.