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Report: Angels are Joe Maddon’s top choice

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If it’s up to Joe Maddon, his next job will be managing the Los Angeles Angels. That’s the story from Ken Rosenthal, who says that Maddon will interview with the Angels early this week.

Maddon spent 31 years with the Angels as a minor leaguer, a scout, a coach, a minor league manager and a big league coach and occasional interim manager. While the Angels’ opening is not necessarily the best one currently available — there are other teams closer to contention or with what seems to be a better crop of talent on the rise — it’s also the case that employees and employers often choose each other for personal reasons in additional to professional ones.

It’s been reported that Angels owner loves Maddon, and it’s widely believed that the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after only one year at the helm specifically because Maddon became available when the Cubs declined to extend his contract. It’s likewise not hard to imagine Maddon desiring, on some level, to return to the organization which gave him the resume which allowed him to ascend into management in his own right. Obviously both sides will, if Maddon is hired, tout this as the best possible way for the Angels to win a World Series, but there are probably a lot of things going on here. There always are when people are involved.

Whatever you make of that, it sounds like a good fit at least. Whether it’s a successful fit, of course, depends on whether the Angels can get any kind of pitching going forward and whether they can surround Mike Trout with more talent overall. Maddon won a World Series trophy, but it took some good players in Chicago to help him do it. It always takes good players. At the moment, the Angels don’t have enough of them.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.