Los Angeles Dodgers

Judge, Bellinger unanimous picks as Rookies of the Year

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Judge, Bellinger unanimous picks as Rookies of the Year

The only major question was whether it would be unanimous - and it was.

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are baseball's Rookies of the Year, after their record-setting home run binges left no need for any dissenting opinions. Judge led the American League with 52 homers, the most ever by a rookie. Bellinger hit 39 and had to settle for the National League's rookie record.

Judge and Bellinger received every first-place vote available from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Judge became the first New York Yankees player to receive this award since Derek Jeter in 1996. Bellinger gave the Dodgers a record 18th Rookie of the Year winner.

"Watching him from the West Coast, what he did on the East Coast, was awesome," Bellinger said. "I was a big fan of his, and met him during the All-Star game, and he's a humble dude. I think we're both reflecting, now that the season's over, on the kind of seasons that we've had."

This was the first time both Rookie of the Year awards were unanimous since 1997, when Nomar Garciaparra of Boston and Scott Rolen of Philadelphia won.

This season's votes were announced Monday night. Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi finished second in the AL, followed by Baltimore slugger Trey Mancini. St. Louis infielder Paul DeJong was the NL runner-up, with Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell finishing third.

Judge is also an MVP finalist.

"Obviously it was an amazing, remarkable year that no one would have predicted," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "When you drop 52 - I think he really should have had 53, one that instant replay didn't protect. ... It should be a higher number. It was just an incredible year."

Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and Fred Lynn in 1975 are the only players to win the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year.

The Yankees entered this season with marginal expectations by their standards, but the prodigious power of Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez transformed them almost overnight into an exciting young team with tremendous potential. They made the postseason as a wild card.

"It's exciting times right now to be wearing pinstripes," Judge said. "To come up through the minor leagues with a lot of these guys, watch them develop, and now to see what they're doing at the major league level is really impressive."

Judge's 495-foot shot on June 11 was the longest home run in the major leagues this season, according to Statcast . Although he struck out 208 times in the regular season and 27 more in the postseason, the 25-year-old outfielder is one of a handful of reasons why the Yankees suddenly seem to have one of the brightest futures of any team in baseball.

New York came within a victory of the World Series this year, losing to Houston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. Bellinger's team made it to that final step, but Los Angeles fell to the Astros in a seven-game World Series.

Bellinger is the second straight Dodgers player to win Rookie of the Year. Shortstop Corey Seager did it last year.

"The future is bright in L.A.," Bellinger said. "I know that I'm excited, as well as the other teammates. Obviously, we didn't have the end goal this year, but we're going to try and take it to the next level next year."

Bellinger made his big league debut in late April. By the time he turned 22 on July 13, he had 25 home runs. The 6-foot-4 first baseman is an appropriate counterpart to the powerful Judge. They even hit from opposite sides of the plate: Judge is a righty and Bellinger swings left-handed.

"He's not just a guy that went up there and hit home runs," Judge said. "He was a guy that played high-caliber first base for them. He could go out there and roam center field, left field, right field, wherever they needed him. To have that type of versatility and produce the numbers he did is something that you don't find too often."

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Astros cop first World Series title in franchise history with 5-1 win in Game 7

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Astros cop first World Series title in franchise history with 5-1 win in Game 7

LOS ANGELES - From laughingstock to lift off.

George Springer and the Houston Astros rocketed to the top of the baseball galaxy Wednesday night, winning the first World Series championship in franchise history by romping past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7.

Playing for a city still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and wearing an H Strong logo on their jerseys, the Astros brought home the prize that had eluded them since they started out in 1962 as the Colt .45s.

"I always believed that we could make it," All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve said. "We did this for them."

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa proposes to girlfriend on live TV after victory

For a Series that was shaping up as an October classic, Game 7 quickly became a November clunker as Houston scored five runs in the first two innings off an ineffective Yu Darvish. Hardly the excitement fans felt during the Cubs' 10-inning thriller in Cleveland last fall.

Well, except for everyone wearing bright orange.

"We're coming home a champion, Houston," Springer said after accepting the World Series MVP trophy named this year after Willie Mays for the first time.

Altuve, one of four carry-overs from a club that lost an embarrassing 111 times in 2013 after switching from the NL to the AL, and this collection of young stars silenced Dodger Stadium from the get-go.

Normally a starter, Charlie Morton finished up with four stellar innings of relief for the win.

"We held down a really tough lineup," Morton said. "For my teammates, for the city of Houston, it's just unbelievable."

Springer led off the evening with a double against Darvish, and soon it was 2-0.

Springer hit his fifth homer - tying the Series mark set by Reggie Jackson and matched by Chase Utley - when he connected for a record fourth game in a row, making it 5-0 in the second.

That was plenty for Houston manager A.J. Hinch. He pulled starter Lance McCullers Jr. soon after the curveballer crazily plunked his fourth batter of the game, and began a bullpen parade of four relievers that kept the lead as the Astros overcame a shaky postseason bullpen .

"I knew yesterday I didn't have much," McCullers said. "I knew I didn't have much to give other than to gut it out as long as I could."

Forever known for their space-age Astrodome, outlandish rainbow jerseys and a handful of heartbreaking playoff losses, these Astros will be remembered as champions, finally, in their 56th season.

The club that wears a star on its hat also filled out the Texas trophy case. Teams from the Lone Star State had won most every major crown - Super Bowl, NBA and NHL titles, championships in college football, and men's and women's hoops - except the World Series.

Built on the skills of homegrown All-Stars Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and more, and boosted by the slick trade for Justin Verlander, general manager Jeff Luhnow completed the ascent that some predicted.

Famously, now, there was the Sports Illustrated cover in 2014 - after Houston had lost more than 100 games for three straight years - that proclaimed: "Your 2017 World Series Champs" and featured a picture of Springer in a bright Astros jersey.

Houston won 101 times this year to take the AL West, then won Games 6 and 7 at home in the AL Championship Series. The Astros joined the 1985 Royals as the only clubs to win a pair of Game 7s in the same year.

For the Dodgers, the quest to win a Series for the first time since 1988 fell short. They led the majors with 104 wins and a $240 million payroll, yet it didn't pay off for part-owner Magic Johnson or manager Dave Roberts.

Longtime ace Clayton Kershaw provided four shutout innings of relief for Los Angeles, but it was too late. What the Dodgers really needed was a better starter than Darvish, someone more like the lefty who tossed out a ceremonial first ball: the great Sandy Koufax.

After Springer lined a leadoff double, Alex Bregman hit a bouncer that first baseman Cody Bellinger threw past Darvish for an error, allowing a run to score. Bregman aggressively stole third and scored on Altuve's grounder, and it was 2-0 after eight pitches.

A double by Marwin Gonzalez helped set up perhaps McCullers' biggest contribution, a slow grounder for his first pro RBI. Springer followed with a no-doubt, two-run drive into the left-center field bleachers.

That was the Series-most 25th homer in a Major League Baseball season that set a record for home runs. It was easily enough for the Astros to offset pinch-hitter Andre Ethier's RBI single in the Los Angeles sixth.

Only once have the Dodgers clinched a crown at home, that coming in 1963 when Koufax outpitched Yankees star Whitey Ford to finish a sweep. They've never won Game 7 of the Fall Classic at their own park, dating more than a century ago to their days on the streets of Brooklyn as the Trolley Dodgers.

As pockets of Houston fans got louder and louder in the later innings, the crowd at Dodger Stadium was left to repeat the sad, but hopeful cry that used to echo in Brooklyn: Wait till next year.

Just 106 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

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Red Sox checked in on Dodgers Game 7 starter Darvish at deadline

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Red Sox checked in on Dodgers Game 7 starter Darvish at deadline

BOSTON — Dodgers' World Series Game 7 starter Yu Darvish was one of the pitchers the Red Sox asked about at the trade deadline as they tried to improve for the stretch run. 

The offense was the clearest area of need for the Sox by midseason. But, adding Darvish to improve a strength — and serve as insurance for David Price, who was injured as the deadline arrived — was another route they could have taken.

Sources said the Red Sox-Rangers discussion was not particularly in depth because of the Rangers’ price, and ultimately, because of what the Sox could even offer. The Sox didn’t want to move anyone off their major league team, and the Rangers weren’t enamored with the Sox’ prospects offerings.

Darvish, a free agent this winter, was sent from the Rangers to the Dodgers for three prospects: infielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy and infielder Brendon Davis. Boston acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez and reliever Addison Reed before August arrived instead.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said three days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline that he was “not going to go out and make a big trade for a starting pitcher." He noted Doug Fister's arrival as well as the expectation that Price would return.

After the deadline passed, Dombrowski said: “You dip your toes in everything. But we never got close or had any serious conversations about starting pitching.”