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I am the thorn in His crown.
But Jesus loves me anyway.

I am the sweat from His brow.
But Jesus loves me anyway.

I am the nail in His wrist.
But Jesus loves me anyway.

I am Judas' kiss.
But Jesus loves me anyway.

- Unknown

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The 2017 postseason begins at Yankee Stadium this evening when the Minnesota Twins take on New York in the AL wild-card game....

     UNDATED (AP) - The 2017 postseason begins at Yankee Stadium this evening when the Minnesota Twins take on New York in the AL wild-card game. Luis Severino pitches for the Yanks - he's 23, he averaged 97.6 mph on his fastball, tops among qualified starters. Twins starter Ervin Santana is 34, and hasn't been in the playoffs since 2004.
     Minnesota left All-Star third baseman Miguel Sano off its roster for the game, after he failed to fully recover from an injured left shin. Sano missed 38 games after fouling a ball off his shin, returned as a pinch hitter Friday and was Minnesota's designated hitter Saturday and Sunday. He finished the season with a .264 average. 28 homers and 77 RBIs in 114 games.
     Robbie Grossman will be the DH in tonight's game.
     New York kept left-hander CC Sabathia and right-hander Sonny Gray among its nine relief pitchers. Minnesota's bullpen includes a pair of starters, Jose Berrios and Adalberto Mejia.
     In other MLB action:
     - The Houston Astros will start Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. Manager A.J. Hinch announced the decision today on SiriusXM radio, adding that left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who won the AL Cy Young in 2015, will start Game 2 on Friday.
     Verlander has been at his best since being acquired in a trade from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 31. He's 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts since the trade. The six-time All Star has appeared in the postseason five times. He is 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 16 career starts in the playoffs.
     Left-hander Chris Sale will be followed by Drew Pomeranz for the Red Sox in the first two games of the series against the Astros. Manager John Farrell says there are different scenarios for what's next, but none of them involve David Price as a starter.
     Farrell says he's waiting to see how the first two games in Houston go before naming his starters for Games 3 and 4. It's also possible Sale could come back on three days' rest for Game 4. Farrell says that will have to do more with how the first start goes than whether the team is facing elimination.
     - Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer - not ace Corey Kluber - will start Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Thursday. Manager Terry Francona has elected to go with Bauer so he can start Kluber in Game 2 and then again in Game 5 if necessary. Kluber went 18-4 this season and likely will win his second Cy Young Award. He went 5-0 with a 0.84 ERA in six September starts.
     Bauer, who nearly cost the Indians a shot at the World Series last year when he cut his finger while repairing a drone, shook off a slow start and went 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 31 starts. He was one of the league's most dominant pitchers in the second half of the season. His ability to recover more quickly was another factor for Francona, who will start 18-game winner Carlos Carrasco in Game 3.
     The AL champions will play the Minnesota-New York wild-card winner in the division series.

     MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx are preparing for their second WNBA Finals Game 5 in as many seasons. That only tells half of the story of how close the series has been. The two teams have played 12 games total from Game 1 of last year's finals through Game 4 on Sunday night. The cumulative score in those games is 908-908. The two best teams in the league have one more game to play on Wednesday night in Minnesota.
     Last year, the Sparks beat the Lynx in Minnesota on a last-second put-back from Nneka Ogwumike to capture the franchise's third championship. A win on Wednesday would make the Sparks the first repeat champions since 2002.


     NEW YORK (AP) - New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge had the top-selling jersey in baseball this season, followed by a pair of Chicago Cubs stars.
     Judge, an outfielder who could win AL Rookie of the Year and MVP, beat out Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, according to Major League Baseball today. Judge is the second rookie to have the most popular jersey - Bryant was the first in 2015 and also led the league in 2016.
     Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper rounded out the top five. Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout (Angels) was eighth.
     The reigning World Series champion Cubs led the majors with four players among the top 20 in sales, with Javier Baez (10th) and Kyle Schwarber (14th) joining their teammates.

     NEW YORK (AP) - Use of baseball's shortest disabled list increased by 21 percent this year, the first season of its shortened length.
     There were 626 uses of the 10-day DL this season, up from 512 placements on the 15-day DL last season, according to the commissioner's office.
     Use of the 60-day DL was just about the same at 45, up from 43 in 2016.
     Some clubs used the 10-day DL to add players around the time of the four-day All-Star break by disabling starting pitchers after their outings.
     "I think the concept of a 10-day DL was a good one," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the All-Star break. "It gave clubs additional flexibility to deal with injuries."
     "Unfortunately, and we saw some of this right around the All-Star break, any new rule, our guys figure out a way to manage to it," he added. "I don't like some of the activity that's gone on in terms of the use of the 10-day DL and we're having conversations about that internally."

     NEW YORK (AP) - The NBA is scrapping the East against West format for its All-Star Game and will have captains pick teams this season.
     The league says today that the leading vote-getter from each conference will choose teams from the pool of players who were voted as starters and reserves.
     The change will begin with this season's game in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.
     Players and league officials have been eager to inject new interest in the often defense-absent game, and NBA Players Association President Chris Paul says improving the game was a "priority."
     They chose a format that has been used by the NFL and NHL for what will be the first NBA All-Star game that doesn't pit the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference.


   (Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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