0 Comments Share your thoughts HOUSTON — World Series nerves? Justin Verlander is ready for it, and his Astros manager A.J. Hinch says bring it on.The American League champions may be accustomed to a wealth of big games over the past three seasons, that have included ALCS championship appearances in each of them, and this a second trip to the Series.But that doesn’t mean the Fall Classic doesn’t bring its own dose of anxiety. The key is channelling it in a positive direction, apparently.“You know that the nerves are going to be higher and your body knows it’s not a regular start,” said Verlander, who will get the start for the Astros in Game 2 on Wednesday. “Going to sleep tonight is not going to be the same as normal. But having done it before — I don’t know if it helps — but I know what to expect going into it.”Baseball being a game of routine, Verlander said he will do his best to keep his game prep work as normal as possible despite the presence of family and friends and the overall hoopla the World Series begins.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Hinch noticed a difference in the clubhouse when he wandered in hours before Tuesday’s series opener. And he liked what he saw and felt from his team.“I want the nerves,” Hinch said. “I want our guys to be a little bit on edge. We’re playing in the World Series. It should feel like a big deal. It should feel like something extra special and once the game settles in, I want our guys to be themselves.“But I kind of dig seeing a bunch of guys that are successful, they’re big, big personalities, we’ve all got egos, we’re in the big leagues. Be nervous, man. Enjoy it. Enjoy the uniqueness of being in the World Series. It doesn’t come around often enough.”Meanwhile, the Nationals’ Game 2 starter, Stephen Strasburg, said he’ll just roll with the emotions as best he can in his World Series debut.“There are going to be butterflies, but it just shows that you care,” Strasburg said. “Everybody in this clubhouse cares, we care about each other.“I know what I expect of myself. I’m going to hold true to that. That’s all I can really control.”YULI UNIQUEThe more he has been around Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, the more Hinch has been able to appreciate the veteran Cuban star.In particular, Hinch loves Gurriel for his ability to hit all type of pitching.As if on cue, hours after his manager pumped his tires, Gurriel rocked a double off the wall to drive in a pair of runs for the first scoring play of the 2019 World Series.“He’s one of the most dangerous hitters on our team and that’s among a lot of dangerous hitters,” Hinch said. “Yuli puts the ball in play and he can hit virtually every pitch, indicated by his homer the other day (a three-run shot in the first inning of Game 6 of the ALCS) was a neck-high fastball that few guys can keep fair.“His presence in our lineup is huge. If you ask around the league, a lot of managers, a lot of pitchers, a lot of players will talk about the fear they have when he comes to bat because he can cover every pitch depending on what his plan is.“And that will be critical this series when you’re facing such top-end pitching.”DREAM MATCHUPNationals manager Dave Martinez wasn’t going to have the luxury of enjoying Game 1 as a fan, but he expects most who love the game will.With Gerrit Cole of the Astros facing Max Scherzer of the Nationals for the curtain-raiser of the 115th edition of baseball’s championship, it was difficult not to appreciate the arms showdown.“I wake up this morning and I say, ‘You’ve got (Max) Scherzer against (Gerrit) Cole. Wow.’ If you’re not a baseball fan right now, man … this is exciting times.”While appreciative of the Astros — who owned home-field advantage on the basis of their MLB-best 107-win regular season — Martinez wasn’t about to undersell his team’s outlook.“I really like our guys,” Martinez said. “I like our guys. They came out here loose (on Monday’s workout day) and were having fun. It’s pretty cool just kind of watching them relax and go out there and do their thing.”AROUND THE BASES— The winner of Game 1 of the World Series has won 25 of the previous 33 editions, including the Red Sox in 2018.One of the exceptions? That would be your 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, who overcame the Atlanta Braves’ home-field edge.— Hinch said he plans to go with a “bullpen day” for Game 4 of the series back in Washington, a plan that is subject to change pending the results of the first three games.— The Astros and Nationals combine to have 20 non-U.S. born players — six from Venezuela, four each from Cuba and the Dominican, three from Mexico, and one from Brazil.— Martinez on whether he used the downtime from his team sweeping the Cardinals to watch the ALCS between the Astros and Yankees: “I watched most. Some of those games went on pretty late. Couldn’t keep my eyes open, I’m not going to lie to you.” Houston Astros Justin Verlander Major League Baseball Washington Nationals World Series
England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed Harry Kane will start against Kosovo on Tuesday, but is adamant his skipper is not “undroppable”.Tottenham striker Kane scored a hat-trick as the Three Lions eased to a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Bulgaria on Saturday.It comes after he had to settle for a place on the bench in the Nations League semi-final against Netherlands after missing much of the latter stages of last season through injury. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Southgate plans to make changes for the game at St Mary’s but says Kane’s quality makes it difficult for him to be left out, and he will resist the temptation to rest him for what will be the first ever meeting between the two nations at senior level.”In the summer we decided that he wasn’t ready to start, so I don’t think you can have a player that is undroppable, because that is a dangerous route for any team and it is not a healthy position for a player,” Southgate said. “But it is safe to say we won’t be dropping him for tomorrow. His level of performance is so high that dropping him would be a rare occurrence. “We might freshen the team a bit, that will be important. We don’t need to, everyone is fit and available. We need to make sure we get the balance right.”We need to get the right attacking and defending profiles to make sure we win the game.”Southgate is wary of the threat posed by a second-placed Kosovo side, who have already defeated Czech Republic in Group A.”We are expecting a different sort of challenge to Saturday – but one we are looking forward to,” he said. “It will be a very different style of game. Kosovo will be very high pressing, hard working, a more attacking threat than we faced on Saturday.”Maybe there will be more space to play up front. Whatever we learned from Saturday’s game this is a completely different challenge.”Southgate, meanwhile, gave praise to midfielder Declan Rice for the way he has dealt with social media abuse directed towards him and his family after switching international allegiance to England from the Republic of Ireland. “When I spoke with Declan about the possibility of him transferring association across, I was very conscious that this was something that could happen,” Southgate said. “That is why I wanted to tread very carefully, to make sure him and his family had all the time they needed to make a decision.”I never pushed, because I suspected that this would be part of the consequences of that.”I think he has dealt with everything incredibly maturely.”
MONTREAL — Ontario’s transit agency has decided not to appeal a court ruling favouring Bombardier but will exclude the Montreal-based company from bidding to continue operating GO Transit trains as it has done for decades.Metrolinx said Friday that it will seek new operators to take over the suburban GO Transit and UP Express airport rail services after the current contract expires in 2023.The winning bidder to be chosen in about a year will first review the current operations by Bombardier and two other Canadian companies and then operate the services as it quadruples in size to 6,000 trains a week from 1,500.“We really need to bring in an internationally experienced operator (or consortium) to help us do this,” Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said in an interview.She said the existing operators wouldn’t be able to objectively review the current service and therefore won’t be eligible to bid.However, Aikins said the winning bidder wouldn’t be precluded from using the services of Bombardier and the other two companies to operate and maintain the trains.She said the contract with Bombardier is worth about $100 million a year.Eric Prud’homme, spokesman for Bombardier, said the company is “surprised” it won’t be allowed to bid and is studying the document from Metrolinx.Aikins denied that the decision to exclude Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) from bidding relates to the acrimonious relationship caused by repeated delays in providing a light rail transit prototype vehicle for the scheduled 2021 opening of the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown line in Toronto.“Absolutely not at all,” she said.“They are very separate divisions of Bombardier and we’ve had a successful relationship for over 40 years.”Aikins said Metrolinx also decided to no longer appeal an April Ontario Court ruling that prevented it from cancelling the $770-million contract for 182 light rail cars without first going through dispute resolution. The deadline for launching the appeal was Friday.“We have decided to move on and concentrate on the dispute resolution,” she said.Prud’homme said Bombardier was pleased by the decision not to appeal.“We salute the decision and we are dedicated to finding a solution,” he said.Ontario has reached a $528-million agreement to buy 61 light rail vehicles from French manufacturer Alstom in case Bombardier is found to be in default at the end of the dispute resolution process.