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Five Canadians head for MLB playoffs

Boston Red Sox left-fielder Jason Bay and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin headline a contingent of five Canadian players in the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Matt Stairs, plus relievers Jesse Crain of the Minnesota Twins and Blake Hawksworth of the St. Louis Cardinals round out the group.

They could be joined by catcher George Kottaras (Markham, ON) whose status on the Red Sox's post-season roster doesn't need to be confirmed until Thursday.

There are also two Canadian coaches in this year's playoffs: Rob Thomson of the New York Yankees and Dave McKay of the St. Louis Cardinals.

There were a record seven Canadian players in the 2004 post-season.

Bay and Stairs were both playoff heroes last year.

Bay, from Trail, B.C., batted .341 with three homers and nine RBIs in 11 games for the Red Sox, who lost in Game 7 of the ALCS to Tampa Bay. He was an all-star for the third time this season, hitting 36 homers with 119 RBIs.

Stairs, meanwhile, hit a memorable, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS to help propel the Phillies past the L.A. Dodgers and eventually to the World Series title. The Fredericton native had five homers and 17 RBIs off the Philadelphia bench this year.

Martin, from Chelsea, Québec, led the majors in most innings caught (1,201), total chances, most putouts, most assists by a catcher, and was second in games started (133) to Yadier Molina (136) of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Toronto-born Crain was 7-4 with a 4.70 ERA in 56 games for the Twins.

Hawksworth, a 26-year-old rookie from North Vancouver, was 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA in 30 games out of the Cardinals bullpen.

Thomson, from Sarnia, Ontario, is New York's third base coach while McKay, a Vancouver native, is third base coach for St. Louis.