The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees seem to meet every decade or so in the playoffs. They resume this tradition on Thursday night with Game 1 of the American League Division Series in Cleveland (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
These two teams met in the Division Series in 1997, won by the Indians in five games. The Yankees returned the favor in 1998, beating the Indians in the ALCS in six games. Then in 2007, Cleveland prevailed again over New York in the ALDS, this time in four games. We won’t even count the one-game playoff between the Indians and Yankees for the American League East division title at the end of the movie Major League, which was released in 1989.
New York outlasted the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in the American League Wild Card Game, a game in which starter Luis Severino was pulled after just one out and three runs allowed in the first inning. The Yankees got 26 outs from the bullpen on Tuesday, and will likely not have Chad Green and David Robertson available on Thursday after the duo combined for 5⅓ innings and nine strikeouts against Minnesota.
“It’s hard for starters a lot of times to get through a lot of innings because there’s tough at-bats,” Girardi said on Tuesday night. “There’s a reason there’s tough at-bats, because you face good offenses because they’re good teams, and you do have to rely on your bullpen a lot.
“We have a wonderful mix down there with guys that we can do it with. And you know, I pushed some guys a little bit further than I would like tonight, but it’s win or go home, and that’s why I did it.”
Bullpens are a strength of both teams in this series, with Indians relievers ranking first in the majors with a 2.89 ERA and the Yankees third at 3.34. The New York bullpen ranks first with a 29.1% strikeout rate, while Cleveland is fourth at 27.5%.
ALDS Game 1 time, TV and streaming info
- Teams: Yankees (91-71) at Indians (102-60)
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- First pitch: 7:38 p.m.
- Location: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio
- TV: FS1
- Streaming: Fox Sports Go
- Announcers: Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz, Tom Verudcci
Indians vs. Yankees news & notes
Trevor Bauer, starting on the mound for Cleveland in Game 1, has matured in the last few years, wrote Scott Patsko of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
But something happened in Cleveland that didn’t happen anywhere else during Bauer’s baseball career. He stuck around. The 2016 season marked the first time Bauer was on the same team – and around many of the same teammates – for more than three seasons. Bauer knows now that it takes him a few years before he feels he can open up.
“Being around here for an extended period of time and a few years in a row around the same guys, and experiencing different cultures and different teams year-to-year,” he said, “now I’m much more aware of how experience matters, and communication.
“Being around the culture of the team enough, you notice when something’s off about the chemistry, and you find a way to fix that and address that and be conscious of that. Because before, that stuff didn’t hold much value to me.”
The Yankees parlayed two of their greatest strengths — their bullpen and their power — to win the Wild Card Game on Tuesday, wrote our Grant Brisbee:
The Yankees were the better team, and they won. Baseball did not have that many surprises in store. The Yankees’ plan this postseason is to hit dingers and go to the bullpen early and often, turning baseball into something of a Strat-O-Matic thought experiment by assembling a half-dozen dominant relievers and shortening every game. In this case, the Yankees shortened the game to a third of an inning, and it worked. My stars, it worked.