CLEVELAND – On an evening of debates, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees made an opening statement.
Shane Bieber had no rebuttal.
The judge beat a two-run homer on Bieber’s fourth pitch, Cole scored 13 in his NYC playoff debut and the Yankees opened their AL wild card streak with a resounding 12-3 win over the Cleveland Indians Tuesday.
A few miles from where President Donald Trump and campaign opponent Joe Biden presented their cases to the nation in their presidential debate, the Yankees played against Bieber, who was the best baseball pitcher during the condensed regular season but ineffective in his playoff debut.
The judge and the rest of the New York hitters hadn̵
“The first inning didn’t go as planned,” Bieber said. “I wish I had been with my stuff out of speed in the area, and challenged those guys a little bit more. I forced myself into some bad situations and some bad counts as well as not having my best things and making mistakes.
“No excuses. It wasn’t good.”
The best-of-three series continues Wednesday night with Carlos Carrasco looking to save Cleveland’s season against Masahiro Tanaka.
When Bieber’s last shot thundered from the empty bleachers of the left field in a two-run homer by Gleyber Torres in the fifth, the Yankees were 7-2 and had delivered a boisterous post-season message to the rest of baseball: Don’t forget. we.
“We scored quite a few runs,” said Brett Gardner, who hit a two-run homer in the seventh and rode in three. “I don’t think you would ever expect that against a pitcher of the caliber of Shane Bieber. I hope this is a sign of more good things to come.”
After giving up on Torres’ homer, Bieber handed the ball to interim Indian manager Sandy Alomar Jr. and slowly made his way to the Cleveland bench, seemingly taking all the city’s hopes with him for a long time. The Indians have lost seven consecutive playoff games.
Aiming for an early lead over Judge’s homer, Cole showed why the Yankees shelled out $ 324 million for him in the off-season. The right-hander gave up two runs – including Josh Naylor’s homer – and six non-walking shots in seven innings.
Naylor, who came in the deadline trade from San Diego, went 4 for 4 and became the first player with three extra-base hits in his post-season debut.
Cole’s strikeouts were the second highest number of a New York pitcher in post-season history. Roger Clemens opened 15 in game 4 of ALCS 2000. Cole also became the first pitcher to score at least 12 in three post-season games.
“We needed to set the tone for the series,” Cole said. “I’m obviously very grateful and honored to be able to take the ball and be in this position. To be able to deliver is really nice.”
Giancarlo Stanton added a solo shot in ninth place for the Yankees, who didn’t even have to warm up their best relievers – keeping Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino fresh for Game 2.
The judge’s first homer since rolling off the injury list on September 16 – and Bieber’s first permit at home this season – gave the Yankees a stunning 2-0 lead.
“We had a big, long hitter meeting where everyone stuck to the same plan and just trying to work counts, getting shots to drive and I think overall, we did,” the judge said. “This is when this team is dangerous, when we go out and we can only grind the bats.
“All the mistakes that are thrown up there, we hammer them.”
DJ LeMahieu, AL’s batting champion, led off with a single before Judge, who missed 29 games with a strained calf, blew Bieber’s first pitch, a mid-court fastball, over the wall in the center right.
It was just the shot in the arm the Yankees were looking for after going 11-18 away this season and dropping six out of eight in the stretch.
Unlike the previous four post-season matchups between Indians and Yankees since 1997, this one, played amid a pandemic that threatened to wipe out the entire season, was different in so many ways.
There was barely a buzz downtown, parts of which were cut off due to the debate taking place on the nearby Case Western Reserve campus. The Progressive Field was mostly empty and a cold front lowered the temperature during the game to 61 degrees, so it felt like falling.
There were some gnats, those pesky flying insects that swarmed New York rescuer Joba Chamberlain in the 2007 playoffs.
This time, however, it was the Yankees who caused all the chaos.
“Our season,” Gardner said, “started today.”
According to MLB, Cole became AL’s first pitcher with 13 strikeouts and no walk in a post-season start. … Naylor is the fifth player to go 4 for 4 or better on his playoff debut, joining A.J. Pierzynski (2002), Johnny Damon (2001), Mel Ott (1933) and Frankie Frisch (1921).
MLB eased COVID-19 restrictions and allowed players’ family members to watch the game.
Boone said nearly half of New York’s players had loved ones on the trip and believes their presence could have a positive effect.
Cole spent time with his 3-month-old son “in between naps. This was the first time we went to the baseball field together as a family.”
The Indians are going through the postseason without their leader.
Coach Terry Francona, who missed 46 regular season games due to poor health, watched the game from a suite. Indian president Chris Antonetti said Francona continues to recover, but the 61-year-old is “still way below 100%”.
Carrasco’s inspirational return after being diagnosed with leukemia last year reaches post-season. He will face Tanaka, who pitched seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland.
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