Did Yankees change Wild Card game strategy forever?


Tonight the Yankees will begin their ALDS series against the Cleveland Indians, but to get here, they had to find their way past the Minnesota Twins in the Wildcard Game. Who expected Aaron Judge to break the rookie home run record with 52 this year?

The Cleveland Indians, without a World Series championship since 1948, will see that drought end this year, according to USA TODAY Sports' six-person panel. "We've just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland".

This year's playoffs feature the Cleveland Indians (102 wins), Los Angeles Dodgers (104), Houston Astros (101), Washington Nationals (97), Boston Red Sox (93), New York Yankees (91) and Chicago Cubs (92). The Yankees could not complete a deal for Bruce, and the Indians did.

Sonny Gray will start Thursday, CC Sabathia gets the call for Game 2, and Tanaka is scheduled for Game 3. He has a 9-1 record with a 2.42 ERA in those 13 appearances. Indians ace and most likely Cy Young victor Corey Kluber will go against former Indians lefty CC Sabathia. While the days off in the series mean Kluber could still come back to start Game 5 on his regular four days of rest if needed, if the Indians lose the opener there will be a lot of second-guessing. But a pre-deadline deal between the Mets and Yankees fell apart, reportedly because the NY clubs couldn't agree on how much of Bruce's remaining salary each would pay.

Want to watch the game? But the Cleveland Indians, believe it or not, are the popular pick to go all the way this season, thanks to their historically good pitching staff.

"You guys did something nobody would ever think you guys could do, and we're very proud of you", said James.

After getting left fielder Brett Gardner to pop out to shortstop Francisco Lindor, Bauer struck out Judge looking and catcher Gary Sanchez swinging to set down the Yankees, 1-2-3, in the top of the first inning.

After originally announcing he was unclear who would start Game 1, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will send Sonny Gray to the mound rather than Masahiro Tanaka.

This still is the Indians' series to lose, and the Yankees can't expect a barrage of home runs from Judge and co. The right-hander had a no-hitter through 5.1 innings before Aaron Hicks doubled in the sixth.

So much for stealing Game 1. With the two teams, he went 10-12 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 starts during the regular season. This is kind of why you play the game. With one runner on, Judge blasted a high pitch deep and out of the park for a two-run shot. In the bottom of the fourth, he hit a two-run home run over the right-field fence to put Cleveland ahead 3-0. Bruce would double to lead off the second inning, eventually scoring the game's first run on a Roberto Perez double play.

"He's been one of the better pitchers in the league", Francona said.

Bruce is a hitter who can get hot quickly and stay that way for a while, so the Yankees' pitchers need to approach him the same way they would sluggers Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. Although LeBron is an Akron-native he grew up rooting for the Yankees, and has been vocal in his support of the Indians, especially since their success has risen over the last couple of seasons.