The Yankees couldn’t have made a louder postseason statement than they did Tuesday night when they stretched their lungs at Progressive Field.
Not only did they tear into Indians starter and likely AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber, they watched Gerrit Cole dominate the Indians, spit in the face of folks who were fixated on a poor regular-season road record and rediscovered their home run stroke.
Those ingredients led to a 12-3 victory in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series in Cleveland that continues Wednesday evening with Game 2 of the best-of-three deal.
Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Yankees and be opposed by Carlos Carrasco. Should the Yankees win they will advance to the ALDS. If they lose, a deciding Game 3 will be played Thursday night at Progressive Field.
Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer on Bieber’s fourth pitch of the game and Gleyber Torres ended Bieber’s night with a two-run home run in the fifth. Torres finished 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Brett Gardner went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to center in the seventh off Cam Hill and an RBI double against Bieber in the fourth. Giancarlo Stanton homered in the ninth off Hill.
Cole held up his end of the deal in what was supposed to be a battle between two of the best hurlers in the big leagues. In seven innings he gave up two runs, six hits and struck out 13.
“Everyone saying we only play good at Yankee Stadium is a bunch of BS,’’ Luke Voit said before the game. The Yankees were 22-9 at home during the regular season and 11-18 outside of The Bronx. “We are ready to go, doesn’t matter if we are visitors or home. We are going to go out there with a locked and loaded lineup.’’
Voit couldn’t have been more right, even though the Yankees didn’t homer in the final five games of the regular season.
In the fifth inning, Bieber jumped ahead of Torres 0-2 with fastballs for called strikes. Two breaking balls out of the strike zone were followed by a 93 mph fastball that Torres drove over the 19-foot wall in left for a two-run homer and a 7-2 Yankees lead.
Josh Naylor crushed an 0-1 88 mph pitch far over the right-field wall with the bases empty in the fourth that reduced the Yankees’ advantage to 5-2.
A two-out walk to Aaron Hicks in the third inning led to the Yankees handing Cole a 3-0 lead. Bieber fell behind Voit, 3-1, and watched the cleanup hitter drive a cut fastball into the left-center field gap that easily scored Hicks from first. Bieber kept the deficit to three runs by getting Stanton to swing through a breaking ball in the dirt and leave Voit at second.
In the first inning Bieber gave up a leadoff single on a 2-0 pitch to DJ LeMahieu and Judge hit the fourth pitch over the left-center field wall for a 2-0 Yankees lead.
Since returning from the injured list on Sept. 16, Judge played in 10 games (nine starts) and didn’t homer in 36 at-bats. In 28 games Judge hit nine home runs.
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